Back in the day, when those old Hebrews were doing battle with the Edomites & the Jebusites & the parasites, they kept track of their sins in a daily register. Every year on the 10th day of the 7th month, the high priest would select two goats to sacrifice for the corporate sins of God´s people, Israel. One of these, ¨the Lord´s Goat,¨ was immediately killed on the altar, and the other, the scapegoat, driven into the wild desert.
The chief priest then carried some of the sacrificed animal´s blood into the room where only he could go, the Holy of Holies, and only on this one day of the year -- Yom Kippur, the day of atonment. Going behind the veil, he sprinkled blood on the Mercy Seat, the lid of the Ark of the Covenant. Then he would confess to Jahweh the sins of the nation, figuratively transferring them to the scapegoat who carried them off into the desert, where they were never heard from any more.
Today, A scapegoat is someone designated to carry our shit for us. Rather than personally answer to God or humans for our greed, envy, pride, or anger, we load it all onto the head of a. specially-chosen human.
Such is the case of Sgt Berghdahl, who now carries our collective frustrations and sins not just from the past year, but the last dozen or so.The frustrations of stalemate in Iraq & Afghanistan, the bewildering array of ideological freaks parading across the public's TV screens, & the continuing & accelerating erosion of our "way of life," so-called, escalate social tensions & pressures to the point where people begin to actively search for the goat.
And suddenly there he is, the reverse messiah, the great unleader, and one upon whom we can load all our resentment, fears, and saliva. And this one comes with a dad who "looks like a Muslim" -- a big bonus which helps spread the hatred a bit. It seems people instictively recognize the goat when he appears, and everyone piles on for an opportunity to churn the stick around in the barrel.
There's not a more animalistic & primitive behavior than modern-day scapegoating.