“I’m Bob Corker”

“If Bob Corker had any honor or decency,” Steve Bannon told Sean Hannity, “he should resign immediately.”

There’s a scene in the movie “Spartacus” (1960) in which the slaves who survived their failed uprising are held under heavy guard and a Roman officer announces, “Your lives are to be spared . . . on the single condition that you identify the body or the living person of the slave called Spartacus.” As Kirk Douglas (Spartacus) starts to stand, so too does Tony Curtis (Antoninus), and simultaneously they say, “I’m Spartacus.” Immediately, every slave in the valley is on his feet shouting, “I’m Spartacus.” It gives you goose bumps.

While there is much I disagree on with Senator Corker (R-Tenn), he seems an honorable and decent man who takes seriously both words in the phrase “public service.” But for the sin of criticizing the president, he is singled out for ridicule by Trump, as others pile on. The aim is to isolate him, scorn him, and cut him down. In this dangerous game, “I’m Bob Corker.”

“Spartacus” speaks to these times in other ways. The author, Howard Fast, had to self-publish his book because he was blacklisted and jailed for contempt of Congress for refusing to name contributors to a fund for Spanish-American war orphans. (One contributor was Eleanor Roosevelt.) Screenwriter Dalton Trumbo, one of the Hollywood Ten, was also blacklisted, imprisoned, and forced to write under pseudonyms. Because Douglas publicly identified Trumbo as the screenwriter (and Jack Kennedy subsequently crossed an American Legion picket line to watch the film), the blacklist was broken.

Character assassination and innuendo characterized the McCarthy era, whose chief henchman, Roy Cohn, subsequently became Donald Trump’s mentor. The aim was to frighten others into silence or submission.

This Sunday, when some NFL players kneel down, as some inevitably will, maybe what they’re saying is, “I’m Colin Kaepernick.”

James G. Blaine

About James G. Blaine

Most of us undervalue what seem our tiny contributions to our communities and the world. As a result, we feel powerless, even victimized. But, like the butterfly effect in science, the lives we lead with our families, in our communities, and at work – all the so-called little things we do – collectively change the world. As I grow older, my ambition grows more modest but not less important: to participate fully and to contribute what I can. That’s my goal with this blog.