Recently, I saw a Michelle Malkin column that reminded me of something that's irritated me for years. I don't normally read Malkin because she's so unpleasant, but I've been interested in watching how the right-wing approaches the bailout, so I skimmed her column. She retold the story of the right-wing ant and the liberal grasshopper: how the ant worked hard to save up his resources, but the liberal grasshopper was lazy and then tried to organize all the other lazy grasshoppers to steal what the ant had saved. OK -- fine story that riffs on one of Aesop's Fables. But I think it would actually be better to remember that we're all the same thing: we're all ants. Some ants don't have to work hard in order to have plenty. Others, no matter how hard they work, still end up with nothing. Many ants who work equivalently hard, end up with vastly different outcomes, depending where they live, what their circumstances are, or just through dumb luck. Vilifying and dehumanizing classes of people you don't like, isn't helpful.
I remember having the same reaction when I read Maus for the first time. Representing different nations as different kinds of animals obscures the reality that we really are all the same. The Nazis didn't want to admit the Jews are human and it is uncomfortable for many of us to claim the Nazis as human -- but we are all human and to deny the humanity of others is the first step down the slippery slope.
Wow. After I checked the wikipedia entry for Maus, I looked up The Ant and the Grasshopper to confirm my recollection that it was one of Aesop's fables and saw that someone had already updated the entry with a reference to Malkin's column. Wikipedia is amazing.