The Donald's Scarlet X
In her HBO documentary Fall to Grace, Alexandra Pelosi – yes, Nancy’s daughter – revealed, without intending, how the shifting progressive creed had become conflated with “sin.”
The documentary tracks the career of former New Jersey governor Jim McGreevey, the self-dubbed “gay-American” disgraced in a sex and security scandal. In one passing scene, McGreevey enters an Episcopal Church ostensibly more welcoming than the hidebound Catholic Church of his childhood. The message board on the church front reads, “Jesus liberates us from our sin of sexism, homophobia, racism and classism.”
Had the message board been bigger, the good pastor might have had Jesus liberating “us” from xenophobia, Islamophobia, and global warming denial as well. Although there are many other ways the insensitive could go wrong, these stand for the moment as the seven new deadly sins.
Last week, perennial showman and occasional presidential candidate Donald Trump stood accused of one those sins, if not more, for his defiant remarks on illegal immigration. Said The Donald famously about Mexico, “They are sending people that have lots of problems, and they are bringing those problems to us. They are bringing drugs, and bringing crime, and their rapists.”
To be sure, Trump might have phrased his observation more elegantly. That said, there is an element of truth to it that the media and the political class refuse to acknowledge. That refusal has turned America’s southern border into an open wound, one that is slowly infecting the nation writ large. If a presidential candidate cannot point this out, who can?
If our friends on the neo-puritan left had their way, no one could. Outraged by his heresy, they slapped a scarlet X on Trump for xenophobia and used the coercive power of the media to punish him. If he had been nabbed with a stash of kiddie porn, Macy’s, Univision, NBC, and even NASCAR could not have disowned him more quickly.
Although the norm in seventeenth-century New England, the punitive use of civil law to impose morality represents a new and nasty turn for the American left. That turn seems to get nastier by the day. In a burst of good timing, I have a book coming out next month that dissects the phenomenon called Scarlet Letters: The Ever-Increasing Intolerance of the Cult of Liberalism. I am already planning a sequel.
In the last week or so alone, the neo-puritan left has slapped a scarlet R for racism on those three fourths of white Americans who, despite intense media pressure, refuse to see the Confederate flag as a symbol of racism. Hell, they even got the TV Land network to deep-six The Dukes of Hazzard. As Jefferson Davis “Boss” Hogg might have said, “Roscoe, arrest them Duke boys!”
And no, he wasn’t talking about Reade Seligmann, Collin Finnerty, and David Evans. The neo-puritans slapped these three Dukies with a scarlet C for classism and a scarlet R for racism in the grotesque Duke lacrosse case. Even from the cheap seats, you could see that the only crime these guys committed was white privilege. In the press box, they chose not to notice.
Then, last week, our giddy friends on the gay left interrupted their celebrations to slap scarlet Hs on those brave souls who failed to join in. Secure in his standing among the elect, Star Trek vet George Takei led the way, defaming Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas as a “clown in black face.” Being gay and a World War II internee made Takei all but immune from the constraints of lesser mortals.
True, black CNN political commentator Marc Lamont Hill called Takei’s comments “wrong,” but that was about as the harsh as the media criticism would get. Takei lost no friends on the left. No Democratic candidate was asked to denounce him.
Author Shelby Steele coined the phrase “zone of decency” to describe the sacred preserve in which liberals like Takei imagine themselves clustering. To distinguish themselves from lesser mortals, argued Steele, they are quick to “decertify” those who do not embrace the values du jour and to dispatch the condemned to oblivion.
That is where the neo-puritans expect The Donald to go. But when CNN runs headlines like “Suspect in killing of San Francisco woman had been deported five times,” they have to worry that maybe he won’t, that maybe even Californians will start catching on.
Resident Duck Dynasty philosopher Phil Robertson got it right when he described the left’s belief system as “constantly changing and evolving” and eventually “morphing into a dark maze of nonsense.” Robertson had clout enough and gumption enough to stare down his inquisitors when they tried to slap him with his own scarlet H.
Here is hoping Trump will do the same – and maybe, God willing, inspire his fellow candidates to do likewise.