Charlottesville, Virtue Signalling, and the Defenders of Trump

Charlottesville, Virtue Signalling, and the Defenders of Trump August 21, 2017

One of the things I’ve been warning of ever since “prolife” conservative Christians decided to chain themselves to Donald Trump and his nutty coterie of Alt Right Nazis is that they will dance to his tune, not he to theirs.  Everything since his rise has made that clear.  Conservative Christians went from “he’s a joke candidate” to “we oppose him but he’s got some good things to say” to “he’s flawed but we have to vote for the prolife candidate and, trust us, we will hold is feet to the fire” to “he is God’s Anointed Constantine and all who oppose him stand with Hillary Diocletian“.

That inevitable progression complete, conservative Christian Trump supporters have unfailingly been his most diehard defenders, passionately going to the mat to deny, excuse, and defend every filthy thing he says and does no matter what, because abortion.  And every time he moves the goalposts to some fresh outrage against common decency, the Holders of Feet to the Fire are in radically short supply while those who pooh pooh common decency are thick on the ground.

So last week, we found ourselves here:

In short, Trump’s extremely clear message, gladly received by the white supremacists and Nazis with whom he sympathizes, is “Everybody is equally guilty, especially the people who were run over by Nazis. Everybody is equally fine people, especially Nazis.”

So people of good will and with a shred of self-respect and common decency did the obvious thing: they stated the bleeding obvious fact that Nazis are bad, that Trump’s tepid condemnation and immediate reversal and defense of Nazi was a stain and that post-Charlottesville, nobody doubt that Trump is an obvious racist and Nazi sympathizer.

The response of Good White Christian Trump defenders? Condemnation of Nazis–freaking Nazis!–is “virtue signalling”. Simcha Fisher replies on Facebook:

When Trump was elected, reasonable folks kept saying, “Let’s not be alarmist. If we keep making dire, premature warnings about [scoff scoff] torch-wielding Nazis and bloodshed in the streets, people will be tired of listening when the actual danger arises.”

So here we are with torch-wielding Nazis and bloodshed in the streets, and reasonable folks have moved on to scoffing about virtue signalling and moral preening from folks who express their helplessness and anger on social media.

Well, when is the right time to speak up? What is the right thing to say? What is the right thing to do? What qualifies as actual danger? What are we waiting for?

She adds a little though experiment:

“Thought experiment: An ISIS recruit mows down a crowd of Christian protesters, killing one. Trump responds by condemning “this degree of hatred, bigotry and violence, on many sides.” Reporters ask him about his thoughts specifically on ISIS, and he walks out of the room.
How’s that feel to you? Fine? Liberal press blowing things out of proportion? Eh?”

Now, quite by coincidence something else happened at just about the same time that highlighted the hypocrisy of the “prolife” Christian Trump defender perfectly. Professor Robert George made the perfectly common sense statement:

This is, after all, totally in keeping with the teaching of the Church that racism is “foreign to the mind of Christ” in Nostra Aetate.

But here’s the thing, he was *immediately* body blocked by a “prolife” Catholic charging Robert George–Robert George!–with being insufficiently prolife:

Dr. George replied, sensibly enough:

Surely someone with my record of defending unborn babies doesn’t have to mention the evil of abortion every time I condemn racism.

Ah, but you do, Dr. George. Because one of the most common stunts of the anti-abortion-but-not-prolife Trump defender is cry “virtue signalling!” whenever you uphold a teaching of the Church that threatens the Culture of Death talking points dear to the Party of Trump (such as Alt Right white supremacy) while rigorous demanding prolife virtue signalling 24/7/365. Stray for one second into any area of Church teaching that makes the Party of Trump look bad and you will *always* find that the conservative Catholic Trump defender will demand that you display your prolife credentials and then do all he can to suggest you are secretly trying to help “the baby killers.”

This is one of the core differences between the old anti-abortion-but-not-prolife movement that is enthralled with Trump and his party of crooks and Alt Right racists, and the New Prolife Movement, which is simply about upholding the whole of the Church’s teaching about the dignity of human life from conception to natural death.

The Old Prolife Movement *says* that the “non-negotiable” issues are things like abortion and euthanasia. Would that it were so. But in reality, the non-negotiable issues are defense of the Party of Trump and whatever it is doing. So, for instance, if the focus were *really* on defense of the unborn, why would you waste one second of time or energy fighting to defend the proposition that people marching and shouting “Jews will not replace us!” are “fine people”? What in the name of God does that have to do with being “prolife”? Or why would you waste one breath to defend a thrice-married apostate whose chief boast is that he made Breitbart the “platform for the Alt Right“?

That is the sleight of hand that is the bread and butter of the Old Prolife Movement: *say* the focus is on abortion and euthanasia, but in fact spend your time and energy bashing the Pope (as Lifesite news constantly does), fighting the Church on the death penalty, battling the Church to oppose a living wage, battling the Church to defend torture, battling the Church on just war, battling the Church to deny there is a right to health care, battling the Church on refugees, battling the Church on immigrants, battling the Church (now) to defend the proposition that Nazis–freaking Nazis–are “fine people” while declaring their opponents to be “virtue signalers”. And all the while you are investing all your time and energy in such battles against the Church, constantly virtue signal the correct words about abortion and, most important, virtue signal that those calling for consistent obedience to the Church are somehow secretly pro-abortion.

Meanwhile, in the real world, there are, of course, ways to navigate this thorny and complex problem of how to unequivocally say “Nazism is bad” while not approving of abortion or euthanasia. The beginning is, as ever, to stop thinking in culture war categories and start thinking with the Church. Instead of repeating the everlasting lie “You have to support Trump Because Abortion” tune into reality and live in the present.

So you voted for Trump and feel like you did what seemed like the best option at the time. Fine. You were doing your best. I believe you. But that day is over and now, right now, in the present, Trump is outraging common decency every day, up to and including defending Nazis.

Here’s the thing: God allows U turns. Don’t waste one more second of time trying to convince me you meant well. I believe you. Show me you mean well now, not by talking about what you did on 11/8/16, but by *acting* now and rejecting this treasonous Nazi sympathizer. The past is forgotten. All is forgiven. Now get to work along with the rest of the Resistance and resist. You are more than welcome on the Good Guy Team by opposing Nazis. This guy did it. So did this guy. So can you.

As to “But Abortion!” I say what I’ve always said: “Be more prolife, not less.” It’s Day 274 of the Trump Administration. To every Trump defender I say: Abortion is still the law of the land (and will be on the last day of his rule). You have gotten nothing from him but a judge who says Roe is “the law of the land” and an HHS Mandate still solidly in place. And for your troubles, you are now defending Nazis. Given that your one really solid achievement is to prove that you will always dance to his tune and never he to yours, why keep sacrificing your credibility and the gospel to serve this mountebank?

Here is what Catholics can do instead of making excuses for Nazis and the Presidents who defend them..

Live the whole gospel, not just the parts the Party of Trump allow you to live.

"Late to the game, but while I agree with him that the end doesn’t justify ..."

Building Bridges of Trust vs. Winning
"I also think netflix is more evil than good, the things they have and support ..."

A reader struggles with scruples about ..."
"I am pretty sure remote cooperation is evil unless with proportionate reasons..."

A reader struggles with scruples about ..."
"Just one nit - the Dickey Amendment (the bit of law that supposedly "forbids" the ..."

Heresy of the Day: Antinomianism

Browse Our Archives