While there is more balanced reaction to the release of the Nunes memo out there than there was balanced analysis of the SOTU, the reaction is still highly polar. Sober analysis of what we know, don’t know and what it all means is pretty hard to come by. Follow the host’s Twitter feed, and his Andrew McCarthy Interview on TV yesterday, as he is more knowledgeable than most about FISA warrants. This tweet sums it up best:
It could have been much shorter: @FBI/DOJ withheld material facts from FISA Court that, as former Fed Judge wrote me this AM, would lead the Judge to cancel warrant, issue show cause as to why, and which is “highly probative” of govt’s intent to mislead. End of memo. https://t.co/ztGd1STvfe
— Hugh Hewitt (@hughhewitt) February 3, 2018
But as with the SOTU, I am less interested in specifics of the issue than I am in the polarization proper. I analyzed SOTU reaction as clarifying. But, as usual, Peggy Noonan saw more than I did. Her description of the Left/Democrat reaction to the SOTU is extraordinary:
The Democrats in the chamber were slumped, glowery. They had chosen to act out unbroken disdain so as to please the rising left of their party, which was watching and would review their faces. Some of them were poorly lit and seemed not resolute but Draculaic. The women of the party mostly dressed in black, because nothing says moral seriousness like coordinating your outfits.
Here it should be said of the rising left of the Democratic Party that they are numerous, committed, and have all the energy—it’s true. But they operate at a disadvantage they cannot see, and it is that they are loveless. The social justice warriors, the advancers of identity politics and gender politics, the young who’ve just discovered socialism—they run on rage.
But rage is a poor fuel in politics. It produces a heavy, sulfurous exhaust and pollutes the air. It’s also gets few miles per gallon. It has many powers but not the power to persuade, and if anything does them in it will be that.
That metaphoric description of rage and its effects is great stuff. I have pondered it since I first read it Friday morning. I have three observations based on Noonan’s excellent analysis.
Firstly, I would note that there is a difference between anger and rage. Yes, our anger is often just short term rage, but there is such a thing as righteous anger. However, there is no righteous rage. Righteous anger is a reaction to injustice and evil. God gets angry. But as the Apostle Paul reminds us, “Be angry, and yet do not sin.” Rage is when we allow our anger to drive us to sin, to consume us, and as Noonan notes, to make us “loveless.”
Which leads me to my second observation. There is little doubt that anger on the Republican side of the aisle accounts in no small degree for the outcome of the last election. I might even opine that it was a righteous anger. The Nunes memo tells us that the previous administration was likely engaged in activity that might justify such righteous anger – as many have suspected for a long time. That fact notwithstanding, we must endeavor with energy and resolve to not allow our righteous anger to become loveless rage. Should we allow ourselves to devolve into political action as driven by rage as our opposition, even if politically opposed, then the doomsayers that have been proclaiming an end to our democracy might prove correct.
And so my final observation is not actually mine, it belongs to the Apostle James. How do we insure we do not let our anger turn to rage?
This you know, my beloved brethren. But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger; for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God. Therefore, putting aside all filthiness and all that remains of wickedness, in humility receive the word implanted, which is able to save your souls. But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his natural face in a mirror; for once he has looked at himself and gone away, he has immediately forgotten what kind of person he was. But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man will be blessed in what he does.
We must in humility receive the word implanted and then do it. So simple to say, so hard to actually accomplish. “In humility” means that we must rely not on our own understanding but to be guided and empowered by God through the agency of His Holy Spirit. “Receive the word implanted” means that we must spend time with God’s word – reading, studying, memorizing – until it becomes deeply a part of us. Finally, we must execute that which the word instructs us to do. This means discipline and self-control. We must bite our tongue when we are tempted to speak in anger. We must say “no” to ourselves when our passions and desires drive us towards things contrary to the word we have received.
This Sunday morning I pray for justice where our anger sees injustice. But more importantly I pray for the strength, wisdom and courage to never allow our anger to become rage.