Beginning before the election and continuing even now, we have been told that a primary reason for Trump’s support is fear. And fear, we were told, is never an acceptable reason to do anything. Everybody knows, people making this claim imply, that all fears are unfounded. They are merely the result of propaganda designed to provoke an emotional reaction that will lead to unreasoning enthusiasm for Trump and his platform.
This argument has been made most publicly by secular progressives. I heard it privately from many “progressive” Evangelicals or Christians of the NeverTrump variety. James K.A. Smith made a similar argument in a nauseating editorial in the Washington Post last week. The Christian twist on the argument includes the implication that their co-religionists who voted Trump did so from fear and therefore betrayed their faith by caving into cowardice.
Both versions of this argument lack two important bits. First, they lack any means of identifying how those talking about others’ “fear” are able so easily to read their opponents’ minds, and, more importantly, they lack any argument to show that “fear” in and of itself is always unwarranted or unreasoning.
Most leftist arguments now require their hearers to accept that leftists have a unique ability to know the hearts and minds of their opponents. Often, we are asked to believe leftists know the motivations and desires of conservatives better than conservatives themselves do. Leftist arguments like these make a lot more sense when you understand that leftists believe that by virtue of being on the left they have acquired both moral perfection and omniscience.
The illusion on leftist omniscience is sustained, in part, by their never being asked to define their terms. Richard M. Weaver noted that every culture has its “ultimate terms”, terms that are poorly defined but that pack an inordinate persuasive punch. The left excels at the use of these vague but powerful words. That is why their arguments all depend on their hearers never asking certain key question like, “What exactly constitutes hate?”, “What exactly is bigotry?”, “Who says there’s a war on women?” on and on.
The left, whether secular or religious, also doesn’t want anyone reflecting too much on their claims of Trump supporters’ fearfulness. Let’s do it anyway.
Some Trump supporters are frightened by our possible future. They have good reason to be. America’s in shambles. The left has routinely attacks the traditional moral underpinnings of society and, when their weakening of our moral restraints unleashes all sorts of monsters, they blame us for finding the monsters frightening. What sane man doesn’t fear seeing his wife, girlfriend, or daughter destroy his child or grandchild against his will through abortion on demand? What sane man does not fear being unjustly deprived of his children by a left-leaning family court? What sane parents don’t fear sending their children of into the moral cesspools most universities have become?
That’s only the beginning.
Reasonable people fear having their hometowns transformed and their livelihoods weakened by illegal immigration. Reasonable people fear allowing foreigners, some of whom we know wish us ill, to stream across our borders. Reasonable people fear the flood of pornography that pours unfettered into their homes, schools and into their children’s pockets. Reasonable people fear the negative impact a lifestyle devoted to nothing more than the relentless pursuit of consumer goods has on the environment, their families and their souls.
This is what reasonable people do: they fear things that are frightening. Some measure of fear is necessary for prudence. Prudence recognizes the reality of danger, of undesirable outcomes and makes realistic plans for avoiding them. The left castigates its opponents’ “fear” because the left does not value prudence. One difference between the left and the rest of us is that we, unlike they, are able to see how frequently their policies lead directly to the negative outcomes we want to avoid.
This is why reasonable people fear the left in power: because they drive us toward adverse circumstances that, ultimately, threaten the continued existence of our society. Evidence of a collapsing society, which we see all around us even now, fills reasonable people with anxiety.
Of course, the left doesn’t really care about whether non-leftists are frightened. The real reason they make the charge of fearfulness is to shame conservatives into being quiet. Saying you support Trump out of fear is just a subtle way of calling you a coward, something that anyone who openly voted Trump and in doing so, defied the wills of both Miley Cyrus and Russell Moore and the powerful cultural pressure mechanisms they represent, definitely is not.
When those on the left say people who support Trump do so out of fear, they want only one thing: for people not to support Trump. The constant assertion that Trump supporters are fearful springs from their own fear of seeing Trump’s agenda meet with any degree of success. In short, their accusations of fearfulness are in fact an index of their own fear. Evidence for this abounds, just look at the daily social media posts from leftists talking about how frightened they are to live in Trump’s America. Their fear, it seems, deserves to be taken seriously. Ours deserves only to be shamed.
There is, in fact, much to be frightened by in the world. Just as the personal fears of the left do not automatically place their policy proposals beyond question, the fears of non-leftists do not make their concerns illegitimate. Don’t listen to anyone who implies as much.
Instead, gird yourself for the future. Things are going to get worse before they get better, if they ever get better. The things we fear now will gather strength as the conflict intensifies. The first few months of the Trump administration have shown as much.
But, we must persevere. So much depends on our doing so. Let us determine that as the frightening possibilities of the near future take on shape and become ever more real and concrete, our bravery to meet them shall do so as well.
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