Are (Republican) NeverTrumpers “pro-Hillary,” as some of their critics are now claiming?
It’s true that if the NeverTrumper gets his wish and Donald Trump’s candidacy fails, then the outcome will be a Hillary Clinton presidency. Yet just because the outcome of not voting for Trump is exactly the same as that of actually voting for Hillary Clinton, these may still be two distinct acts, for consequences alone do not an act make.
Abortion, for instance, is regarded by many as an immoral act. No one, however, regards as immoral surgery meant to save the life of a woman with an ectopic pregnancy. The consequence of the one act is exactly that of the other—the death of the unborn child. Yet these are still two distinct acts.
Obviously, it is not the consequence of each act that differentiates them—there is no difference in the consequences. It is, rather, the intentions informing these actions that distinguish them from one another.
An abortionist intends the death of the unborn child. The doctor who removes the fallopian tubes of the woman with an ectopic pregnancy, though he foresees that in so doing he will bring about the death of the child, does not intend any such thing.
That one act is considered wrong by many but the other wrong by virtually no one makes sense in light of the Christian moral doctrine of “double effect.” According to this doctrine, if a person foresees that his action will bring about an otherwise immoral outcome, it may still be permissible for him to perform it as long as he doesn’t intend this outcome.
Now, “intentions,” it’s crucial to recognize, are not subjective psychological processes. If some acts, as most of us seem to think, are right or wrong regardless of context, irrespectively of their outcomes—if some acts are just right or just wrong—then it must be the case that the acts embody as well their own intentionality, their own internal logic.
Abortion is, essentially, by design, the intentional killing of an unborn child. A procedure aimed at saving a mother’s life from an ectopic pregnancy embodies no such intention.
Take another example. Suppose I shoot a gun in a crowded place and strike down innocents. That I may not have been motivated by any desire to harm anyone, that I didn’t mean to harm anyone, doesn’t’ get me off the hook, for the act that I performed is designed, as it were, to jeopardize others. This is what is implied by such common manner of speaking as, “It just so happened that, thankfully, no one got hurt.”
Now, if the NeverTrumper is simply one who refuses to vote for Trump, then—in light of the doctrine of double effect—it doesn’t seem right to say that he is “pro-Hillary,” for the act of refusing to vote for Trump has as its essential aim the prevention of a Trump presidency. Granted, the NeverTrumper foresees that if enough people think as he does, then a Hillary presidency will be inevitable. But he does not intend for Hillary to win. Theoretically, he may object to her just as much, if not more so, than he objects to Trump.
If the NeverTrumper, from an informed conscience, judges that voting for Trump is itself an evil act, then it would indeed be immoral for him to vote for the GOP nominee. And it would remain immoral for him to vote for Trump even if, from that same informed conscience, he believed that voting for Hillary is the greater of the two evils and that only by voting for Trump could he preclude the greater evil of a Hillary presidency.
As the Scriptures say, we must never do evil so that good may come from it.
Still, in point of fact, it is highly doubtful that the NeverTrumper objects to Trump from conscience. Although the typical NeverTrumper would have us think that it is his commitment to “limited government” and/or “Constitutional conservatism” that prevents him from voting for Trump, this is immediately seen for the lie that it is the moment we realize that these same NeverTrumpers have been enthusiastically advancing the interests of just those Republican politicians who for decades have been at least as wedded to Big Government as is Trump.
These NeverTrumpers have enthusiastically been supporting a party that, culturally, socially, economically, and politically, has facilitated America’s movement to the left. They have happily endorsed such faux conservatives as John McCain, Mitt Romney, and George W. Bush—all of whom have, if not always in rhetoric, in effect, advocated on behalf of policies that, from a conservative perspective, are often even more objectionable than some of Trump’s more objectionable stances.
The truth of the matter is that NeverTrumpers will never support him because Trump threatens the status quo. He threatens them professionally and, inasmuch as his foreign policy vision is at odds with the failed neoconservative vision that they’ve peddled all throughout the Bush II years to the present, he threatens them ideologically as well.
The NeverTrumpers actually would prefer Hillary to Trump.
From the juxtaposition of the relentlessness with which they attack Trump and their relative silence on Hillary, it is hard to infer any other conclusion.
It’s no wonder that the Obama administration wants to rewrite the present by excising from the transcripts of Omar Mateen’s exchange with police the former’s Islamic-centered reasons for the massacre in Orlando that was about to occur.
Better instead, as far as the Democrats’ political fortunes are concerned, to assimilate the second deadliest terrorist attack on American soil since 9/11 into narratives about “guns” and “homophobia.”
The left’s agenda is well-served by both lines. Consider, first, the benefits of focusing on guns:
(1) If Orlando is a manifestation of a gun problem, then “gun-control” can be proposed as the “solution.”
(2) If this attack on American soil is ultimately nothing more or less than a problem with guns, then it is America’s problem with guns. In other words, in the final analysis, it would be Americans, particularly those white, Christian, Second Amendment-loving, bitter gun “clingers”—NRA-types, say, and not the son of radical Afghan Islamic immigrants—who must shoulder the lion’s share of the blame for the bloodshed.
(3) In this heated election year, if the Orlando massacre can be made over into a gun problem, then Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and their fellow Democrats can escape being saddled with the burden of having presided over not just a terrorist attack on American soil, but the worst case of Islamic terror in 15 years. Let’s call it “6/12.”
The gay angle is no less empowering to the left:
(1)The Orlando massacre can now be transformed into the classic textbook case of the most virulent “homophobia.”
(2)Since the “homophobe” is American-born and, presumably, a “self-hating” gay man himself, the mass assault against an exclusively gay population can be explained as a function of American-style “homophobia,” i.e. Americans’ horrific mistreatment of gays.
(3)If the problem is American “homophobia,” then the “solution” can be depicted as but more legislation of precisely the sort of which Republicans and Christians have been skeptical.
Thus, it is the Democrats’ enemies—Republicans and traditional Christians—on whose shoulders the blame for 6/12 can now be placed.
(4)If the problem is “homophobia,” then Obama, Clinton, and Democrats can dodge the ignominious distinction of having presided over 6/12—the deadliest Islamic terrorist attack on American soil since 9/11.
But we must call things for what they are, for unless “language is…correct,” as Confucius taught, “morals and art will deteriorate” and “justice” will go “astray [.]”
It isn’t just leftist Democrats who need to be reminded of this. Whenever Republicans and others refer to 6/12 as “the largest ‘mass shooting’” in American history, they lend legitimacy to the left’s spin on things. The same effect is realized when the left’s opponents insist upon focusing on the homosexuality of Mateen’s victims, or when they repeatedly stress the inhumane treatment to which Islamic governments throughout the world subject gays.
First, whether 6/12 really was the largest mass shooting is both morally and metaphysically irrelevant. From the time of Plato and Aristotle through the middle Ages to the Catholic Church in the present, a distinction has been made between the “essence” of things and their “accidents.”
It is of the essence of a knife, for example, to cut. That a knife can be used to pick locks; that it can come in handy as a paper weight; that it is six inches, eight ounces, black, white, manufactured by this company or that—these are accidental features or characteristics of a knife.
The Orlando massacre was a mass murder. That is, it was, essentially, a mass murder. It was, though, only accidentally a mass shooting. Guns happened to have been the means by which the murderer pursued his end—and acts are defined by their ends.
To see that this is so, consider, say, 9/11. The latter was a mass murder, the murder of 3,000 innocent Americans. No one has ever so much as thought to describe 9/11 as a “mass airplane” or “mass box cutter” attack. No one ever tried explaining—explaining away—9/11 in terms of a problem with planes or box cutters.
And this is because—besides the fact that no political program is served by personifying and demonizing planes and box cutters—it’s recognized that these inanimate objects are the mere means by which terrorists chose to wreak the destruction that they did.
They are, though, no more essential to the mass murder of 9/11 than guns were essential to the mass murder of 6/12.
Secondly, while 6/12 was essentially a mass murder, though not a mass shooting, it was a particular type of mass murder. It was terrorism:
(a)The mass murderer was a non-state actor (he was not acting on behalf of any government);
(b)Insofar as he explicitly identified the United States’ government’s intrusions into the Islamic world as his reason for murdering en masse, Mateen disclosed his aim: He wanted to affect changes in government policy;
(c)The mass murderer indiscriminately slaughtered non-combatant civilians in the private sector as the means by which he sought to retaliate against and change American policy.
These are the conditions that must be met for a murderous act to become a terrorist act.
Mateen met them in spades.
Thirdly, this terrorist attack is an Islamic terrorist attack. Yet it isn’t Islamic terror just because Mateen was a Muslim. If he was an anarchist or communist, but happened to have had an Islamic background, 6/12 would not have been an instance of Islamic terror.
That Mateen was an Islamic terrorist, and that 6/12 was an Islamic terrorist attack, is borne out by the following facts:
(a)The terrorist followed jihadi protocol and informed the police that he pledged his allegiance to the Islamic State (ISIS);
(b)The terrorist did indeed pledge his allegiance to the Islamic State (ISIS);
(c)The terrorist shouted praises to Allah as he shed the blood of civilians.
Finally, from what we can gather at the moment, the sexual orientation of this Islamic terrorist’s victims is as irrelevant or non-essential to the act itself as is the sexual orientation of the victims of 9/11 is irrelevant or non-essential to that day of infamy.
In fact, Mateen, besides being a homosexual himself, left behind no evidence indicating that he chose his victims because they were gay. To repeat, all psychologizing aside, there is zero evidence that Mateen had anything against gays per se.
All of the available evidence is clear as to his motives: Mateen committed mass murder in a crowded nightclub—a nightclub with which he was intimately familiar (and a gun-free zone at that)—in response to an American foreign policy that he believed was unjust toward Muslims, his brethren in the faith.
As I write this, Democrat and Republican commentators alike assure us that given the spike in his “unfavorables” that one recent Washington Post poll purports to have tracked, Donald Trump’s odds of winning in November are all but zilch.
The Washington Post is hardly the most trustworthy of sources when it comes to Trump, it’s June, and those who are touting these numbers as iron-clad proof that Trump is finished are either Hillary Clinton boosters or GOP NeverTrumpers.
And the latter have a track record of making predictions regarding Trump’s demise that is anything but stellar.
Way back in May of 2012, after Mitt Romney embraced Trump when the latter endorsed him, George Will couldn’t imagine “what voter is going to vote” for Romney after he had been seen with “this bloviating ignoramus” Trump. It was “obvious,” from Will’s perspective, that Trump was as big a political loser as anyone.
In April of 2015, shortly before Trump threw his hat in the ring, Will said that he “hoped” that Trump would run for the presidency so that he would be “predictably shellacked [.]” As recently as this past March, Will wrote confidently that he thinks “we may have passed peak Trump.”
Five years ago, when Trump toyed with the notion of pitching a bid for the presidency, Fox News guru Charles Krauthammer referred to him as the GOP’s “Al Sharpton,” a “provocateur, and clown, unserious” (for a decidedly different take on the prospect of a 2012 Trump run, see here). Krauthammer contended that Haley Barbour would be most likely to “win” the 2012 primary and general contests.
Immediately after the first GOP primary debate last August, Krauthammer told Megyn Kelly that what audiences saw in the real estate mogul’s performance was “the collapse of Donald Trump.” His rivals, Krauthammer continued, “left him out in the cold.”
In reality, it was Trump who was leaving all 16 of his competitors “out in the cold.” Yet in spite of the historically unprecedented crowdedness of this field, Karl Rove continually told us that Trump had a “high floor and low ceiling” of support. He also predicted that the nominee would be Jeb Bush, Scott Walker, or Marco Rubio. These three candidates constituted the “top tier.” The third tier was comprised of those candidates “who are unlikely to break through.”
As for Trump, Rove dismissed him as a “complete idiot.”
Former movie critic and talk radio host Michael Medved charged Trump with being a narcissist. His presidential campaign is “entirely about one man and his brash personality, and has nothing to do with needed conservative reforms.” Medved drew this conclusion, it’s important to note, from the fact that, in the first GOP debate, Trump “said he couldn’t commit to support the ultimate nominee, and refused to rule out a third party run.”
This refusal, Medved asserts, gives rise to the inescapable question: “If he [Trump] really cares about the conservative principles he now espouses, why wouldn’t he promise to support the Republican nominee?”
Given that he’s a NeverTrumper, Medved stands condemned by the measure by which he gauged Trump’s conservatism, for it is now he who refuses to endorse “the ultimate nominee.”
Redstate editor and Fox News contributor Erik Erikson wrote of Trump one year ago that he and his “advisers…directly did himself a disservice by playing for bombast and not statesman.” Trump, he explained, “will not be a winner,” but “a spoiler.”
Trump “won’t get the nomination,” Erikson maintained.
In August of 2015, Glenn Beck promised that Trump could never win the general election. He also said at one and the same moment that “research” suggests that Trump may have already reached his “ceiling” of support (remember, this is shortly after the first debate when there were still a total of 17 candidates in the race).
In January of 2015, just five months before Trump declared his candidacy, Jonah Goldberg rejected a comparison that had been wrought between Sarah Palin and Trump. Unlike the former, Goldberg explained, Trump “has a long record of clownishly pretending he’s going to run for president [.]” That “people take him seriously,” Goldberg remarked, “drives me crazy,” for Trump is “a bane of humanity.”
Last summer, Goldberg conceded that Trump was “entertaining.” He also assured those who would listen to him that the “GOP’s Trump problem will eventually melt away.” In another article, Goldberg dogmatically declared: “He has no chance of becoming president, but he has the huge potential to deny his alleged party a White House victory in 2016.” Trump, Goldberg told us, will likely “find an excuse to retreat” from the GOP race. But by then the damage would have been done.
Of course, it is now Goldberg and company, in their refusal to back their party’s nominee, who are doing all that they can to deny their “alleged” party a White House victory.
Shortly before the Iowa caucuses, Bill Kristol said that if Trump lost (which he did, by one delegate, to Ted Cruz), then the Trump “mystique disappears” and he becomes “just another candidate [.]” Even at this point in time, Kristol openly entertained the prospect of supporting a third party candidate, though he admitted to being only “semi-serious” about it, for “I don’t think that Trump will be the nominee [.]”
In July of 2015, Rich Lowry was jubilant. He blogged: “Yes, Iowa, We Have a Frontrunner.” For Lowry, this frontrunner’s name was Scott Walker. And Commentary’s Peter Wehner confidently wrote at the same time that Trump’s remarks concerning John McCain’s having been captured in Vietnam marked “the moment it all blew apart for The Donald.” At this critical moment, Wehner told us, Trump’s campaign became “toast.”
The experts, the Trump candidacy has shown, are nothing of the kind. Either they are really that incompetent at making predictions or, which is at least as likely, they were actually trying to determine, rather than forecast, Trump’s demise.
Things haven’t changed. But the NeverTrumpers should exercise caution, for whether they succeed or not in sabotaging Trump’s electoral prospects, the millions who back him may eventually form a “Never” movement of their own—a NeverGOP.
Within hours of the Orlando massacre that occurred early Sunday morning, veteran academic and prolific writer Mary Grabar predicted on her Facebook wall that “liberal pundits” would soon enough be “linking the Orlando shooting [at a gay nightclub] to other instances of homophobia, such as Harvey Milk and the Stonewall riots.”
The Public Broadcasting System (PBS), continued Grabar, would get busy planning a documentary entitled “‘Homophobia in America,’” a film that will show how the Christian origins of homophobia “infected American culture, how ‘migrants’ from places like Afghanistan, alienated and bewildered by an Islamophobic American culture, picked up the homophobia and ‘hate,’” and “how in desperation they turned to violence, taking advantage of lax gun laws….”
Most of this prediction has already come to pass. Few of us will be surprised if it all comes to fruition soon enough.
Dr. Grabar’s point is well taken: “Liberals,” i.e. the left, can always be counted upon to regurgitate their tired stock phrases, clichés that, however logically irrelevant to the issues at hand, have proven to be politically useful.
This time, however, their talking points aren’t just irrelevant. They aren’t just ridiculous.
They are offensive.
A self-sworn Islamic jihadist pledges his allegiance to ISIS and then drives over 100 miles from his home to shoot up a gay nightclub. Immediately prior to killing at least 50 people and critically injuring over 50 more, he screams: “Allah hu Akbar!” The notion that this is an instructive lesson in the need for Americans to support more “gun-control” is offensive.
It is both intellectually and morally offensive.
In fact, it borders on the perverse.
The Islamic State has long been calling for “lone wolf” attacks throughout the West, promising that “we will strike you in your homeland [.]”
“Do not ask for anyone’s advice,” said an ISIS spokesman, “and do not seek anyone’s verdict. Kill the infidel, whether he is civilian or military.”
The Orlando massacre may very well be the biggest “mass shooting” in American history. But to bill it only as such reflects at once an aversion to truth and, doubtless, a desire for political self-aggrandizement. To throw this event under the umbrella heading of “mass shooting” suggests, and is meant to suggest, that the killer, Omar Mateen, has more in common with the likes of Adam Lanza (of Sandy Hook infamy) and the killers of Columbine than he shares with Osama bin Liden and Muhammad Adnani, the ISIS mouthpiece who has been calling forth the Mateens of the West.
Confucius sheds some much needed light here. “If language is not correct,” he taught his disciples, “then what is said is not what is meant [.]” Yet this in turn means that “what must be done remains undone,” and, consequently, “morals and art will deteriorate” and “justice” will go “astray [.]”
This teaching is known as “the Rectification of Names.” If ever there was a violation of it, the ascription of “mass shooting” to the Orlando massacre is it.
What happened in Orlando is a case—but another case—of Islamic terrorism.
More importantly, it is the deadliest such case to have occurred on American soil second only to that of the terrorist attack of September 11, 2001. Even the left-leaning Huffington Post acknowledges that “Islamic terrorism” is a more accurate label for the Orlando massacre when it correctly notes that it is no “coincidence” that this attack occurred during the Islamic holiday of Ramadan.
From the time of Plato and Aristotle through the middle Ages to the Catholic Church in the present, a distinction has always been maintained between two types of characteristics: “essential” and “accidental.” For example, snow, say, is essentially cold. It is only accidentally white (or yellow, or black, etc.). A person is essentially rational, but only accidentally white, black, six feet tall, 250 pounds, and so forth.
The essential attribute of a thing is that which makes it the thing that it is. Take away an object’s essence, you take it away. A thing’s identity is its essence.
This paradigm is not perfect. In light of it, though, we can better grasp the significance of Orlando:
This mass murder is essentially an act of terror, and Omar Mateen is essentially an Islamic terrorist. Moreover, he isn’t just a terrorist who happens to be Islamic. By virtue of his allegiance to ISIS and his affirmation of Allah just seconds before opening fire, he is an Islamic terrorist.
On the other hand, he is accidentally a gunman. This mass murder is accidentally a mass shooting.
What this means is that the means by which Mateen achieved his ends are ultimately neither metaphysically nor morally relevant to the nature of the end itself. The nature of the act is determined by the motive of the actor and the objective of the act itself. Mateen wanted to slay infidels, in this case, gays, for the sake of glorifying his God. That he chose guns to realize this goal no more makes this event a gun matter than the fact that the 19 hijackers of 9/11 chose box cutters and airplanes to slay infidels for the sake of glorifying the same God made that horrific event a teaching moment about the dangers of box cutters and airplanes.
The Orlando massacre was, essentially, the second deadliest terrorist attack in American history.
In this election year, though President Obama, Hillary Clinton, and the Democrats won’t approve, perhaps we should start referring to this act of Islamic terror for what it is.
Maybe we can start calling it “6/12.”