It is important to recognise that madness begets madness. The madness of some of the right is a long-delayed response to the growing madness on the left.
Evangelicals first decided to support Trump in 2016 because they saw their society and its politics going crazy and they wanted to oppose this. One of Trump’s attractions was that he was a fighter. But being a no-holds-barred fighter is not sufficient to be an effective political leader, much less an effective agent of cultural change, still less the kind of cultural rebuilding most Christians think is necessary.
I have often written on the growing madness on the left. The thing is you expect madness and extremism on the progressive left, increasingly unmoored from reality and common sense. You don’t expect it from Christians.
Let me offer you two examples of left madness. A psychiatrist, Aruna Khilanani, lectured recently at Yale. Her speech was a racist diatribe of hatred of white people. She said in part: “I had fantasies of unloading a revolver into the head of any white person that got in my way, burying their body, and wiping my bloody hands as I walked away relatively guiltless with a bounce in my step. Like I did the world a f…ing favour.” And: “White people are out of their minds …” Whites are, she said, “demented violent predators”. Talking to white people was a waste of time because that “assumes that white people can see and process what we are talking about”.
It took a lot of conservative agitation for institutions even to distance themselves from these remarks. Naturally their author suffered no sanction. Similarly, last year a Cambridge academic tweeted that “white lives don’t matter”. She said she was making a point about race rather than urging murder. Nor is it likely that whites will be systematically persecuted in the US or Britain.
But this kind of talk from the left, which is extremely common though seldom to such an acute degree, is hateful, foul and vile. It is designed to cause racial hostility. Even if white evangelicals do not, as frequently alleged, feel racially threatened, they certainly think the indulgence of such statements indicates a culture and a polity going mad and bad. The problem is, the best response to madness is not madness; you can’t beat madness with more and angrier madness. …
Stay the course:
Christians, in the US and the West generally, are confronted with a culture going mad and becoming more hostile to them. But they must answer the madness with calm conviction and even kindness. They need to fight some of the culture wars but should choose their battles carefully. They should be happy warriors, even kindly warriors.
There are three wrong ways for Christians to respond to a culture going mad: go to total war with it; surrender to it totally, thereby offering no ethical challenge; or retreat from it into a tight ghetto. The right path is different: continued engagement with the culture, insistence on proclaiming the truth, but taking victory and defeat both with good cheer. Politics is downstream of culture. Politics is important, but it can’t fix culture. Human example, creative institutions, sustained formation — these can change culture.