Seaborn Hall, 7/08/17
Michael Brown’s recent Don’t Sell Your Soul In Defense Of President Trump argues that Americans should not “sacrifice their ethics” or demean their faith in defense of Trump’s recent tweets. Mika and Morning Joe of MSNBC fame, in a culmination to consistent lowbrow and voracious attacks on the President, recently claimed that he is not mentally or emotionally fit for office. Trump responded with his own attack. According to Brown, Christians who come to the defense of Trump “tarnish” their witness and “discredit” themselves. They should be “ashamed of his Twitter attacks.” They should “find these tweets embarrassing.”
Well, I don’t. Usually I respect and appreciate what Brown has to say, but here he completely misses the point. First of all, I think we can all agree that President Trump should omit any variants of the term “blood” from all future tweets. But, the issue is not whether we should show ‘blind allegiance’ to President Trump – we should not – or whether we should be trying to coach the President on the language of his tweets/responses to those in the liberal media. We should really leave that to him as well – he has proved by his election win that he understands how to combat dark forces. Part of Brown’s argument is that “when he [Trump] does this he ultimately hurts himself.” But that is not only not the issue, it is a misinterpretation of the media parries.
A more recent Brown essay, The Tweeting President: Madman Or Master Manipulator?, compares the possible positive and negatives of Trump’s tweets, generalizing on one point that, “Trump can do no wrong in the eyes of his most devoted followers.” And perhaps it is true about his most devoted followers, or perhaps not. But overall, in the eyes of many of his Christian supporters it is not true.
According to Brown his main point in writing is not Trump’s behavior, but Christian affirmation of it. But the two come together within the radical change that has occurred in political culture over the last two decades or so and the best way to fight that change. The real issues are understanding Trump, understanding the playing field, and, as Christians or others who might mis-understand, understanding appropriate strategy and responses on that field. Newt Gingrich has recently addressed the first, I will focus here on the later two.
The New Reality: The Playing Field Is A Battlefield
First, I would like to point out that affirmation of Trump’s tweets is not necessarily the same as affirming the same type of behavior in an intimate personal setting. Trump is the President. Anything he does becomes ‘Presidential’ by definition and should be interpreted on a national scale. This means an apparent personal attack is not just a personal attack, it becomes something bigger. The question is, “What?”
Depending on perspective, most aware Americans understand that the political state of the nation is somewhere between a culture war (Bill O’Reilly) and a civil war (Dennis Prager). Brown’s perspective, whether he realizes it or not, denies the reality that we are in a real – if yet, largely non-violent – war, in America (an argument for another time). He equates, for example, conservative attacks on Hilary or Obama with liberal attacks on Trump, asking how the reader would feel if Trump had “gone after Rush Limbaugh and Laura Ingraham” in the same way, and if he would be defending him then.
There is no moral equivalence. The quality and quantity of the attacks is different. I don’t remember any conservative host calling for the death or the assassination of either Hilary or Obama or using the consistently vile language of Joe and Mika and a host of others. The liberal media’s attacks on the President and his family are ad hominem, vile, and relentless.
In the same way, when Brown says, “What if it was your son or daughter or spouse or parent that the president was attacking with such language?”, he also misses the point. When the President speaks it rises to the level of national dialogue. By this I mean that his attacks are to an ideology more than they are to a person – even when they appear personal.
We are at war – if not actual and violent, political, cultural, and spiritual – and Trump is wholly engaged in the fight. Trump’s tweets are a weapon in that war. Responses like Brown’s, as sincere and well meaning as they are, do nothing to engage Americans, especially Christians, in the non-spiritual spheres of that fight. They encourage supporters and non-partisans to stand against President Trump at a time that he needs standing with – yes, in prayer, but also in emotional and political support. They encourage the usual church pew passivity.
The single requirement and quality we need from a President in this war is that of a fighter – as others have said, an “alley-fighter.” That’s exactly what Trump is and maybe eventually he will awaken some of the Christians who think they have to be nice all of the time, or that they need a President who speaks nicely.
My point is that traditional and conservative Americans – whether they realize it or not – are in a war with an enemy and they need a leader in that war. David Horowitz, in Big Agenda, defines the Progressive Left’s strategy against America with clarity. Brown’s response, perhaps without his realizing it, discourages a warrior mentality and promotes docile Christian response, as if the President acting within a Christian’s or a tradition’s boundaries of comfort is the issue. It is not.
As Brown says, “I hoped he [Trump] would become more presidential (in the traditional sense of the word) once in office.” When Christian leaders can’t punch out of the paper bag of their own traditions and it leads them to encourage inappropriate niceties in church culture it weakens the nation.
If we are in a war there are different fronts of battle. Michael Brown may be good at fighting on the spiritual front and I’m appreciative of his leadership there. But President Trump knows how to fight on the political, media, and cultural fronts. We currently live in an environment where, almost daily, major media or celebrity voices either literally or subtly call for the President’s assassination. Daily, his character and the character of those around him, including his family, are derided and assassinated.
In response to Trump’s tweet that his use of media is “Modern Day Presidential,” Brown’s retort is, “these tweets are “modern-day presidential” because of our current “modern-day president.”” What Brown fails to get is that the tweets are modern day presidential, not because of the President, but because of the demands of a new culture. We now live in a reality TV show culture. The President’s behavior did not create the reality, it merely understands and responds to the fact that we live in a new reality.
For a deeper understanding of the political side of the new reality one need only look as far as Big Agenda, The Swamp, by Eric Bolling, The Smear, by Sharyl Attkisson, Understanding Trump, by Newt Gingrich, or Shattered, by Allen/Parnes. In the new reality we must know when to respect tradition and when to disregard it. We must know when to hold back and when to release ‘Shock and Awe.’
Sometimes The Right Strategy And Response Is ‘Shock and Awe’
If Trump’s tweets are “childish” or “thin-skinned” – and I am not declaring that some of them don’t appear that way – those close to a leader or general are the ones to hold him accountable, and Trump has plenty of good advisors in Mike Pence and his cabinet. They understand the subtleties of the battle. Those in the enlisted ranks, at least by comparison, should not criticize every individual move. They don’t have the inside information needed to do so and they may not see the big picture.
Though a President is not a king he is like one in some respects. Brown mentions Proverbs, so I will as well. According to Proverbs (25:3) the heart of a king is “unsearchable.” It also notes that the wicked must be removed before a nation can be established (25:5).
Brown misses what Trump is fighting for when the President tweets. At the risk of projecting on an unknowable President, I would like to suggest that, with his tweets, he is fighting to take back public opinion and the ability to influence that the liberal media has stolen. Yes, he uses ‘shock and awe’ to do it, but by his branding, “Psycho Joe,” and “low I.Q. Crazy Mika,” Trump gives them ‘handles’ and attempts to inoculate the public from the virus of their opinions. He takes back enemy ground.
To assassinate an assassin is not the moral equivalent of killing an innocent. To assassinate the character or identity of a character assassin is not the same as assassinating the character of an innocent. In this sense Jesus’ battle with the most prominent influencers of His time – who sought to kill Him – is, if not perfect, a great analogy: He denounced a group known as Pharisees, to their face, calling them “hypocrites,” “blind guides,” “fools,” and “white-washed tombs” (Matthew 23:13f). Like the Joe’s and Mika’s of our day, they also feared that their traditions would be upset and their power taken.
It is not selling your soul to fight evil and stand loyally on the side of the leader that leads that fight. As Ecclesiastes 3 says, there is a time for everything: to plant, and to uproot; to kill and to heal; to speak and to be silent. This is the time to support, not criticize.
Brown or someone else might quote me one of the verses from James about how the tongue is a fire causing damage. Or one from somewhere else that counsels a soft response to wrath. Or Proverbs 16:10 about a king and his words. But, perhaps I could counter that one with one of my own: “The terror of a king is like the growling of a lion; He who provokes him to anger forfeits his own life (Proverbs 20:2).”
As Brown and others know, context determines all meaning, plus, there is a difference between individual and corporate theology. The New Testament speaks mostly to the individual. But, a lot of the Old Testament speaks to nations, for example, when God consistently tells Israel to go to war or uses other nations to judge Israel through war or conquest. At risk of sounding over dramatic, President Trump is fighting evil on a national level. I concede that he does not fight perfectly, but warriors in battle never do. War is messy.
To take the war metaphor further, Brown’s response to the Trump tweet is like ‘friendly-fire’ – it is synonymous with accidentally shooting the leader who is leading Brown’s own fight. The time to constructively criticize is after the battle has been fought, but we are are not there yet.
The more appropriate response now would be to talk about the biased news coverage at MSNBC and Joe and Mika’s twisted Trump coverage, as Brown has done at times with others. Americans believe that media caters to Democrats by 64% to 22%; and, the recent Harvard study proves the point. Or, to attack CNN who, with its recent plethora of fake news, should be known from this time forward as the ‘Counterfeit News Network.’ Another possible response would be to list all of the media slander and vile Mika and Joe tirades against the President, as Hannity recently did. But instead Brown aims at the President?
Someone behind the lines should not call the platoon leader – or the General leading the troops – and counsel him on the language of a proper response to his enemies while he’s leading the charge up the hill against a hail of bullets, tanks, and mortars!
You Don’t ‘Sell Your Soul In Defense of Trump’
Brown sums up his views in his most recent article saying that Trump’s tweets are a “mixture of carnality and calculation.” He seems appalled that Trump could devastate the tradition of the Presidency by showing his real self. But the new reality demands authenticity from everyone.
I would argue that a President today is no longer required to live up to Brown’s, or yesterday’s, standard of “Presidential.” Nor to Brown’s tweets. And let us remember that a President is not a king and most Americans, myself included, do not require that he be a spiritual leader or icon. According to The Dark Side of Camelot, by Pulitzer-prize-winning journalist Seymour M. Hersh, President John Kennedy held orgies in the White House. Was he presidential? His tenure is remembered as ‘Camelot.’ Perhaps its remembered that way because an adoring media hid his real self from the public. Trump has no such ally.
Even those who believe in God were left to wonder at the miracle of Trump’s ascension to the Presidency. If you do not believe it is his destiny I guess you must believe it is just blind luck. But here is a little known fact: a multitude of prophetic voices in the Christian church predicted Trump’s Presidency up to eleven years before the fact.
I would like to think that Brown believes with many of us that the President is who and where he is meant to be, but his stance in his most recent articles leaves me to wonder whether he would have endorsed anyone from the following choices: A manipulator and liar who stole his brother’s inheritance; a fugitive from justice in exile with no orator’s ability and a possible rage issue; an adulterer, murderer and liar who is generally considered one of the best leaders in history. As Brown well knows Jacob, Moses, and David were all leaders of nations, and they were all God’s choice.
The progressives on the left have made this a street fight for the political, cultural, and spiritual arenas of the nation. It is time for the rest of us to recognize it and get into the fight. We need to understand which front we are fighting on, and who is leading the battle on that front – spiritual, political, cultural, etc. – and fight accordingly.
Independent, conservative and traditional Americans, and Christians need to stop criticizing the President on small things and understand the big picture and the new reality. This is a season of war. You don’t ‘sell your soul in defense of President Trump’ when the fight is for the soul of America.
Seaborn Hall has a degree in management from Georgia Tech, two masters degrees in theology and has studied at the doctoral level. Formerly he was a regional director at a national top-50 RIA; he currently manages a family investment company, writes, and publishes the Common Sense Group websites