Two stories, seemingly unconnected, have a deep, deep and sad connection.
Cooper’s execrable line of questioning — which embraces exactly the sort of amoral, heinous equivalency I earnestly urged against in my Monday essay — basically demanded that Bondi justify her public revulsion at the slaughter “despite” the fact that she’s opposed same-sex marriage and defended her state’s ban of the practice in court. How could she pledge to prosecute anti-gay violence to the fullest extent of the law when she’d never even promoted gay pride on social media?
The Washington Post’s editorial board has reacted to the revocation of its press credentials by the Trump campaign with another anti-Trump screed. The editorial is a mixture of venom, paranoia, and illogic. It adds up to a smear.
Actually, as I watched the WaPo feed yesterday, they did far more than write a poison-pen editorial. The entire paper turned pretty much into a “get Trump” weapon.
So, what do these stories have in common? Both are about personal perspective overriding the central issue or issues. For Anderson Cooper, the sexual orientation of the victims mattered more than the fact that they were murdered. Murder is awful regardless of who the victim is or victims are. Trump’s move vis-a-vie the Post strikes me as pretty boneheaded, but it also strikes me that the Post’s response is proving Trump’s point for him and their personal affront at having their credentials withdrawn is overriding their ability to conduct any unbiased reporting on the Trump campaign. I truly wonder what America will look like if this is how we are going to conduct ourselves from now on.
I wrote on Monday that many situations that can be utilized in political discussion can be used in a couple of ways. One way is to imprint upon the situation a personal agenda, turning the situation into a wedge in which the speaker attempts to gain on their issue at the expense of their political opponent. The other is to use the event to establish priorities and unite the nation. But of course, the latter approach requires that there be some objective standard against which priorities can be measured.
What we are seeing is a nation unmoored from any sort of objective standard. There is no moral standard so murder and what Cooper considers bigotry are crimes of equal proportion. There are no journalistic standards, so access is what matters, objectivity does not. Standards can only exist where there is a standard bearer – an authority.
History has long since proven that no individual can be that standard bearer. As the cliché says, “Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” That’s the thing about clichés, they may be trite but they are generally full of truth. Thus we have law. The concept of law comes not from man, but from God. The first laws history records have God as the lawgiver. The law of the United States is built on the idea that man is God’s instrument in making law. But it seems we have come full circle, man has divorced from God and now all the trappings of democracy are being used not to establish and maintain objective standards, God’s standards, but in service of the great “I.” (And yes, you are supposed to think about Sauron when you read that sentence)
There are no politics that can save this situation unless those politics are accompanied by a nation that remarries itself to God. Of course, not the murderous God of the Orlando assailant, but the God of love that results in the morality that we encounter in Christian and Jewish thought. The God that urges us to consider the other more important than ourselves. My devotional this morning said this:
The more we take seriously the Bible’s own frame, the more we will understand that this world matters, not just to us, but to God. God is not just in the business of getting human beings to heaven when we die. Rather, God wants the world he created and its inhabitants to flourish as much as possible, though sin makes this more difficult than God had intended.
We need God’s help to flourish, and yet we seem to be turning that help down at a frightening pace. We do so at our own peril – a peril that is most apparent in the news of the day.