The Corner

Even the Non-Beethovens

A couple of days ago, I had a post about our symposium “Conservatives against Trump.” I said I was particularly grateful for the contribution of Russell Moore. It is not only right, it is moving.

Let me quote a little again:

Trump says that he is pro-life now, despite having supported partial-birth abortion in the past. The problem is not whether he can check a box. Pro-life voters expect leaders to have a coherent vision of human dignity …

Trump’s supposed pro-life conversion is rooted in Nietzschean, social-Darwinist terms. He knew a child who was to be aborted who grew up to be a “superstar.” Beyond that, Trump’s vitriolic — and often racist and sexist — language about immigrants, women, the disabled, and others ought to concern anyone who believes that all persons, not just the “winners” of the moment, are created in God’s image.

In my post, I said, “Yes, yes, a thousand times yes.” I’d like to add a word. When I was in my teens, I was wrestling with the issue of abortion — then and now a crucial one. I heard all sorts of arguments from all sides of the question.

One thing some anti-abortion people said was, “You never know when you’re going to snuff out the next Beethoven.” Or they would point to someone whose mother had considered an abortion and say, “See? See? He came up with the Salk vaccine!” (or whatever).

The truth is, most of us are not “superstars,” “stars,” or “winners.” A lot of people are sort of sad sacks. I appreciated what the anti-abortion arguers said about Beethoven et al.

But much more appealing and persuasive is the idea that life is life, period. Anything else lands you in Margaret Sanger Land, if not Dr. Mengele’s clinic.

Last month, I had an Impromptus column headed “Notes from Around.” The following was a vignette from the Albuquerque airport:

An old man is on his hands and knees, helping a younger man — though a middle-aged one — take off his shoes. To go through screening. The shoes aren’t just any shoes: They’re more like heavy, awkward boots. The younger man, the middle-aged man, is handicapped. The older man must be his father or caretaker or friend. It’s a hell of a struggle, to get off those boots.

I can’t help thinking of Jesus’ admonition to wash feet.

In an earlier journal, about a trip through Missouri, I had this:

In the DQ, a mother is feeding her adult child, severely handicapped. It may not be pretty. But it’s a definition of love.

Donald Trump talks in the language of “winners” and “losers,” and “strong” and “weak.” Those who say a word against him, he labels “losers.”

He views himself as “strong.” His supporters view him the same way. Anyone else is dismissed as either “weak” or “soft.”

Yesterday, Trump said, “A guy like Jeb Bush, he’s a nobody.” In truth, Bush is a substantial and sterling somebody. He’s not as popular as Trump at the moment. That says something about the populace, and something bad.

Of the other candidates, Trump said, “They have nothing. Rubio, soft. They’re all soft, all soft.”

I will mention again what I brought up in my post the other day: Trump mocked — physically mocked – a handicapped person. The way the meanest, most twisted nine-year-old might do on a playground. But Trump is 70 and running for president. He’s the frontrunner for a major party’s nomination!

Some supporters of Trump don’t like it when you point out all the white nationalists and racists and “alt” people and “cuck” people in their movement. My Twitter feed is full of this “alt” stuff. The words (vile, of course) are accompanied by pictures of ovens and Confederate flags and classical sculptures. (These sculptures tend to be homoerotic. Shades of Ernst Röhm?)

Obviously, there are unsavory people in every movement. And a leader is not responsible, necessarily, for those who follow him. But the whiff out of this movement is getting stronger every day, as far as I can see (or smell). Maybe I should get off Twitter and enjoy the company of decent, well-meaning Trumpsters? I trust they outnumber the others, by a lot.

In 2012, Trump’s now-spokeswoman sent out a tweet. She noted that Obama’s father was born in Africa and Romney’s in Mexico. She said, “Any pure breeds left?”

Today, she says she was joking. Fine. I like a joke. But there is a lot of unfunniness in the Trump army, and I caution against the whiff of brown — or what Russell Moore terms “Nietzscheism” and “social Darwinism.” You may find that the leaders you like don’t regard you as such a winner. You may even be weak, soft.

(Disclosure.)

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