Cruelty is the Point

Cruelty is the Point May 25, 2024

Unless one has been living under a rock (a mercy for sure right now), they are aware of the story regarding South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem and her new book, wherein she proudly recounts shooting her young dog, “Cricket.” And, not only Cricket, but a goat and some horses too.

I spent my young years living on a rural feedlot surrounded by farmland in California’s great Central Valley. We had dogs, cats, horses, cows, and so did many of the families around us. On the farms and ranches in that area, there were also sheep, goats, pigs, and chickens. These people liked to hunt and fish. They knew how to handle guns and animals. I never once heard of any of them just taking it upon themselves to take an animal out somewhere and shoot it. The idea she’s pushing that the urban people just don’t get us rural folk is hogwash.

Putting that aside, why would a person put something like that in a book, a political book especially?

As we ponder that question, here are some other facts to consider:

*Beginning in 2016, Trump encouraged his followers to use violence against protesters at his rallies-

*Though he tried to walk it back, Texas Governor Greg Abbott seemed to lament the fact they couldn’t just shoot illegal immigrants-

*Trump’s policy of separating immigrant families wasn’t an unfortunate outcome of enforcing the law, but an actual intent to separate families-

*The continual slandering of immigrants as “rapists” and “murderers” along with using words like “invasion” and then blaming many problems on them is an intentional attempt to stir up the hatred of the “other,” and those not like “us.”-

*According to some reporting, as to the border “crisis” there are plans being put in place by the Trump team (if he were to win in 2024) and their supporters to build huge detention centers or camps—hearkening back to the Nazi solution for “undesirables” and Jews.-

*Trump and his supporters have used the word “vermin” to describe immigrants—a clear nod to Hitler’s pre-war rhetoric-

*Some republicans don’t even want exceptions for the health of the mother when it comes to abortion-

I could go on and on. These are just a few examples leading to my point. Why would a governor brag about killing a dog? Why would people go out of their way to become a part of all the other examples given and revel in it? Why would people put out banners on their property that say things like, “F#*K Biden?” Why would a Trump supporter wear a shirt emblazoned with the statement: F*#k Your Feelings!”

Here is why: Cruelty is the point. In the modern GOP, there is no political platform or philosophy. There is no overarching political narrative, horizon, or goal based around principles and core beliefs.

Now there is only the cult of personality. There is “The Leader.” There is the “Strongman.” And what the leader wants is power. He wants to crush his enemies. He wants revenge. Every sleight, every imagined injury, every presumed indifference to his “genius” becomes a festering boil on his mind. He will show them. The only thing such a person can bring is cruelty.

And those who would admire such a person, who want to imitate such a person, who believe in him and like him because he hates the same people they do, can also only bring into the body politic a mad and petty cruelty.

The fact they do it under a shallow religious veneer is all the more damning and dangerous. This is where we are folks. The crassness, the shouting, the anger, the bullying, the almost gleeful adoption of ignorance, the anti-intellectualism, anti-science, and anti-expert mentality, backed up with an air of potential violence is all calculated and intentional.

Again: Cruelty is the point. That is why a person would boast about shooting a puppy. This is the modern GOP. This is Trump. And this is the guy still supported by a majority of white evangelicals. I can think of few things more distant from the teachings of Jesus or the example of his life. What a profound theological and discipleship fail. One for the ages. 

What do to? If one is a Christian, pray. Vote. And in the face of their celebration of cruelty, try and live out of a winsome grace, mercy, and justice, especially for the “least of these”- the weak and most vulnerable among us. Added to all: Courage. Bullies with their cruelty rarely last; they are usually found out and the light of day exposes their deep-seated weakness and fragility.

Please check out my book.

"What an informative and articulate article. Thank you."

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