by Alessandro Marinelli
Trump is no saint, but he doesn't want to reshape the whole society to his own image.
#NeverTrumps – that is, right-wing politicians, pundits, and journalists with a deep-seated, almost metabolic aversion to the president, no matter how appreciable his accomplishments are – represent a phenomenon that doesn't cease to puzzle me. In a country that has been experiencing a decline in every meaningful indicator of societal and cultural health – drug addiction, birth rate, family stability, literacy and education, etc. – and that Trump is indefatigably trying to put back on track, you'd think nobody would lash out at him only over, say, a disagreement on free trade policies or because of his offhand way of talking and behaving, so different from other presidents. In the grand scheme of things, these differences are of small account, right?
Well, no. We are nearly two years into Trump's presidency, but a perverse contingent of elitists with perpetually raised index fingers just cannot cope with him being the president and acting as such. This uneasiness of spirit has sometimes bordered on the psychotic – in the aftermath of Charlottesville, for example, when Trump was not allowed to reject the narrative that the country is besieged by the Alt-Right – and has recently reached worryingly elevated peaks. Maybe the last example in chronological order is Rod Dreher's piece on The American Conservative about the "menace to the rule of law" Trump represents. Dreher, a famous and esteemed Christian apologist whose book The Benedict Option is known to many Christians in North America, quotes a piece at The Atlantic by Peter Beinart:
Fox's decision to focus on the Iowa murder rather than Cohen's guilty plea illustrates Stanley's point. In the eyes of many Fox viewers, I suspect, the network isn't ignoring corruption so much as highlighting the kind that really matters. When Trump instructed Cohen to pay off women with whom he'd had affairs, he may have been violating the law. But he was upholding traditional gender and class hierarchies. Since time immemorial, powerful men have been cheating on their wives and using their power to evade the consequences.The Iowa murder, by contrast, signifies the inversion – the corruption – of that "traditional order." Throughout American history, few notions have been as sacrosanct as the belief that white women must be protected from non-white men. By allegedly murdering Tibbetts, Rivera did not merely violate the law. He did something more subversive: He violated America's traditional racial and sexual norms.Once you grasp that for Trump and many of his supporters, corruption means less the violation of law than the violation of established hierarchies, their behavior makes more sense. Since 2014, Trump has employed the phrase rule of law nine times in tweets. Seven of them refer to illegal immigration.
I'm not sure that I buy that, but I can't dismiss it outright. I can't find a better explanation for why so many on the Right roll over and accept anything Trump says or does, no matter what principle he violates.
So he can't "dismiss outright" the claim that Fox News's choice to cover the tragedy in Iowa was due to an inversion – intolerable to many viewers – of that traditional order that envisions "the belief that white women must be protected from non-white men." It was not because an innocent American girl was brutally killed by a despicable individual who should never have been allowed to cross the border. It was because those savage tribes of troglodytes addicted to Fox News wanted to be updated on the intruder who had the gall to put his hands on one of their young female specimens, thereby violating their first rights to territory and breeding. This is how the most snobbish and sanctimonious media elite on the planet regards millions of fellow citizens.
Even a fake sorrow for a young life snuffed out in so preventable a way – countries are supposed to have borders for a damn good reason – is too much to ask of the sophisticates who sit on the American coastal and urban media thrones. Their urge to paper over the uncomfortable, narrative-disrupting reality with reassuring, self-esteem-boosting prejudices is just too strong.
But no matter how repugnant and astoundingly inhuman the meta-message conveyed in Beinart's piece is, the reaction of someone as steeped in Catholic teachings as Dreher is more than disappointing: sorry, folks, can't rule out the deplorables foaming at the mouth over the infraction of nature-ordained hierarchies. As if Trump weren't all that stands between Christians like Dreher, who write ad nauseam about their projects to re-Christianize America, and a totalitarian left that will stop at nothing to root religion out of the American soil.
And what to infer from his shallow dismissal of Trump supporters as clueless chumps "rolling over and accepting anything he says or does, no matter what principle he violates"? I am no deep connoisseur of the human spirit, but a person whose only claim to fame is the profoundness of his Christian perspective and the forward-thinking approach of his apostolate should be deeper than that.
Nobody, or at most very few, roll over Trump. Most do not accept "anything he says" at all, because they know that words are wind. And they do not accept "anything he does," but judge every specific initiative and decision on their merits. Above all, they do not rend their garments every time Trump acts unpresidentially if he's right on the substance – for example, when he calls the NFL players out for what they indisputably are: buffoonish, hypocritical millionaires. The examples in this regard are countless.
Again, from Dreher's piece:
It is possible to believe that the current political and culture order has been corrupted in some fundamental way, and to believe at the same time that Donald Trump is no enemy of that corruption, but in fact is a product of it. I think that is manifestly obvious. The same corruption infests the Left.
No, it's not "the same corruption." Trump is no saint, but he doesn't want to reshape the whole society to his own image, dictating how we must live our lives all the way down to which bathroom people must be allowed to use, and woe to those who raise any objection. Moreover, he's not been elected to ascend to the heights of purity and virtue so that his light could reverberate down (that was Obama). There are plenty of that kind of model in the empyrean of the American presidents of the past, but nobody in particular seems to care.
No, he was elected to endeavor a desperate veer off the course the country inevitably seemed – seems? – to be on: toward decline and collapse. The American right should at least agree on giving him props for trying his best so far. It is discouraging to still need to point this out.
The mix-up of a deranged left, now openly and unashamedly indifferent to the tragedy of Americans dying on its watch if it doesn't fit its narrative, and the enfeebled inertness of part of the right – Dreher couldn't bring himself to go beyond a vague "I cannot personally rule out voting for Trump in 2020" – could turn out to be lethal for the country.
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