Congressional Black Caucus

Rep. Hank Johnson: It's Not Just About Bibi Dissing Our Black President

When the 1% were plotting to overthrow the Roman republic, the great democratic orator Cicero gave a series of speeches in the Roman Senate, exposing the conspiracy. These speeches came to be known as the "Catilinarians" or the "Catiline Orations," after the principal target of the speeches, Lucius Sergius Catilina. For two thousand years, these speeches have been pored over by students of Latin and rhetoric as a canonical example of Roman oratory.


One of Cicero's rhetorical techniques that made a big impression on my high school Latin class was "praeteritio," "I will pass over." The orator mentions "in passing" some really damning thing done by the accused. "Quod ego praetermitto," "which [crime] I will pass over." By such "passing over" of the crime, the speaker calls attention to the crime.

I had the opportunity to interact at some length with Georgia Rep. Hank Johnson not so long ago. I'm going to hazard a guess that at some point in his life, Rep. Hank Johnson had the opportunity to study Cicero.