Twitter has provided much food for thought this weekend.
After the tax bill was passed in the Senate, in the early dark of Saturday morning, gloomy tweeps came out of the woodwork to startle the sane with apocalyptic pronouncements on the event.
Some of them seemed to have no connection at all to reality.
Is there any going back after this #TaxBillScam? To America? Does it matter now if Trump is impeached? There’s no America now. Not the one we knew. Sorry, feeling real despair this morning
— Patton Oswalt (@pattonoswalt) December 2, 2017
Others merely exposed how far today’s political left has moved from the understanding most of us used to have: that taxing the people is a matter of taking their own money away from them. Whenever the tax rate is lowered, it’s their own money the people are keeping.
Someone alert the authorities: Senate Republicans are looting the Treasury. I’m live now speaking about the Republican tax bill: https://t.co/pcPrFdrc8K
— Bernie Sanders (@SenSanders) December 2, 2017
Then there were the tweets from James Comey, and the FBI Booster movement.
On Friday, Comey tweeted a Bible verse from the prophet Amos.
“But justice roll down like waters and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream” Amos 5:24 https://t.co/o89PSY1YBd
— James Comey (@Comey) December 1, 2017
This seemed to represent his take on the plea entered by Michael Flynn to a count of making false statements to the FBI. Perhaps it was also an allusion to what Comey imagines is about to befall Donald Trump.
On the other hand, maybe Comey was just thinking about the passage often used by Martin Luther King, Jr. in his speeches, and inscribed on his memorial in Washington, D.C. and the Civil Rights Memorial in Montgomery, Alabama.
I would caution Brother James on a matter like this: to be careful how I wielded the word of God in political drive-bys. It would be a whole other post to go into that, so I’ll just leave it there.
Shortly afterward, when Trump tweeted a disparaging comment about the conduct of the FBI, Comey came out with strong assertions about the Bureau’s integrity.
“I want the American people to know this truth: The FBI is honest. The FBI is strong. And the FBI is, and always will be, independent.”
Me (June 8, 2017) pic.twitter.com/OZ1ZiBrMNL
— James Comey (@Comey) December 3, 2017
Eric Holder, former Attorney General, did the same.
Nope. Not letting this go. The FBI’s reputation is not in “tatters”. It’s composed of the same dedicated men and women who have always worked there and who do a great, apolitical job. You’ll find integrity and honesty at FBI headquarters and not at 1600 Penn Ave right now
— Eric Holder (@EricHolder) December 3, 2017
Here is what many, many Americans now see about moments like this. They see that if there are other things that need to come out about the FBI – things that directly contradict these assurances – that is going to happen, and almost immediately.
I don’t know what there may be to come out. We’ve had glimpses of very questionable things recently: not things that would impugn the worker-level agents and analysts of the FBI, but things that don’t look right about some of the leadership.
The pattern of the last couple of years – this started before Trump was even elected, much less took office – has been that the more assurances there are of all being well, and everything being in order, the sooner we find out that it’s not just out of order but horrifying.
Maybe there’s nothing bad to discover. But at this point, no one sensible would bet money on that.
Everything in the edifice of our self-consciously modern, or post-modern, culture has been falling. Our blogging colleague Allahpundit at Hot Air had a tweet of his own on Sunday:
Just a reminder that our culture is dominated by degenerates https://t.co/qnb62lUa4P
— Allahpundit (@allahpundit) December 3, 2017
And there you go. The thing is, that has been evident for a long time now, to some among us. What I’m not sure is seen clearly yet, by the people just waking up to it, is that we can’t go back. There is nothing to go “back” to.
We’ve been living an unsustainable “old consensus” for so long – paying off our unsightly problems to remain out of sight – that the core of integrity that we imagined we were carrying with us is no longer there. Not as a cultural matter, anyway. It survives in individuals, and in some of our forms of connection that are sheltered from the culture. But our culture cannot claim it today.
The unspoken premise of the Never-Trumpers has been that there is an organized cultural structure of some kind to be salvaged and restored, and that its touchstones are all the formulaic politenesses and conventions that Trump is forever violating.
But there isn’t such a structure. It’s gone. It was gone before Obama left office. It isn’t specifically “his fault” that it’s gone, any more than it’s “Bush’s fault.” The crumbling of the edifice started decades ago, quite frankly when we decided to worship government and not God.
There are only the politenesses and the conventions left now, and they are weak reeds without the true structure to hold them up. What they do instead is paper over — even offer excuses and alibis for — the rot and ruin that is our “culture.”
This is not to say that the structure the Never-Trumpers long to “get back” is an impossibility now. But it is to say that it has to be rebuilt.
How to rebuild it is also a topic for another post. I am actually confident that if the Americans who do see will stay the course, America will not go the way of other fallen giants. The dark tower that has loomed over us is falling while we still have a sensible, shoulder-to-the-wheel middle class, made up of people who have not been corrupted out of their ideals, better instincts, and actual virtue. Attribute that to divine Providence or not, according to your lights; I do attribute it thus.
For the near future, however, what we are witnessing is the fall. One media outlet after another exposes itself as so partisan that it will consciously flog false narratives over truth. One public figure after another is exposed for hypocrisy and secret vice. The whole apparatus of our culture is balanced by incoherent nuttiness on one end and mind-bending corruption on the other.
This is not the fault of our political opponents, in the way some people want to think of these things, so that they can see their way to a “solution.” We must resist the temptation to find scapegoats and people to pillory.
Don’t be whipped into a righteous frenzy; it’s too easy to manufacture allegations and “evidence,” and start falling on each other like wild animals, without due process or compunction. Sadly, the media can too often be found trying to frame a frenzy as what the popular kids are doing, or as the way to signal virtue. Just say no. If we have learned anything by now, it should be that signaling virtue is the emptiest exercise there is.
Meanwhile, don’t lose sight of the light beyond the smoke and rubble. We have been living in the shadow of Mordor for a long time now. It’s familiar landscape to us, and it is falling before our eyes. It can be hard to register what is happening. Let it happen. We don’t need Mordor back.
What comes next will become clearer to you if you decide within your heart who you say God is. He is not a God of darkness and despair, or solely of judgment and wrath. He is setting before us this day life, and death. Choose life.