Democrats’ Contempt Belittles and Dehumanizes Us All — Democrats Included
Contempt. That’s the best word I know for the display Democrats put on at the State of the Union address last week. And it’s just about the most worrisome thing I could think of for the future of our country.
It’s no news that liberals hold Donald Trump in contempt. In their eyes, he’s nothing but a racist, sexist, philandering demagogue. This makes it impossible for them to give him even the slightest honor.
When he says African American unemployment is at record lows, they can’t applaud such great news because they would be applauding a racist. When he proposes immigration policies virtually identical to proposals once made by Barack Obama and Bill Clinton, they’re compelled to criticize. Agreeing with Trump would be agreeing with a demagogue. When Trump called for respect for the National Anthem and our flag, they frowned in their seats, revealing that their contempt for the man outweighed their love for their country.
Contempt for the Country
But it isn’t just contempt toward Trump. It’s contempt for the constitutional process that brought him to the White House. It’s contempt for the people who voted for him. And for those two reasons, it’s contempt toward America itself.
Democrats love to say the “story of America” is the story of immigrants welcomed to our shores, of Americans greeting strangers with a warm smile, and of neighbors helping neighbors. This is all true, but it’s not all that is true. Our story is also one of peaceful, orderly transitions of power. Obama’s lip service on that meant nothing: When protests turned violent, neither he, Hillary Clinton nor any other Democratic leader did a thing to promote peace.
America’s story is also about being under the rule of law rather than of men. By their contempt for the president, Democrats show they care more for who holds power than whether he attained it by constitutional means.
Contempt is always belittling. Obama famously said of conservatives, “They get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.” That was belittling.
And it’s not a fair claim. I don’t hold on to Christianity to “explain [my] frustrations.” I have questions that would be a lot less frustrating if I just let it all go. No, I hold on to Christianity by way of long and thoughtful study, by facing objections against it, by sparring with my own very real doubts and questions. And I conclude that whatever else might be said, I must follow Christ because His message is true and He is good.
I’m not anti-immigrant, either. I’m completely in favor of the thoughtful approach by which (for example) my mother’s parents entered this country. I know I’m a child of immigrants. Immigration isn’t the problem; thoughtlessly conducted immigration is the problem. Illegal immigration is one version of that, by the way.
So I will not let myself be belittled by remarks like Obama’s — but that isn’t because he and others with him haven’t tried.
Others on the left are only too happy to echo the same stereotype. They’ll say that Trump’s election is pretty much all about racism, fear of immigrants, fear of anything foreign. They pay no attention to the host of other things his voters also on their minds back in November 2016. Maybe it’s simpler for them to pack them all into a simple category of small people. Maybe it’s more comfortable for them. I don’t know, and I won’t draw stereotyped conclusions about people on the left, even if they’re willing to do it about us on the right. But I wonder.
And I will say, with no fear of stereotyping, that Democrats in Congress on Tuesday night showed complete solidarity in contempt for Donald Trump, his voters and the entire country.
Contempt is always belittling, as I’ve already said, and it’s a very short step from belittling to dehumanizing. This is what worries me most about it. Those who see their opponents as small people may soon see them as hardly people at all. The world witnessed the worst of what dehumanization could do when Hitler killed Jews in a virtual factory process, and even processed some of their remains as raw material for manufacturing. This, I believe, is why he’s reviled more than either Stalin or Mao, who killed many more people yet were less guilty of stripping them of their very humanity in the process.
That’s dehumanization at its worst. I’m not saying liberals or progressives are anywhere within a continent’s distance of being there. But the train they’re driving is set on tracks aiming in that direction. It’s the wrong way to be going.
To Climb Out of the Pits
It’s ironic, and sad, too, how this kind of thing can turn around and bite the ones who are doing it. “They dig a deep pit to trap others, then fall into it themselves,” says Psalm 7:15 (NLT). By gluing themselves to their seats last Tuesday night, seeking to belittle Trump and all the good he had to share, Democrats made themselves look small.
Many people have offered many cures for what ails our country. I’m fully on board with Michael Brown’s answer: We ought to seek to live with more love toward one another. That’s a high calling, though. Maybe we could take one small step in that direction by simply seeing that we’re all humans here. We’re all in this mess together. Maybe just by refusing to belittle one another, to dehumanize each other, to hold one another in contempt, we can see the mess start improving again.
Tom Gilson is a senior editor with The Stream and the author of A Christian Mind: Thoughts on Life and Truth in Jesus Christ. Follow him on Twitter: @TomGilsonAuthor.