The Danger of Infecting Politicians’ Minds

Donald Trump, with his characteristic panache, has called those Republican legislators who don’t totally agree with him “RINOS” an acronym that stands for Republicans in name only. I propose a different acronym, one that practically includes not only all Republicans but also some Democrats. I propose to call them “REPAM.” Let me explain.

An amoeba, also called ameba, is a type of cell or unicellular organism which has the ability to alter its shape. It does so by extending and retracting its pseudopods, a temporary arm-like projection that flows in the direction of movement. A REPAM is a Republican legislator infected with a particular kind of amoeba.

Several people infected with this amoeba suffer profound consequences. This is the case of those infected with the species Naegleria fowleri, the so-called “brain-eating amoeba,” that particularly (although not only) affects Republican legislators, causing them to suffer the loss of common sense. In the more serious cases, it leads to an alteration of the patient’s moral values and plain old-fashioned decency.

The behavior of shape-changing amoebas is reminiscent of the political opinions of most Republican legislators. Instead of changing shape, like the amoeba that infected them, they change their political positions according to their own convenience. As far as one knows, they do so without remorse.

Amoebas have a long history and, since they were discovered, were shown to affect several European politicians. The earliest amoeboid organism was found in 1755 by August Johann Rösel von Rosenhof. He named the organism he discovered “Der Kleine Proteus” (“The Little Proteus”,) similar in appearance to the most common species now known as Amoeba proteus.

Two recent historical occurrences clearly show the deleterious effects of amoebas on politicians’ minds: the events of January 6, 2022, and the Senate’s Supreme Court confirmation hearings of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson.

Although the events of January 6 were perhaps one of the most serious threats to democracy in our country in the last century, only a few Republican legislators -whose own lives were at stake during those events- have dared so far to condemn them unequivocally. Some, who initially condemned them, soon changed their minds and ran to the WHINO (White House in name only) in Florida to assure its proprietor of their undying admiration and support.

The confirmation hearings of Judge Brown Jackson -perhaps one of the most qualified candidates for the Supreme Court in recent times- showed again the deleterious effects of amoeba infection on Republican legislators’ (REPAM) minds.

The unfair and uncivil attacks against Judge Brown Jackson should have never been conducted not only against her, but against any other person. Predictably, the REPAM leader had to add his own opinion from his Floridian spa. “Judge Jackson was unbelievably disrespectful to Republican Senators that in many cases were really nicely asking questions,” Donald Trump said. “She had total disdain and even hatred for them.”

How can one name powerful white men ganging up on a Black woman, whose moral stature they will never be able to reach?

Because of her qualifications Judge Brown Jackson will probably be confirmed. If her hearings had any effect, though, it was to show -once again- the moral ineptitude of those who attacked her. Decency has meaning, even in these troubling times.

Dr. Cesar Chelala is a co-winner of the 1979 Overseas Press Club of America award for the article “Missing or Disappeared in Argentina: The Desperate Search for Thousands of Abducted Victims.”