Donald Trump, Mark Shea and the Facebook Generation

Donald Trump, Mark Shea and the Facebook Generation March 7, 2016
How we see own personal Trumps

By that, I don’t mean Mark supports or likes Donald Trump. Quite the contrary.  Mark routinely takes on Trump and Trump’s supporters the way Mark does most things: in the same manner as Donald Trump.  In fact, that’s my point.  If you want to be brutally honest, you’ll admit that Mark Shea is simply a Catholic Internet version of Donald Trump.  If you visit Facebook or similar Social Media sites, you’ll see that Mark is far from the glaring exception.  Go onto most Internet sites, including major media outlets, read the comments and you’ll see Donald Trump all over.  And in some cases, such as Daily Kos or or even such esteemed sites as the Huffington Post, you might find published editorials that aren’t much different.

I hate to say it, but my boys are correct.  Donald Trump is the candidate that the Facebook generation deserves.  And it isn’t because of a few radical exceptions to the rule.  It is the rule.  We are the generation that liberal society has been striving for over the decades.  From the 50s through the 60s and 70s and beyond, Trump is what we’ve been aiming at.

Just look at Mark Shea as an obvious example. Mark is familiar to most Catholics on the Internet and is highly regarded by many. And yet, not only does he resemble Trump in his approach to topics and interaction on his various sites, he does so as a representative of the Catholic Church.  At least Trump just represents politics.  And yet Mark is quite the hero for many Catholics.  For many non-Catholics, too.  Including those who are quick to attack and bemoan the Trump phenomenon.

How can I be so heartless and judgmental to compare Mark to Trump?  Or compare others on Social Media to Trump?  Easy.  I read.  I listen to Trump and what people criticize him for, and then visit various Facebook pages, including Mark’s, and I see no difference.   Trump, beyond the policies he advocates – when we can figure them out – is brash, crude, rude, vulgar, sinful, mean spirited, ill-informed and simply a lousy person because of how he interacts with others and treats others who dare disagree with him.

So how is that different than Mark, or even Mark’s own followers?  Or the followers on any one of a million sites?  For instance, Mark’s own lack of substance and knowledge of topics he comments on outside of Catholicism is legendary.  Even those who support him and agree with him have hung their heads over his approach to such topics as the Death Penalty or Gun Control.  The same is a common complaint about Trump.  Mark thinks nothing of using the same language Trump is condemned for using.  Mark attacks through name calling and condescension and scorn any who dare disagree, unless Mark happens to be friends with the violators.  Mark isn’t even above making false and slanderous accusations against people, even to the point of libel.

But Trump says horrible things!  He mocks people for things they can’t help.  He made fun of Carly Fiorina’s looks.  He talks about killing people.  He talks about destroying other countries.  So does Mark.  One of his Facebook followers recently said that things would be better off if America was burned to ashes.  Mark only disagreed because he said Americans, being the murderous barbarians that we are, would take millions of innocent lives with us.  Mark justified his view of America by reminding us of the millions of Indians and Slaves who fell to our murderous, barbaric ancestors.  Imagine if Trump or a Trump supporter produced the same dialogue about another country, like Mexico or China.  Imagine the outrage and anger.

And Mark not only uses death and suffering to advance his opinions, he even has begun to mock people murdered by guns – if those same people were hard right wing activists.  That might seem understandable to some.  But remember, Mark and many others were shocked at how many celebrated the death of Osama bin Ladin or Hugo Chavez, saying that the only appropriate Christian response was to pray for their souls.  Yet many of those same Catholics are rightly shocked when Trump appears so callous and cruel to other people in the world.  Notice a trend?   What about making fun of others like Trump does?  Last election cycle Mark was forced by his own readers to remove a post he had submitted that made fun of Michelle Bachmann’s eyes and facial features.  Sound familiar?

If you want to be objective, there is little difference between how Mark Shea approaches the modern debate and the way Trump does.  Unless you blindly follow and agree with Mark, you see some glaring problems in his approach and his stances that are not unlike Trump’s.  Ah, but that’s the rub.  How can people honestly follow Trump despite his views and behavior?  I give you Mark Shea.  More than one Catholic on the Internet has railed against Donald Trump for multiple reasons, while at the same time endorsing and loving Mark Shea and similar individuals who approach the modern debate in the same exact manner for which those same Catholics condemn Trump.

It’s not just Catholics mind you.  Look at Jon Stewart.  Look at Bill Maher.  Why, we’ve been wanting a Trump generation for decades.  From the movie Network, to George Carlin, to Clinton’s famous War Room, we’ve been itching for a nation where people who tell it like it is are the heroes.  Those who hide under the hypocrisy of manners and polite conversation are, even today, mocked when convenient.  People on Mark’s own Facebook page have been far worse than Trump to others who don’t see it their way.  Heck, some of the people on his page are like that to people who agree with them!

And again, it’s not just Mark’s page.  But Mark is a grand example because so many on the Catholic blogosphere have hated Trump for myriad reasons only to turn around and cheer Mark and others despite the obvious similarities.  Such well known and celebrated Catholic voices as Fr. Dwight Longenecker, Simcha Fisher and Steven Greydanus all have heaped scorn on Trump but have celebrated and praised Mark Shea in turn.   I can’t help but think the thing we hate most about Trump is that we know full well, after decades of comedians’ specials, daytime talk shows, talk radio, cable news, Comedy Central, Facebook, Twitter, the Internet, and HBO, he is everything we have wanted all along.

That’s ultimately the point.  People who

ke-jab-fox-news”>love Jon Stewart

or Dan Savage or Bill Maher or Ann Coulter and yet are appalled at Donald Trump are the problem. People who flock to Mark Shea and cheer him as he calls down Raca and Fool, bases his personal stances on little to no research, and even goes so far as crowing over the deaths of those he loathes and launching false and slanderous accusations, nonetheless despise Trump because of Trump’s ignorance and manners.  These are the Trump generation.  They are the Trump followers, even if their own personal Trump goes by a different name.

If we don’t like it, then don’t live it.  And if we insist on living it, then when we see Trump finally come to the stage of power, then accept it.  Don’t be like those old stereotypical hypocrites of days gone by, the Mrs. Robinsons who were filth and vulgarity expecting manners and politeness from a fake and superficial civilization.  If we want to act the way we act, and celebrate others who do the same, and give them passes because we like them, or agree with them, then for heaven’s sake don’t compound the problem we’ve created with glaring hypocrisy.

If we really are upset with Trump and don’t want a country of Trump ethics and behaviors and ideas and dialogue, then perhaps it’s time to look prayerfully at how we ourselves act in this era of Facebook and Social Media.  Admit that there is nothing about Donald Trump that the fan base of Jon Stewart, or Bill Maher, or Ann Coulter, or even Mark Shea can condemn. If we realize the error and begin cleaning shop first by looking at ourselves and how we have enabled this mess, then we just might be taking the first step toward turning things around.   And once we’ve cleaned our house, we can look at some of those figures of the modern entertainment, cable and Internet world, and begin insisting that they get their acts together as well.

A Lenten reflection, courtesy of the boys.

Your fasting ends in quarreling and strife,A)” style=”box-sizing: border-box; line-height: 22px; position: relative; top: 0px; vertical-align: top;”>
    and in striking each other with wicked fists.
You cannot fast as you do today
 and expect your voice to be heardB)” style=”box-sizing: border-box; line-height: 22px; position: relative; top: 0px; vertical-align: top;”> on high.  Isaiah 58:4-7

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