We Had to Burn the Village Down in Order to Save It

This sentiment, whether the exact words or not, was reportedly conveyed to journalist Peter Arnett by an Army officer after the now infamous bombing of a city during the Vietnam War.  They decided to bomb, “…the town regardless of civilian casualties, to rout the Vietcong.”  Perhaps many readers are too young to remember, but the quote has for many years now stood as a reminder of this sentiment: the road to hell is paved with good intentions.

This sentiment, that there are higher order goals or values in play, such that to get there, we have to allow the destruction of what we deem lessor values or goals, is certainly a factor when we hear evangelicals talk about either voting for Trump or supporting his recent pick to replace retiring SCOTUS justice Kennedy.

Ed Stetzer, who I have noted before I like and respect, in my opinion, makes just such a case.  And I’ve heard this same sentiment from evangelicals who, reluctantly they tell us, voted for Trump.  They knew voting for him was going to harm some things.  You know, things like their political credibility, their relationship with women, people of color, and immigrants, but it would be worth it for the judicial picks.

As I write this I have seen story after story of mostly white males confronting people of color in racist, hateful words and actions, bearing a boldness not seen since the 1960s.  Children are picking up on it too.  We all know where that boldness is coming from.  It’s coming from the current White House.  This man has unleashed, not the better, but the very worst angels of our nature.  But, we are told, we had to burn down the village in order to save it.

As I write this, the current occupant of the White House continues to tear down decades of progress, support, and friendship with our Western allies.  While he complements and shows deference to dictators and thugs, he insults and demeans democratically elected leaders, from historic alliances, who share much more with us value wise than the authoritarians he seems to envy.  But, we are told, we had to burn down the village in order to save it.

As I write this, the current occupant of the White House is under investigation for possibly committing, whether through acts of commission or omission, many different types of crimes.  Whether bank fraud, laundering money, fraud through his foundation, obstruction, or treason, no President in recent memory has been linked to so many forms of corruption or possible crimes.  But, we are told, we had to burn down the village in order to save it.

As I write this, the current occupant of the White House, demonstrated his sexist character, again, by belittling the “MeToo” movement at one of his most recent rallies.  This from a man who has been accused by over a dozen women of sexual harassment and is known for his insulting comments and behavior toward women in general.  Yes, the same guy who pays off porn stars, has been married three times, and has bragged about his adultery.  But, we are told, we had to burn down the village in order to save it.

The above just scratches the surface.  One could go on and on (for instance the separation of families and caging of children).

If the new SCOTUS pick is confirmed and is the tie breaking vote that over-turns Roe v. Wade and ends gay marriage, as they gaze across the burning landscape, I’m sure many evangelicals will say all the above will have been worth it.  Even if it turns an entire generation of young people, women, and marginalized communities away from them, I’m guessing they will say it was still worth it.

If the new pick does none of those things, then what?  Will evangelicals say, well, it was worth the shot (whether voting for Trump or vouching for his court picks) anyway?  Really?  Even in that case?  Since there is so much we still don’t know, I suppose we will have to wait and see.  It might do us well though to keep two things in mind.  First, be careful what you wish for.  Second, as a matter of history, and I would suggest, ethics, it has hardly ever worked out well for those who claim they had to do, or support, terrible things for better things to happen.

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