I wake up happy every day in Trump’s America because I’m convinced that I’m watching a wonderful documentary in which America and Americans are thriving.
Why was support for Trump so high among Evangelicals? Do they not care about [name the scandal the media was hyping]?
Maybe, but they care about other things a lot more.
…Family Research Council President Tony Perkins told Politico, “We kind of gave him — ‘All right, you get a mulligan. You get a do-over here.’ ” Franklin Graham, son of the Rev. Billy Graham, told CNN that Trump is a “changed person.” He rationalized, “These alleged affairs, they’re alleged with Trump, didn’t happen while he was in office.”
There are two ways to view this: Either evangelicals like Perkins are rank hypocrites or, in the spirit of their faith, are simply very, very forgiving.
Many lean toward the former interpretation, and I get the temptation.
But it willfully leaves out a lot of recent history. As the left and liberal media try to “figure out” Christian America during this latest, complicated moment, it’s instructive to understand where they’ve recently been.
Two years into Barack Obama’s first term, I wrote a book on the liberal war on Christianity. When “Losing Our Religion” came out, folks on the right got it immediately. “Of course the left is attacking Christians,” was the general refrain.
Many on the left, however, were incredulous. One far-left radio host had me on to tell me he had no plans to read the book, but that my premise was absurd on its face. Christianity’s the biggest religion in the country; it can’t possibly be an oppressed class, they insisted.
OK, ask one — just one — evangelical Christian why they voted for Trump.
Perkins spelled it out. Evangelical Christians, he says, “were tired of being kicked around by Barack Obama and his leftists. And I think they are finally glad that there’s somebody on the playground that is willing to punch the bully.”
It wasn’t just Obama’s condescension toward the faithful, who he famously said “cling to guns and religion” when angry or scared. It was eight years of policies that trampled on their religious values, from expanded abortion rights and decreased regulation, even in the face of horrific cases like Dr. Kermit Gosnell’s, to continued efforts to chip away at religious employers’ rights.
It was a smugness from the liberal media, which talked about Christian America as if it were a vestigial organ of some extinct, diseased dinosaur.
Liberal television hosts mocked Sarah Palin for banal things like praying, and reporters wrote that her faith — Pentecostalism — was fanatical, kooky and bigoted. Liberal networks and newsrooms were windowless cocoons of secularism that only deigned to cover Christianity to dismiss its relevance or spotlight its perceived backwardness.
And it was decades of concerted cultural elitism that marginalized Christians as not cool enough to cater to. Movies like “The Passion of the Christ” and “The Chronicles of Narnia” were blockbuster hits in spite of dismissive Hollywood film critics who refused to believe there were enough Christians to go see them. Celebrities called them fanatics; comedians made fun of them.
Many evangelicals I talk to say they grew tired of turning the other cheek. In Trump, they finally found someone who was willing to voice the anger and resentment they had been holding in.
They could overlook his personal foibles — after all, let he who is without sin cast the first stone — and his evangelical illiteracy, in exchange for getting someone who would tell off all their past tormentors.
It’s worth noting, there’s also Trump’s record. From tapping Neil Gorsuch for the Supreme Court to acknowledging Jerusalem is the capital of Israel to following through on his pro-life rhetoric, the President has delivered on a number of promises he made to evangelicals. But that’s not why they voted for him.
So while the willingness to forgive and even defend Trump’s alleged sins seems anathema to many, the fact is evangelicals, like many Trump voters, had good reason to pull the lever for him — and now to stand by him.
The elite media seems to have a case of raging oikophobia.
I’m seeing posts on Facebook declaring that at least some of Trump’s judicial picks lack requisite experience.
Consider the ABA’s “not qualified” rating of Leonard Steven Grasz, a Nebraska attorney nominated to the appeals court. The ABA claims Grasz is unfit because of his “deeply held social agenda.” During his 11 years as Nebraska’s chief deputy attorney general, he defended many of the state’s laws, including a ban on partial-birth abortion. Defending that law was his job.
Opposing any limit on abortion is enough to outrage pro-choice activist Cynthia Nance, the law professor who led Grasz’s recent ABA review. She stooped to grilling him on why he sends his children to religious schools — an out-of-bounds question — instead of sticking to probing his legal philosophy. Apparently, being religious is disqualifying.
Grasz reiterated his “solemn obligation” to put aside personal views and “faithfully apply” Supreme Court precedent. Astonishingly, that’s an assurance the left rejects. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), argues “there’s simply no way to prevent a judge’s … personal beliefs from influencing” rulings. The conclusion is obvious. To Democrats like Whitehouse, only nominees with left-wing agendas are acceptable.
CARTOONS | JERRY HOLBERT
Another nominee rated “unqualified” by the ABA is Brett Talley, Trump’s nominee for a federal district court in Alabama. Last Thursday, Talley won Senate Judiciary Committee approval despite the ABA’s claim that Talley lacks “requisite trial experience.”
In truth, Talley is superbly qualified — with a law degree from Harvard, clerkships at the trial and appeals court level, litigation experience in the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals and a stint as Alabama’s deputy solicitor general. He’s got about as much trial experience as Justice Elena Kagan, rated “well qualified” by the ABA when President Obama nominated her to the highest court.
What’s Talley’s real problem? His political views and Trump connections. (His wife is chief of staff to the White House counsel, a fact he should have disclosed sooner.) Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) grilled Talley about abortion, gun control, gay marriage and his disdain for Hillary Clinton — whom he once dubbed “Hillary Rotten Clinton” on Twitter.
Imprudent maybe, but hardly in the league with Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s comment to The New York Times that she couldn’t “imagine what the country would be — with Donald Trump as our president.”
Talley assured senators he would “never allow personal opinions or experiences to justify a departure from the law.” When Whitehouse said courts need judges who empathize with what it’s like to be a teenage mom, African-American, gay or poor, Talley shot back that everyone appearing in front of a federal judge deserves empathy.
Back in 2013, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) chastised Senate Republicans for opposing Obama’s female nominees, arguing the court needs more women. But hypocrisy is on display now, with Warren and fellow Democrats attacking Trump’s female nominees.
Amy Barrett, nominated to the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, got hammered for her Catholicism. Feinstein suggested Barrett’s religion “lives loudly within” her, making her unfit. The University of Notre Dame’s president warned that “it is chilling to hear from a United States Senator that this might now disqualify someone from service as a federal judge.”
Millions voted for Trump because he pledged to appoint judges who would uphold the Constitution, not invent law to advance a social agenda. Twenty-one percent of Trump voters called it their highest priority. But the ABA and other activists aren’t surrendering their grip on the courts without a fight. Remember that when you hear the smears about “unfit” nominees.
An editorial linked from Tax Prof Blog:
Too few Americans are qualified for the jobs available. Male working-age labor-force participation is at Depression-era lows. Opioid abuse is widespread. Homicidal violence plagues inner cities. Almost half of all children are born out of wedlock, and even more raised are by single mothers. Many college students lack basic skills, and high school students rank below those from two dozen other countries.
The causes of these phenomena are multiple and complex, but implicated in these and other maladies is the breakdown of the country’s bourgeois culture.
That culture laid out the script we all were supposed to follow: Get married before you have children and strive to stay married for their sake. Get the education you need for gainful employment, work hard, and avoid idleness. Go the extra mile for your employer or client. Be a patriot, ready to serve the country. Be neighborly, civic-minded, and charitable. Avoid coarse language in public. Be respectful of authority. Eschew substance abuse and crime. …
Would the re-embrace of bourgeois norms by the ordinary Americans who have abandoned them significantly reduce society’s pathologies? There is every reason to believe so. Among those who currently follow the old precepts, regardless of their level of education or affluence, the homicide rate is tiny, opioid addiction is rare, and poverty rates are low. Those who live by the simple rules that most people used to accept may not end up rich or hold elite jobs, but their lives will go far better than they do now. All schools and neighborhoods would be much safer and more pleasant. More students from all walks of life would be educated for constructive employment and democratic participation.
But restoring the hegemony of the bourgeois culture will require the arbiters of culture — the academics, media, and Hollywood — to relinquish multicultural grievance polemics and the preening pretense of defending the downtrodden. Instead of bashing the bourgeois culture, they should return to the 1950s posture of celebrating it.
These basic cultural precepts reigned from the late 1940s to the mid-1960s. They could be followed by people of all backgrounds and abilities, especially when backed up by almost universal endorsement. Adherence was a major contributor to the productivity, educational gains, and social coherence of that period.
Shelby Steele writes in the Wall Street Journal that the well of white guilt is running dry.
America, since the ’60s, has lived through what might be called an age of white guilt. We may still be in this age, but the Trump election suggests an exhaustion with the idea of white guilt, and with the drama of culpability, innocence and correctness in which it mires us.
White guilt is not actual guilt. Surely most whites are not assailed in the night by feelings of responsibility for America’s historical mistreatment of minorities. Moreover, all the actual guilt in the world would never be enough to support the hegemonic power that the mere pretense of guilt has exercised in American life for the last half-century.
White guilt is not angst over injustices suffered by others; it is the terror of being stigmatized with America’s old bigotries—racism, sexism, homophobia and xenophobia. To be stigmatized as a fellow traveler with any of these bigotries is to be utterly stripped of moral authority and made into a pariah. The terror of this, of having “no name in the street” as the Bible puts it, pressures whites to act guiltily even when they feel no actual guilt. White guilt is a mock guilt, a pretense of real guilt, a shallow etiquette of empathy, pity and regret.
It is also the heart and soul of contemporary liberalism. This liberalism is the politics given to us by white guilt, and it shares white guilt’s central corruption. It is not real liberalism, in the classic sense. It is a mock liberalism. Freedom is not its raison d’être; moral authority is.
When America became stigmatized in the ’60s as racist, sexist and militaristic, it wanted moral authority above all else. Subsequently the American left reconstituted itself as the keeper of America’s moral legitimacy. (Conservatism, focused on freedom and wealth, had little moral clout.) From that followed today’s markers of white guilt—political correctness, identity politics, environmental orthodoxy, the diversity cult and so on.
This was the circumstance in which innocence of America’s bigotries and dissociation from the American past became a currency of hardcore political power. Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, good liberals both, pursued power by offering their candidacies as opportunities for Americans to document their innocence of the nation’s past. “I had to vote for Obama,” a rock-ribbed Republican said to me. “I couldn’t tell my grandson that I didn’t vote for the first black president.”
For this man liberalism was a moral vaccine that immunized him against stigmatization. For Mr. Obama it was raw political power in the real world, enough to lift him—unknown and untested—into the presidency. But for Mrs. Clinton, liberalism was not enough. The white guilt that lifted Mr. Obama did not carry her into office—even though her opponent was soundly stigmatized as an iconic racist and sexist.
Perhaps the Obama presidency was the culmination of the age of white guilt, so that this guiltiness has entered its denouement. There are so many public moments now in which liberalism’s old weapon of stigmatization shoots blanks— Elizabeth Warren in the Senate reading a 30-year-old letter by Coretta Scott King, hoping to stop Jeff Sessions’s appointment as attorney general. There it was with deadly predictability: a white liberal stealing moral authority from a black heroine in order to stigmatize a white male as racist. When Ms. Warren was finally told to sit, there was real mortification behind her glaring eyes.
This liberalism evolved within a society shamed by its past. But that shame has weakened now. Our new conservative president rolls his eyes when he is called a racist, and we all—liberal and conservative alike—know that he isn’t one. The jig is up. Bigotry exists, but it is far down on the list of problems that minorities now face. I grew up black in segregated America, where it was hard to find an open door. It’s harder now for young blacks to find a closed one.
This is the reality that made Ms. Warren’s attack on Mr. Sessions so tiresome. And it is what caused so many Democrats at President Trump’s address to Congress to look a little mortified, defiantly proud but dark with doubt. The sight of them was a profound moment in American political history.
Today’s liberalism is an anachronism. It has no understanding, really, of what poverty is and how it has to be overcome. It has no grip whatever on what American exceptionalism is and what it means at home and especially abroad. Instead it remains defined by an America of 1965—an America newly opening itself to its sins, an America of genuine goodwill, yet lacking in self-knowledge.
This liberalism came into being not as an ideology but as an identity. It offered Americans moral esteem against the specter of American shame. This made for a liberalism devoted to the idea of American shamefulness. Without an ugly America to loathe, there is no automatic esteem to receive. Thus liberalism’s unrelenting current of anti-Americanism.
Let’s stipulate that, given our history, this liberalism is understandable. But American liberalism never acknowledged that it was about white esteem rather than minority accomplishment. Four thousand shootings in Chicago last year, and the mayor announces that his will be a sanctuary city. This is moral esteem over reality; the self-congratulation of idealism. Liberalism is exhausted because it has become a corruption.
I suspect the “Alt Right” is more of a fuzzy set. Some people, groups, and ideas definitely belong inside the set, others definitely belong outside, and some are located somewhere along a very fuzzy line.
To make matters worse, there are any number of folks with a vested interest in placing third parties either in or out of the “Alt Right”. For example, Democrats seem to want to expand “Alt Right” to encompass anyone who didn’t vote for Hillary Clinton for President.
Students affiliated with the Black Lives Matter movement crashed an event at the College of William & Mary, rushed the stage, and prevented the invited guest—the American Civil Liberties Union’s Claire Gastañaga, a W & M alum—from speaking.
Ironically, Gastañaga had intended to speak on the subject, “Students and the First Amendment.”
And I’m all out of popcorn…
But if we step back and look squarely at it, the one group in America that most demands and expects privileged treatment is the far left. And it is time the rest of us called them on it.
Here is a brief checklist to aid in recognizing the signs of liberal privilege:
1. Assuming that you have the right to control what everyone else does, what they have, what they say, and how they think. The idea of living your own life and – here’s a thought – leaving others the hell alone to do the same never crosses your mind.
2. Assuming that you have the right never to hear any opinion that contradicts your own, and using intimidation and violence if necessary to protect your ideological bubble. And if someone actually does or says something you don’t like, you are entitled to a hug or a puppy.
3. Assuming that feeling offended on your part constitutes a political crisis on the nation’s part. Others might have to grow up and accept the fact that the world will not bow to their every whim, but not you.
4. Having exquisite sensitivity to the moral speck in society’s eye while ignoring the beam in your own. It is your privilege to establish the standards by which others must live and to critique them at will, but any criticism of you is evidence of hatred.
5. Consistency is for other people. You are free to deny the existence of absolutes while imposing absolute standards that others must follow. As long as your heroes condemn fossil fuels and support gun control, they are free to fly in private jets and live in mega-mansions protected by armed guards. You are free to say the vilest things about conservative blacks or women, but any criticism of liberal blacks or women is evidence of racism or sexism.
6. You must be judged only by your rhetoric and not by your results. If your social policy weakens black families, the resulting social ills are the result of racism on society’s part and not any arrogance, presumption, or failing on your part. As long as you claim to value education, you are free to support an educational system that cranks out students who cannot read or do basic math, and who are ignorant of even the most essential points of American and world history.
7. And finally, liberal privilege means never having to say “not guilty.” Laws that apply to everyone else do not apply to you. Laws protecting public and private property may be suspended in order to allow leftists room to ventilate their feelings. Laws protecting classified information or forbidding the abuse of governmental positions to harass opponents do not apply to you or your allies.
The left constantly introduces new words and phrases into our political discourse. Perhaps the phrase that has been missing is, “Your liberal privilege is showing.”
This would be a good time to introduce it.