William Henry recently made an observation on his blog, that made me chuckle. He thinks Barack Obama looks a lot like the Akhenaten (Akhenaton, Amemhotep IV). I could see that.
When John McCain pointed to Obama and said “That One” during the debate – sending a karate chop at his opponent who had voted for an energy bill - I had to put my guitar down.
I picked up my cat Boo and said, “Tell me he didn’t just call Barackhenaton ‘That One’ (or ‘Th-At-one’ or ‘Th-Atone’), because ‘The Aton’ or ‘The Atone’ is the name of the God worshipped by Ackhenaton.”
McCain supporters deny he meant anything in particular by the stinging remark. Obama supporters claim a racist tone in the dehumanizing term. Apparently, to McCain, Obama is not a person, he’s a thing.
I think McCain was psychically picking up on the whole Barackhenaton vibe. “That One”, “Th-At-One” or “Th-Atone”.
I had a very similar thought when I heard McCain's "that one," slur. Particularly, when it started to gain traction as a meme. Not for the first time, I was compelled to reflect upon some of the deeper symbolism of Obama and his campaign. All celebrities and politicians take on symbolic significance that is larger than their personal identities. They represent many things to many people, and there are archetypal patterns that emerge as they become increasingly prominent. Obama symbolizes unity (one-ness), even more than he does "change." His language is inclusive, eschewing partisan rancor.
RACHEL MADDOW, HOST: Senator, you criticize the Bush administration frequently. But, you almost never criticize the Republican Party itself. Other Democrats --
SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Much to your chagrin.
MADDOW: Well, yes, actually. I mean, other Democrats, you will hear them talk about the GOP as the party that's been wrong on all the big stuff. Creating Social Security, civil rights, the War in Iraq. But, you don't really do that. Do you think there is a stark difference between the parties?
OBAMA: Well, I do think there's a difference between the parties, but here's my belief. That I'm talking to voters. And I think they're a lot of Republican voters out there, self-identified, who actually think that what the Bush administration has done, has been damaging to the country.
And, what I'm interested in, is how do we build a working majority for change? And if I start off with the premise that it's only self-identified Democrats who I'm speaking to, then I'm not going to get to where we need to go. If I can describe it as not a blanket indictment of the Republican Party, but instead describe it as the Republican Party having been kidnapped by a incompetent, highly ideological subset of the Republican Party, then that means I can still reach out to a whole bunch of Republican moderates who I think are hungry for change, as well.
He represents a union of races, bringing together not only black and white racial identities, which have been so divisive in our nation's history, but many other cultural elements. Because he has Muslim family members and an unfortunate middle name, he is misidentified as Muslim, unintentionally or otherwise. Although he, himself, is not Muslim, he brings that heritage into the mix, which has forced a dialog on the issue of Muslims in American culture and politics. While it has been used as a wedge issue, there is a great opportunity, here, for national and international healing.
I was struck, early in Obama's campaign, at the use of the letter O as a symbol in his advertising and logo. It very directly invokes invokes the sphere.
This is why I find the Akhenaten comparison so germane. It's certainly not because he was a unifier. He was known throughout history as the "heretic king" for his battle with the priests of other gods, particularly the cult of Amun. For his radical revision of Egyptian religion, much of his legacy was defaced shortly after his mysterious death. But, his greater purpose, and arguably effect, was to introduce the concept of unity consciousness. By instituting a law of one, and enforcing a worship of only one god, he brought forth that mystical construct symbolically. Like Obama, he employed the image of the sphere. His god the Aten, the noon-day sun, had no face; no anthropomorphic identity. He made worship of the solar disc, the law of the land.
The underlying point of mythical references to "the one" -- whether it be Jesus Christ, Neo, Obama, a life partner, or any other "savior" we seek -- is that the term does not really refer to a person. It is numerical code, which pervades our mythology and is hardwired into our consciousness. It represents what is, in fact, the "Christ consciousness," and that is one-ness. Our quest is to remember that there is no "other." There is only all that is. This deep mystical underpinning is played out in our democratic process and referenced in our national motto: "E pluribus unum." (Out of many, one.)