It’s Friday, and it’s been three weeks since the last time I made bread, which means it’s challah time (challah-day?) again. So I spent a chunk of this morning in my kitchen, happily mixing up my usual batch of challah dough, listening to Stephanie Miller and the mooks on the radio talking about the food-stamp vote in the House of Reps. Ironic, to be hearing that subject discussed while throwing together not just one loaf of challah, but three. To have the abundance to be able to do that—no problem for us, affording sufficient yeast, flour, honey, eggs, olive oil for three Shabbat dinners’ worth of challah—while 217 Congresscritters who each earn three or four times (at least!) as much as working Americans’ median wage solemnly cast votes to ensure that those with little to eat will get even less. In many cases, nothing at all.
They like to quote Bible verses when they engage in their cruelty, these Congresscritters. GOP Congresscritters, to be precise. Only the modern nutbag version of what used to be the “party of Lincoln” indulges in this sort of pious nastiness these days. “‘Those who will not work, neither shall they eat,’” intones one particularly hypocritical gentleman, Rep. Stephen Fincher of Tennessee, who personally took the US taxpayer for $3.48 million in crop subsidies that he surely doesn’t need between 1999 and 2012. Seventy thousand dollars in 2012 alone (http://onforb.es/10mlKE8). Take a moment to imagine that. I guess he figures he works, therefore he gets to eat. Though I’m not sure you can call what Rep. Fincher and those like him do in Congress “work.” Especially when they all keep taking vacations.
The Bible verse I wish they’d quote is Matthew 25, 34-45. It’s a long passage, but the heart of it is this: “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for the least of these my brothers and sisters, you did unto me.” And its counterpart, for those who deliberately turn away from the needs of others: “Truly I say to you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do unto me.” This is a fairly basic lesson in how to treat one’s fellow human beings, yet the right-wingers have an amazing amount of trouble with it. Do they not see poor people as human? Do they truly believe that low-income Americans who need SNAP to get by are mostly lazy slackers who’d rather exist on $4.50 a day grudgingly provided by the (somewhat) better off than get a job that pays a little better? They’re so proud of the “work requirements” in their spiffy new SNAP-cuts bill. Are they not aware that most of those receiving SNAP benefits are the working poor, the elderly, those too disabled to work, and children? Those last three aren’t groups we usually expect to sing for their supper. Then again, with these Congress-grifters, all expectations are off. They happily swill from the public trough, sucking up money they don’t need, while inveighing against others in far greater need than they.
I look around my kitchen, and I have so much. So much that I could easily take for granted. A jar of preserved lemons slowly pickling in a corner. My three-loaf batch of fresh bread dough. Banana-chocolate chip muffins I threw together this morning just to use up the dead bananas in my fridge. Four different kinds of breakfast cereal. We’re getting low on fruit, but I can go out later and buy whatever looks good: apples, grapes, pears, maybe a pint of blueberries. Fresh fruit, even organic if I feel like splurging. I don’t have to think twice about it. And our family isn’t among the one percent, not by a long shot. But I don’t have a Wal-mart job, nor does my husband. We’re lucky that way. Too many others in this country aren’t, and now a benighted chunk of Congress has just done its best to make their lives even harder. All in the name of God and righteousness, of course.
“Whatsoever you do to the least of my brethren, this you do unto me.” Got news for you, GOP-ers who voted for this travesty: You just did harm to God, in the persons of His/Her creations. I think (S)He’s going to be a wee mite pissed off.