Trump, Not So Statuesque

Things are looking down for the Donald.

For a long time, Republicans have brandished the same old narrative to try to scare their way into the White House.

Their candidates were presented as the patriarchs, protecting the house from invaders with dark skin.

With Nixon, it was the Southern Strategy, raising alarms about the dismantling of Jim Crow laws.

With Reagan, it was launching his 1980 campaign on fairgrounds near where the Klan murdered three civil rights activists.

With Bush senior, it was Willie Horton coming to stab you and rape your girlfriend.

With W. and Cheney, it was Qaeda terrorists coming back to kill us.

With Donald Trump, it was Mexican rapists and the Obama birther lie.

For re-election, Trump is sifting through the embers of the Civil War, promising to protect America from “troublemakers” and “agitators” and “anarchistsrioting, looting and pulling down statues that they find racially offensive. “They said, ‘We want to get Jesus,’” Trump ominously told Sean Hannity Thursday night.

But Trump is badly out of step with the national psyche. The actual narrative gripping America is, at long last, about white men in uniforms targeting black and brown people.

In the last election, Trump milked white aggrievement to catapult himself into the White House. But even Republicans today recognize that we have to grapple with systemic racism and force some changes in police conduct — except for our president, who hailed stop-and-frisk in the Hannity interview.

The other scary narrative is about our “protean” enemy, as Tony Fauci calls Covid-19, which Trump pretends has disappeared, with lethal consequences. With no plan, he is reduced to more race-baiting, calling the virus “the China plague” and the “Kung Flu.” Nasty nicknames don’t work on diseases.

The pathogen is roaring back in the South and the West in places that buoyed Trump in 2016. Texas, Florida and Arizona are turning into Covid Calamity Land after many residents emulated their president and scorned masks and social distancing as a Commie hoax.

Is Trump’s perverse Southern Strategy to send the older men and women who are a large part of his base to the I.C.U.?

The president showed off his sociopathic flair by demanding the repeal of Obamacare — just because he can’t stand that it was done by Barack Obama. Millions losing their jobs and insurance during a plague and he wants to eliminate their alternative? Willful maliciousness.

And this at the same time he has been ensuring more infections by lowballing the virus, resisting more testing because the numbers would not be flattering to him, sidelining Dr. Fauci and setting a terrible example.

The Dow fell 700 points on the news that Texas and Florida are ordering a Covid-driven last call, closing their bars again, and the virus is revivifying in 30 states.

In 2016, the mood was against the status quo, represented by Hillary Clinton. But now the mood is against chaos, cruelty, deception and incompetence, represented by Trump. In light of our tempestuous, vertiginous times, Joe Biden’s status quo seems comforting.

It is a stunning twist in history that the former vice president was pushed aside in 2016 by the first black president and put back in the game this year by pragmatic black voters.

Bill Clinton was needy; he played a game with voters called “How much do you love me?” Do you love me enough to forgive me for this embarrassing personal transgression, or that one?

But Trump has taken that solipsism to the stratosphere, asking rallygoers in Tulsa to choose him over their health, possibly their lives, recklessly turning a medical necessity into a tribal signifier. I wasn’t surprised that so many seats there were empty, but that so many were filled.

In a rare moment of self-awareness, Trump whinged to Hannity about Biden: “The man can’t speak and he’s going to be your president ’cause some people don’t love me, maybe.”

It’s not only the virus that Trump is willfully blind about. A Times story that broke Friday evening was extremely disturbing about Trump’s love of Vladimir Putin. American intelligence briefed the president about a Russian military intelligence unit secretly offering bounties to Taliban-linked insurgents for killing coalition troops in Afghanistan, including Americans. Yet Trump has still been lobbying for Putin to rejoin the G7.

Trump had a chance, with twin existential crises, to be better after his abominable performance in his first three years. But then, we’ve known all along that he is not interested in science, racial harmony or leading the basest elements of his base out of Dixie and into the 21st century. Yes, the kid from Queens enjoys his newfound status as a son of the Confederacy.

Wall Street Journal editorial Thursday warned that he could be defeated because he has no message beyond personal grievances and “four more years of himself.”

But Trump has always been about Trump. And the presidency was always going to distill him to his Trumpiest essence.

I asked Tim O’Brien, the Trump biographer, what to expect as the man obsessed with winning faces humiliating rejection.

He will descend further into abuse, alienation and authoritarianism,” O’Brien said. “That’s what he’s stewing on most of the time, the triple A’s.”

Good times.

Interview with John Fea, author of BELIEVE ME

07:31
So there was certainly the policy.
07:33
And then on the other hand, you had the character issues.
07:39
That evangelicals would sort of sell their moral authority to speak truth to the world
07:50
for a handful of Supreme Court justices or this or that social or cultural issue; for
07:57
me, the fact that this man had a history of all kinds of . . . involved in the porn industry,
08:05
he was crude, he disrespected women.
08:10
The things he said about his opponents, we could go into specifics about that.
08:18
I’m a believer that there needs to be some kind of moral fabric to a republic in order
08:25
for the republic to work.
08:27
Now, where you find that morality, we could debate that question; I’ve written a little
08:32
about that elsewhere.
08:33
But a moral republic needs some kind of moral leader, some person of character, and he was
08:40
not it.
08:41
And I think you could make an argument against him, not even a Christian argument; he’s just
08:45
not good for America.
08:47
But yet evangelicals were so driven by their culture war.
08:52
Win the culture war, get the justices we need, elect the right guy; this kind of model, “playbook”
08:59
I call it in the book, this playbook for winning the culture that they were willing to overlook
09:05
all the character flaws and that was the second thing of course that bothered me.
09:10
I think it bothered a lot of other evangelicals.
09:12
I think that character issue bothered most evangelicals, whether they voted for Trump
09:17
or not, but ultimately the playbook: how to win the culture wars by electing the right
09:24
justices, the right congressmen, and the right president was so overwhelmingly strong and
09:30
had been so inculcated, so indoctrinated into the way evangelicals today think about politics,
09:38
that I should have seen it coming.
09:42
I should have seen this–if you look at the past 15 years, this was all building up to
09:47
this point.
09:48
Now, I think, I tend to think of this as kind of a last gasp of the old Christian Right;
09:56
I think that most of the people who voted for Trump came of age during the late ’70s
10:03
and ’80s when people like Jerry Falwell and the Christian Right were articulating this
10:08
playbook for how to win the culture for the first time.
10:12
I think the average Trump voter is 57 years old.
10:16
So I do have hope, especially as I look at young people in Christian colleges, like Messiah
10:21
College where I teach, who are much more interested in different kinds of questions related to
10:27
justice and social ills and those kinds of things in terms of how they exercise their faith.
10:32
But I think, I hope this is, I think I see this as a last gasp–I think in the book I
10:39
call it–I occasionally teach a course on the Civil War.
10:44
Some of your viewers might remember the last great engagement of the Battle of Gettysburg:
10:53
Picket’s Charge where the Confederate, Confederacy made one last charge before they were–and
11:00
almost were successful–before they were beat back once and for all.
11:04
Those who know their Civil War history know the war went downhill from that point.
11:10
I hope that’s what happened, that’s what’s gonna happen, that’s what we’re seeing here.
11:16
So, as I look back, I looked at the last 50 years, I saw all of these grievances that
11:26
evangelicals believed were happening, whether they be sexual politics: abortion; the ERA, the
11:36
Women’s Rights movement.
11:38
Evangelicalism has always been a patriarchal culture.
11:45
I think there’s a reaction to that.
11:46
I think there was a reaction to integration, racial integration, desegregation.
11:54
I think there were prayer in public schools, Bible taking out of the public schools, prayer
11:59
removed from public schools.
12:00
I think there’s this perfect storm that emerges in the ’60s and ’70s that prompts people like
Jerry Falwell and others to establish again this kind of political playbook to win the
culture back.
12:14
And Trump proved that, just how powerful that playbook really is and continue–was, and
12:22
continues to be, even to the point that someone like Donald Trump could win.
12:28
Again, I’m writing primarily to evangelicals in this book.
12:33
I think there will be a secondary audience of American religious historians, people who
12:38
are interested in American religion who want to take a peek into what evangelicals are
12:43
talking about.
12:44
I think there’s some good history in the book, though, too.
12:46
One of the things I try to unpack is show how there’s always been a dark side to American
12:52
evangelicalism.
12:55
We can talk about the way in which evangelicals have been on the front lines of anti-slavery,
social justice movements, international poverty relief, all of these kinds of things.
And we need to celebrate that I think; I’m not one of these people, who–I am an evangelical,
so I rejoice that evangelicals are doing these things.
But there’s also a dark side.
Even as someone like Lyman Beecher, who I write about in the third chapter, even as
he is fighting slavery, he’s also one of the leading nativists.
He doesn’t want catholics coming in and undermining his protestant nation.
So this story goes back a long way and I think what Trump does, is he appeals to the worst
side of evangelicalism in its 2, 300-year history.
Every time evangelicals are not representing the true virtues of their faith, where they
13:58
fail, I think Trump seizes on that history.
14:04
This is a history that defended the institution of slavery.
14:07
This is a history that had such certainty about what is true in the fundamentalist movement.
14:16
This is a movement that prevented, didn’t want certain kinds of immigrants coming into
14:20
the country.
14:21
There’s a long history of this.
14:23
I’d like my fellow evangelicals to at least be exposed to that history.
14:29
I think when ordinary evangelicals, lay men and women, think about evangelical history
14:35
they celebrate this providential idea.
14:38
“God is with us!
14:40
God is doing great things through people.”
14:42
And I think that’s important.
14:44
I think God does obviously work in this world and uses people in this world.
14:49
But also the reality of human sin: evangelicals are not immune.
14:55
Obviously!
14:56
If anyone knows better, it’s an evangelical who believes in this conversion experience,
15:03
one’s saved from the consequences of sin, becoming born again or becoming–accepting
15:08
Jesus, or whatever that looks like.
15:12
So, I want them to see there is a darker side to the history that Trump is tapping into.
15:21
Am I going to convince the 81% that they made a wrong decision?
15:28
Most I probably will not, but I do believe there are some fence-sitters out there, people
15:32
who maybe held their nose and voted for Trump.
15:39
Maybe they need to think through exactly, they may be open to thinking through a little
15:43
bit more, in terms of what this man represents and what the policy decisions he is putting
15:49
forth represent.
15:52
And hopefully it will force evangelicals–maybe “force” is too strong a word, but it might
15:55
encourage evangelicals to think more deeply about political engagement.
16:04
And when a politician comes along and says, “Let’s make America great again,” he’s ultimately–or
16:11
she, in this case he–is ultimately making a historical statement.
16:17
So I think evangelicals have to be careful.
16:19
When was America great?
16:22
Let’s go back and think about that.
16:24
What does Trump mean when he says, “Make America great again?”
16:28
And before you start using these evangelical catch-phrases like “reclaim” and “restore”
16:34
and “let’s get back to” and “let’s bring back the way it used to be,” we need to think more
16:44
deeply about what, exactly what it was like back then, how it used to be.
16:49
So I think even if the book forces evangelicals to kind of rethink even their phraseology
16:55
and how they, what they say when they enter the public sphere, public square, I think
17:00
that will be a contribution in some ways.
17:02
I’ll be happy if that happens.
17:06
So I think race plays an important role in this book.
17:11
I think that’s a contribution here.
17:13
There’s a lot of reasons why evangelicals voted for Trump.
17:17
Sexual politics I think is a big one.
17:19
I think race is also an issue.
17:22
There is a certain degree of, still a certain degree of fear among white evangelicals that,
17:30
not only African Americans, but Hispanics; America’s becoming less white, there’s been
17:36
a lot of good sociology written about this lately about the “end of white America.”
17:41
So I think this is, the white evangelicals who voted for Donald Trump, the 81% of white
17:48
evangelicals, are responding to these changes with a sense of fear, with a sense of nostalgia
17:56
for a white world in which they held power.
17:59
So I think this is part of the story, part of the appeal of Donald Trump.
18:06
Let’s try to, when they say, “Let’s make America great again,” you talk to most African Americans,
18:13
the best time to live in America is today.
18:16
They don’t want to go back.
18:18
And I’ve had some great conversations over the years with African American evangelicals
18:22
and worked with them on things and I talk a little bit about that in one of the chapters
18:26
of the book about this idea that we are somehow a Christian nation that we have to get back to.
18:35
No African American wants to get back to when we were supposedly a “Christian nation.”
18:40
So I think this appeal–and again, you see it in the history.
18:44
Whenever there is some kind of significant cultural change, whether it be religion, race;
18:51
I mean, I’m half Italian.
18:53
When my Italian family came over, they were of a “different race.”
18:58
They were southern Europeans.
19:00
They weren’t WASPs.
19:01
So this same kind of racial rhetoric, as well as the anti-catholic rhetoric.
19:07
Whenever there’s a cultural demographic change in society, largely through immigration, or
19:14
some kind of slave rebellion where the slaves are threatening to overthrow the racial hierarchy
19:19
of the South, sadly, evangelicals are always at the front of that resistance.
19:28
Mostly white, middle class evangelicals.
19:30
I think that’s what you’re seeing again now.
19:32
Our culture is changing.
19:34
We’re becoming less white, we’re becoming more religiously diverse.
19:38
I think the 1965 Immigration Act which allowed non-Western men and women into this country.
19:45
They brought their religions with them, they brought their culture with them.
19:50
And I think Donald Trump stepped in and said, in a very conservative, populist way–which
19:55
we’ve seen throughout American history, maybe most recently Pat Buchanan, but there were
19:59
others in the 20th Century–and said, “We are going to make you happy again.
20:07
We’re gonna give you the kind of world that you once knew as a kid.
20:11
We’re gonna make America great again.”
20:14
And I think that is very much tied into these racial, cultural, ethnic changes.
20:20
For a long time, evangelicals have been, if not leading, very much at the forefront of
20:28
racism in America.
20:31
I would argue historically–really more as an evangelical, I would argue–it’s a failure
20:40
of their, it’s a failure of faith.
20:44
I think evangelicals have these resources, all Christians have these resources: the dignity
20:49
of all human beings.
20:53
I think it’s most important, but also evangelicalism specifically…
21:00
I remember hearing Mark Galli, the editor of Christianity Today, talking about all these
21:06
Christian scholars that appeal to the Imago Dei which is we’ve been created in the image
21:11
of God, and thus everybody has dignity, everybody has worth: racism is not an option as a result
21:19
of that, if everybody has dignity.
21:21
And there were people in the 17th, 18th, 19th, and 20th Centuries who were making these arguments,
21:27
so it’s not as if I’m sort of taking my 21st Century view on this and superimposing it
21:33
on the past.
21:34
There are others who were more consistent on this.
21:36
But Galli said for evangelicals, it even goes deeper than just the Imago Dei, or it’s more
21:42
thorough than that, in the sense that, if we believe Jesus died on the cross for our
21:49
sins, redemption, all human beings are worthy of redemption in God’s eyes regardless of
21:56
gender, race, class, and so forth.
21:59
So it moves even beyond just the creation to the redemption.
22:04
So I think evangelicals have an amazing set of resources in their faith to be able to
22:10
overcome these racial problems and, for a variety of reasons, they’ve failed to do it
22:18
because I think they’re overcome by fear in many ways.
22:23
They’re overcome by–and this deeply rooted idea that somehow we are an exceptional nation,
22:30
God has blessed us above other nations, that we are a new Israel.
22:35
In some ways evangelicals still believe they’re in this kind of contractual relationship with
22:41
God–Americans are–Evangelicals believe if we don’t keep a pure Christian nation we’re
22:50
gonna lose God’s favor in some ways.
22:56
So I think all of those really bad historical assumptions and theological assumptions–fear,
23:06
I don’t think–I love the Marilyn Robinson quote: “fear is not a Christian habit of mind.”
23:12
So there’s these kinds of psychological, theological errors, historical errors that get in the
23:22
way of us living out our faith with a sense of hope, with a sense of equality, with a
23:29
sense of what Martin Luther King called the “beloved community.”
23:34
I think there’s gonna be a lot of people, and there have been a lot of people who after
23:37
the election of Donald Trump–you know, I was close to this as well; I would even argue
23:41
at one point that I was there maybe for a few days.
23:44
I tended to work out my, what’s the word, angst or whatever about this kind of publicly,
23:51
so, if you follow the paper trail: two days after the election I’m saying, “Here’s what I’m still
23:59
thankful for!”
24:00
So, I’m still–I just gave a talk last week to the board of trustees of a Christian college,
24:07
and they gave me the assignment.
24:09
The assignment was this: What positive role has evangelicalism played in American history?
24:19
You know, that’s a tough question for a historian.
24:23
Especially after the previous question I answered about the dark side of evangelicalism.
24:29
That’s a tough question because we don’t tend to speak in moral categories, “It’s good” or
24:34
“bad;” no, this is what happened, and you guys parse it out.
24:38
But, I respect the people who have decided to leave evangelicalism.
24:43
A lot of my friends have, and people who–or at least, rejected the label, let’s put it
24:48
that way–some of my unofficial mentors have said it’s not useful anymore; let’s use the
24:57
term “evangelical” or “evangelicalism” to describe a historical movement, phenomenon,
25:04
but it’s become so politicized.
25:06
So you also have the examples of Princeton’s Evangelical Fellowship, their student group;
25:14
they took “Evangelical” out of their name.
25:17
You see a lot of big megachurches–and I think this happened before Trump, but they’re removing
25:22
the term “evangelical” because it has such political connotations.
25:27
I respect that; for me . . . and it’s really through a lot of discussions with my editor David Bratt
25:35
on this; he convinced me that I’m actually in the process of defending the term in this
25:42
book.
25:43
I’m not willing to let it go to the politician, to the court evangelicals, or the 81%.
25:54
I think there’s something about “evangelical,” the word, the good news, the gospel, the authority
26:01
of the Scriptures, the cross, that’s worth defending, and worth saving from the way it’s
26:11
been so politicized.
26:13
So I think when you read this book, I think you’ll still see me kind of struggling with
26:17
this a little bit because I’ve always been a very uneasy evangelical since I converted,
26:24
I would say “got saved” at age 16.
26:28
I’ve always been uneasy because I was formed in another religious tradition that also had
26:32
a profound effect on my moral formation and upbringing.
26:36
But,
26:39
while I remain uneasy with evangelicalism, I’m not willing to go all the way and say
26:48
I’m not going to identify with that term.
26:50
I think, I often find myself, since the election–as much as I’m a critic of what the 81% did by
27:00
voting for Trump, I get, the hairs on my arm raise, too, when I hear secular liberals
27:10
trashing evangelicals.
27:13
I want to say, “No!”
27:15
I get angry, too, at the kind of assault on evangelicals.
27:19
A perfect example of this is after the death of Billy Graham.
27:24
My natural instinct was to say this man lived a–he had flaws, we all have flaws; he could
27:31
have maybe done more in certain areas, but this man lived an honorable, God-fearing life as
27:37
I understood it.
27:38
Again, he had his slip-ups.
27:39
I actually write about some of his slip-ups in the book.
27:43
But I just thought the sort of secular liberal–whatever you want to call it–the anti-evangelical
27:50
assault on Billy Graham in some popular pieces was just way over the top.
27:56
And they were making criticisms that no right-minded historian would make.
28:02
Talk about the right and wrong sides of history and Graham was on the wrong side, and these
28:07
were people, a lot of them actually were former evangelicals with axes to grind, I’ll say
28:13
that publicly I think, you know who you are!
28:18
But, what fascinates me is someone needs to do a study of how the election of Donald Trump
28:30
influenced obituaries and other popular op-eds and stuff of Billy Graham.
28:38
Because some people are just connecting Graham to the court evangelicals and there’s some
28:41
truth to that, but the venom in a lot of pieces on Graham really got under my skin and that’s
28:52
maybe saying more about me than them, I don’t know, but that’s an example of where I will. . .
29:00
people are going to think I’m enemy number one after, public enemy number one after they read this
29:05
book, but I just want to affirm that I remain an evangelical.
29:10
I still believe in those things that evangelicals believe in and I’m always going to be a critic, too.
29:21
Insider/outsider kind of thing.
29:24
For those who left evangelicalism, or at least don’t want to associate with the term, I respect
29:28
that; I’m not going to try to write another book to win you back, and I think that’s a
29:35
fair position to take.
29:37
I’m just not going to take, I’m not one to take that position.

‘Little Fresh Meat’ and the Changing Face of Masculinity in China

The embrace of a more fluid form of masculinity shows that many Chinese are frustrated with the traditional ideas pushed by the establishment.

Mr. Cai belongs to the tribe of “little fresh meat,” a nickname, coined by fans, for young, delicate-featured, makeup-clad male entertainers. These well-groomed celebrities star in blockbuster movies, and advertise for cosmetic brands and top music charts. Their rise has been one of the biggest cultural trends of the past decade. Their image — antithetical to the patriarchal and stoic qualities traditionally associated with Chinese men — is changing the face of masculinity in China.

Innocent as they may seem, the little fresh meat have powerful critics. The state news agency Xinhua denounces what it calls “niangpao,” or “sissy pants,” culture as “pathological” and said in an editorial last September that its popularity is eroding social order. The Beijing newspaper’s decision to include Mr. Cai in its profiles apparently prompted the Communist Youth League to release its own list of young icons: patriotic athletes and scientists, whom it called the “true embodiment” of the spirit of Communist youth.

The government attacks on this evolving idea of masculinity have triggered a strong counter-backlash from fans of the celebrities. And in online essays and posts, defenders of the young men make clear that their preference is more than a youthful countercultural fad. At its heart, the embrace of a more modern, less rigid form of masculinity represents frustration with traditional ideas of manhood.

“The ridiculous condemnation of ‘sissy pants’ men shows the gender ideology of a patriarchal society that equates toughness with men and fragility with women,” a journalist who goes by the name Wusi wrote in an online essay in September, voicing a widely shared opinion.

The official push of traditional masculinity — including reinvented school curriculums and the sponsorship of boys-only clubs — is motivated in part by worries that the decades-long one-child policy produced a generation of timid and self-centered male youth ill equipped to fulfill their social responsibilities.

And in the context of China’s increasing power, the establishment’s preoccupation with promoting old-fashioned, Hollywood-style manliness also has a political message. Just as patriotic intellectuals a century ago argued that national strength derives from the virile energy of the youth, present-day Chinese nationalists see their ambitions take the shape of a macho willingness to fight for righteous causes.

This vision is on display in the 2017 action thriller “Wolf Warrior 2.” The movie, featuring a former People’s Liberation Army soldier caught in an African civil war, showed him putting the lives of local civilians above his own while single-handedly beating American-led mercenaries. The goal of the story, said Wu Jing, its director and lead actor, in media interviews, is to “inspire men to be real men.” The movie went on to become China’s top-grossing film in history.

There is little question about who in real life is meant to best personify the masculine chauvinism characterizing the official line today: Take a stroll down a city street or switch on the television at news hour — and you are greeted by the face of President Xi Jinping with a perennial look of self-assurance and determination.

Why Trump Reigns as King Cyrus

by Katherine Stewart  @kathsstewart

The month before the 2018 midterms, a thousand theaters screened “The Trump Prophecy,” a film that tells the story of Mark Taylor, a former firefighter who claims that God told him in 2011 that Donald Trump would be elected president.

At a critical moment in the film, just after the actor representing Mr. Taylor collapses in the flashing light of an epiphany, he picks up a Bible and turns to the 45th chapter of the book of Isaiah, which describes the anointment of King Cyrus by God. In the next scene, we hear Mr. Trump being interviewed on “The 700 Club,” a popular Christian television show.

As Lance Wallnau, an evangelical author and speaker who appears in the film, once said, “I believe the 45th president is meant to be an Isaiah 45 Cyrus,” who will “restore the crumbling walls that separate us from cultural collapse.”

Cyrus, in case you’ve forgotten, was born in the sixth century B.C.E. and became the first emperor of Persia. Isaiah 45 celebrates Cyrus for freeing a population of Jews who were held captive in Babylon. Cyrus is the model for a nonbeliever appointed by God as a vessel for the purposes of the faithful.

The identification of the 45th president with an ancient Middle Eastern potentate isn’t a fringe thing. “The Trump Prophecy” was produced with the help of professors and students at Liberty University, whose president, Jerry Falwell Jr., has been instrumental in rallying evangelical support for Mr. Trump. Jeanine Pirro of Fox News has picked up on the meme, as has Ron Dermer, the Israeli ambassador to the United States, among many others.

As the Trump presidency falls under siege on multiple fronts, it has become increasingly clear that the so-called values voters will be among the last to leave the citadel. A lot of attention has been paid to the supposed paradox of evangelicals backing such an imperfect man, but the real problem is that our idea of Christian nationalism hasn’t caught up with the reality. We still buy the line that the hard core of the Christian right is just an interest group working to protect its values. But what we don’t get is that Mr. Trump’s supposedly anti-Christian attributes and anti-democratic attributes are a vital part of his attraction.

Today’s Christian nationalists talk a good game about respecting the Constitution and America’s founders, but at bottom they sound as if they prefer autocrats to democrats. In fact, what they really want is a king. “It is God that raises up a king,” according to Paula White, a prosperity gospel preacher who has advised Mr. Trump.

Ralph Drollinger, who has led weekly Bible study groups in the White House attended by Vice President Mike Pence and many other cabinet members, likes the word “king” so much that he frequently turns it into a verb. “Get ready to king in our future lives,” he tells his followers. “Christian believers will — soon, I hope — become the consummate, perfect governing authorities!”

The great thing about kings like Cyrus, as far as today’s Christian nationalists are concerned, is that they don’t have to follow rules. They are the law. This makes them ideal leaders in paranoid times.

This isn’t the religious right we thought we knew. The Christian nationalist movement today is authoritarian, paranoid and patriarchal at its core.

  • They aren’t fighting a culture war.
  • They’re making a direct attack on democracy itself.

They want it all. And in Mr. Trump, they have found a man who does not merely serve their cause, but also satisfies their craving for a certain kind of political leadership.

The Patriarchy Will Always Have Its Revenge

I want to burn the frat house of America to the ground.

.. I was riveted by the hearings, and Professor Hill’s testimony about how her old boss, the Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas, behaved — the references to pornographic movies, to his own sexual prowess, the way he would ask her out, again and again, and not take no for an answer.
.. It’s one thing to say #MeToo, but if I find out it’s them, too, I can picture myself hunting down the man who hurt them and dismembering him with my fingernails and burning the whole world down.
.. When Clarence Thomas won his seat, I felt like someone had taken an eraser to the core of my being, and had rubbed a bit of me away. I felt diminished, a little less real, and, certainly, a lot less likely to be believed if I had anything to say about male colleagues.
.. Bill Cosby was found guilty. Harvey Weinstein is going to trial. Les Moonves lost his job as chief executive of CBS, even if a CBS board member, Arnold Kopelson, said, “I don’t care if 30 more women come forward and allege this kind of stuff.”
.. One by one, like bad dreams, the #MeToo men have come back from the allegations against them, having suffered — if that’s even the right word — the equivalent of a misbehaving child’s timeout.

.. Matt Lauer is swanning around Upper East Side steakhouses, reportedly assuring fans that soon he’ll be “back on TV.” Louis C.K. returned to the stage. John Hockenberry is telling his story in Harper’s Magazine, and Jian Ghomeshi is telling his in The New York Review of Books.

.. Women aren’t supposed to want revenge any more than we’re supposed to be angry. It’s not socially approved, not attractive, not ladylike. We swallow our pain and keep our own behavior exemplary while excusing the bad behavior of others, knowing, from examples like Professor Hill’s, what could happen if we speak up, and what we stand to lose.

.. There are famous novels, canonical plays, entire genres of movies centered around men seeking revenge (the “Iliad,” “Hamlet,” every western ever). There aren’t many stories about men righting their wrongs; even fewer about women making men sorry.

 

 

What Men Say About #MeToo in Therapy

“I have something I need to talk about and I’m afraid you’re going to judge me,” he said. He told me that he had been thinking about women he had slept with and that he felt terrible about some of the encounters.

“I didn’t rape anyone or anything like that, but I think I made them pretty uncomfortable.”

I’m a psychotherapist who works largely with men in New York City. Before last fall, I can’t remember hearing a statement like that — a voluntary admission of coercive or manipulative behavior with women. The #MeToo era has changed my work. If therapy has a reputation for navel gazing, this powerful moment has joined men in the room, forcing them to engage with topics that they would have earlier avoided.

.. But I am also heartened by the private work that men are doing in therapy and how it can help us understand the relationship between what has been called “toxic masculinity” and the reservoirs of shame that fuel these behaviors.

.. I began to feel the effect in my work not long after the stories about Harvey Weinstein broke, with a noticeable uptick after a report on the comedian Aziz Ansari. Though the accusations against famous men were in one sense far from the people I saw, they were relevant to the questions they often brought to therapy. Why did they so misunderstand the women in their lives? Why were they often being accused of hurting them?

.. He’d been experimenting with approaching women in a more “dominant” and assertive way, since he’d heard that’s what women wanted. He had made an aggressive move on a prospective date and was told that his approach was creepy.

.. he had been so focused on performing for dates that he wasn’t really connecting to them, unable to accurately read his date’s reactions.

.. appear either flat and emotionless or superficially engaged but hiding behind impenetrable niceness.

.. Most men have spent little time with their feelings and have very limited vocabulary to describe what is going on in their hearts.

.. has done such a good job of disconnecting from his feelings that he can’t ever really tell if he’s had a good time on a date.

.. Almost always, the men I work with notice a tight tension in their chests and stomachs — anxiety. They often admit that they feel this tension most of the time.

.. underneath the anxiety that is always humming along are layers of shame. Shame at having feelings at all, shame because they believe that there is something fundamentally wrong with them, shame that they are not men, they are just boys.

.. Shame is the emotional weapon that allows patriarchal behaviors to flourish. The fear of being emasculated leads men to rationalize awful behavior. This kind of toxic shame is in direct contradiction with the healthy shame that we all need to feel in order to acknowledge mistakes and take responsibility.

.. still a 15-year-old boy craving the approval of his peers: “I actually don’t even like the sex that much, but there’s something satisfying about adding a notch in the belt. I imagine other guys would be impressed if they knew.”

.. In their efforts to manage the feeling of shame, some men numb themselves. Others sink under it and slip into depression or chronic underachievement. And others take the pain that they feel and project it back out into the world with violent words and deeds.

.. They begin to heal when we can both embrace them and hold them accountable.

.. “I want you to know that I respect the courage it takes to acknowledge something like that and to share it with me, but I also don’t want you to numb yourself out, because then you’ll just forget about this and move on,” I said.

.. He began to cry and then sob. Waves of sadness emerged as he imagined the hurt that he caused these women. As the tears subsided and we began to process it, more tears came, this time tears of relief — that he’s not a monster, that he’s capable of remorse and empathy.

.. He had been desperate to boost his self-esteem through sexual conquests. He ultimately put his own pleasure before someone else’s discomfort, behavior that was forged in moments in which he had felt worthless

.. He had been thinking about one of the women he had told me about. He reached out, they met for coffee and he apologized.