The slut-shaming of Donald Trump

By Jonathon Van Maren

So, where to start? Like many other political junkies, I spent much of Saturday evening watching the tabloidization of American politics unfold in real time on Twitter, with the first revelation—that Donald Trump was caught on live mic bragging about making moves on married women and his celebrity entitlement to grab women by the genitals—followed up by a half dozen other completely unsurprising but still nauseating snippets of Trump’s objectification of nearly every female he’s interacted with, his daughter Ivanka included. From the moment the story broke, the slut-shaming of Donald Trump began in earnest.

His defence of his actions—that Bill Clinton abused and raped women and was easily as bad as he is—wasn’t so much a defence of his own behavior as it was an indictment of it. That many Christians found it a compelling argument was more confusing—in principle, because it is the Christian standard of morality and decency that is being thoroughly degraded by everyone in the awful election cycle and thus the hypocrisy of defending one sleazebag by citing a slimier sleazebag is transparent to all, and strategically because the Clinton revelations are nothing new. Bill Clinton waltzed away from his impeachment and his two terms in office with a sky-high approval rating in spite of all of these allegations because no one seemed to care. It’s hard to imagine why people would start caring now.

And that, at the end of the day, is the point. The reason so many Christian leaders are realizing that Donald Trump has no redeeming qualities and thus are attempting to support him based on potentially redeeming policies is that Trump and Clinton are actually products of our thoroughly trashy culture of nonstop Internet pornography, reality television shows, Hollywood smut, rape-celebrating rap, and the hyper-sexualisation of everything. The culture that the Left—which Trump was a prominent part of until just yesterday—has been creating over the past decades has ensured that the scum that was gathering at the bottom is now rising to the top. In the case of this presidential race, the very top.

Andrew Ferguson summed this up magnificently in a column over at the Weekly Standard:

One of the weirder aspects of anti-Trump mania is its sniffy tone. And it’s especially weird coming from card-carrying liberal Democrats. For two generations our culture and its institutions have been living under a liberal ascendency. The country’s elites—the Bigs of the news media and Hollywood and the non-profit world and the arts and the academy—have signed on to a catechism of personal liberation, particularly sexual liberation, and a kind of radical individual autonomy that even lets you choose whether you’re a boy or a girl. We are taught to be “nonjudgmental” in matters of lifestyle and to accept a pristine relativism in metaphysics and morality. In pursuit of perfect liberation we’ve had no-fault divorce, open access to abortion, the celebration of inverted sex, elimination of the blue laws, and wars against censorship that continue long after the censors have cried uncle. Say what you want about this regime, you’d never call it a triumph of puritanism.

Yet puritanical is precisely the tone of the Trump haters on the left. (We Trump haters on the right are another story.) But why? Consider Trump himself. Here’s a man who’s famous for his wide-ranging sex life, his disdain for conventional marriage, his eager embrace of divorce, his public use of profanity, his non-judgmental attitude toward unconventional sexual minorities—a man whose way of life seems unrestrained by religious impulses of any kind—a man who, in short, is a walking summation of our present-day cultural principles. Yet on each of these scores, from his many marriages to his cursing in public, he is vilified by journalists, politicos, TV starlets, right thinkers of every kind. After years of egging on potty-mouthed rappers and scolding religious believers, our cultural guardians suddenly sound like the General Conference of Methodist Bishops circa 1922…

Trump’s rise, boosted by the forty percent of our fellow citizens who see him as a plausible president, is indeed evidence of a serious, system-wide failure. Dumbing down is a good name for it.

The question is, Who did the dumbing down? Our public schools? Our universities? Our entertainment media—television, movies, popular music? The press? Glossy magazines like Vanity Fair?

Surely all of them share in the blame. And all of them, from the schools to movie studios, rest snugly (I almost wrote “smugly”) in the control of liberal Democrats, and have done so for fifty years or more. If we’re getting dumber, we know whom to thank. How odd is their sniffy contempt for Donald Trump, the purest flowering of the culture they’ve created.

Precisely so. This is why Christian leaders supporting Trump’s candidacy look so problematic—because they’re allowing themselves to be flanked by the very cultural leaders that created the swamp Trump emerged from in the first place. The Left are gleefully demanding that Christian leaders hold Trump to the Christian standard. Is there anything more nauseating than watching Hillary Clinton feign outrage over sexual assault? Or watching celebrities post videos decrying Trump’s “degradation of the nation”? Or listening to those who would defend the porn industry to their last breath pronounce judgment on Trump’s trashy comments? That used to be our territory! Condemning the degradation of the feminine, decrying the state of our culture, urging the nation to return to its Judeo-Christian roots.

But it seems that many conservatives have left the moral high ground, followed Trump into the gutter, and looked up to find that Bill Maher and Lena Dunham and Bill Clinton and Samantha Bee were lecturing them on sexual ethics from the ground they’d just abandoned, their own baggage carefully stowed at the coat check in Trump Tower. By nominating a narcissist so vile and so devoid of anything resembling character, the Republican Party can only defend itself by comparing its nominee to a man they once spent a half-decade investigating for sexual misconduct. I can only imagine the chortling going on in the Democratic strategy rooms. Republicans who lambasted Bill Clinton for years are now being forced to eat crow, feathers, beak, claws and all.

In our struggle to find out who, exactly, is responsible for this mess, it might be wise to seek out a mirror. Douglas Wilson summed up the situation quite nicely:

We have met the enemy, and he is us. Donald J. Trump is in big trouble (we think) because he acts like an accurate representative of the nation he is seeking to lead. I have said several times that Trump is a boorish pig, but that fits right in, because he is running for the presidency of what has pretty much become a sty. The…hypocrites [are] that large bundle that we call the American public—simultaneously indignant and titillated. This is what it has come down to. We all pretend to be shocked, shocked, by something that we have allowed to become an acceptable mainstream standard. “I am sick of that reprehensible Trump on the news every night. What’s on HBO?”

I am not talking about the presence of double-standards—those have always been with us. That was the world that Trump tried to evoke when he said that this tape was “locker room banter.” There was a day when boors and pigs snuck off to certain designated places in order to talk the way boors and pigs like to do. That was a time when such hypocrisy was possible. You could go off and talk that way with your friends, and then go home and talk with your mother with that same mouth. But you had to pretend in order to be able to do it. You had to live a double life to do it. You had to keep two sets of books.

But that wall—let us call it the wall of public decency—has long since been battered down. Did we really think we could outlaw decency, and yet somehow still have decency? Did we really think that we could routinely entertain ourselves on the kind of vice-ridden fare that Hollywood churns out, and not have it make us vice-ridden? Did we really believe we could blow a hole in the hull of decent discourse and still have the ship stay on the surface?

This is the point where, once again, C.S. Lewis provides the much needed prophetic voice.

“And all the time—such is the tragi-comedy of our situation—we continue to clamour for those very qualities we are rendering impossible. You can hardly open a periodical without coming across the statement that what our civilization needs is more ‘drive’, or dynamism, or self-sacrifice, or ‘creativity’. In a sort of ghastly simplicity we remove the organ and demand the function. We make men without chests and expect of them virtue and enterprise. We laugh at honour and are shocked to find traitors in our midst. We castrate and bid the geldings be fruitful.”

So Trump bragged about abusing his position as a man of power and influence, and said that he could just “grab them by the p***y” and they would let him get away with it because he was a star. A pretty grimy star, but a star. And the society that has for decades been hell-bent on glorifying just this kind of thing, all together now, puts on its shocked face.

You think I overstate things? A multi-million-dollar hip hop industry revolves around boasting of exactly the same kind of misogynistic bile that Trump brags about—only much filthier than Trump. That explains all the accolades and awards. The porn industry is mainstreamed—every hotel chain sells you porn if you want it, every gas station sells you porn if you want it, your phone delivers porn to your pocket if you want it. And Fifty Shades of Grey was a mega-bestseller, creating the new mommy porn genre, selling million after million at a pretty rapid clip.

Suppose we lined up every last person online who is demanding that Trump step down now, pronto, and then we required anyone to depart from the discussion if they had used porn within the last year, how much of a firestorm would there still be? There was a reason why the Lord said that the one without complicity in the sin under discussion should cast the first stone. “And they all, beginning with the eldest, remembering their own browser history, crept quietly away.”

You cannot create a society where standards of common decency are laughed to scorn, but because you have to have some standards, substitute in the insane, contradictory, and impossible standards of political correctness, and then arbitrarily keep the corruptions from creeping into the lives of all our candidates for the presidency. That is like allowing black mold to grow up all the walls of your house, and then show the first signs of alarm when it threatens to get into the attic. Oh, no, not the attic!

If the standards are not the standards grounded ultimately in the nature and character of God, then the standards are not standards of common decency at all, but rather arbitrary rules made by arrogant and hypocritical relativists—bureaucrats at the Bureau of Weights and Measures who change the length of the yardstick every few days. So it turns out that when we finally get God out of the public square, the end result is not a quiet academic seminar moderated by John Stuart Mill. When we get Christ banished from all public consideration, the end result is not a multi-ethnic and diverse crowd holding hands and singing, imagining there’s no heaven. When we banish the ten standards that God graciously wrote for us in stone, the end result is not a bunch of cheerful people looking out on us from a warm and accepting United Colors of Benetton ad. I hate to break it to you, but that’s not what happens. What happens is…what is happening.

…Why is Trump in our doghouse when Lil Wayne is in our playlists? The answer is that this presidential election is our dumpster fire. Hypocrisy is flammable, and this is what it smells like when burning.

Christians have realized that they lost the culture for some time now. The media, the arts, academia, Hollywood, the music industry—these institutions are dominated by secular progressives dealing in malignant post-modernism, poisonous and perverted sexual fantasies, and the degradation of the American mind. But Christians hadn’t realized that they had lost their party, too, until Trump won Indiana—and they are still grappling with what that means. I was asked by one of my journalist friends whether I knew any Christians in my circles who actually liked Donald Trump, and the answer is no. None of them wanted him to be the Republican nominee. Most were devastated when Ted Cruz dropped out of the race. Cruz was not everyone’s first pick, but he was the final spark of political hope for many Christian voters.

Christian leaders have not so much been duped by the Donald—with a few notable exceptions–as they have had him foisted on them by an electorate that doesn’t actually care about any of the issues Christians care about—and that includes the so-called evangelicals who came out for him during the primaries. A porn-soaked population has picked a white trash billionaire who starred in Playboy movies, and we have come face to face with the fact that the rivers of trash our culture has sent running through every community have successfully whittled real conservatism down to a dismayed minority. The position Christian voters are in, as I wrote several weeks ago, is a genuinely excruciating one. Many are planning to walk into the voting booth, pull the lever for Trump in privacy, and then go home and take several showers. Others are planning to write in a candidate or simply not vote at all. But regardless of which way Christians choose to hack at this Gordian knot, it’s essential that none of them are found defending the predatory behavior of the orange New York liberal currently giftwrapping the presidency for Hillary Clinton.

For example, I’ve seen many conservatives attempting to pass off Donald Trump’s behavior as “not as bad as Bill Clinton’s,” which is as true as it is irrelevant. Bill Clinton is not our standard for sexual behavior, and everyone in American heard Christians say that for almost a decade. Others are saying that Trump joking about “grabbing women by the p***y is “locker room talk” or “just the way guys talk.” That’s garbage. Yes, some guys talk that way, and I’m sure some of those guys end up saying such things in locker rooms. Our porn culture has done a lot to toxify masculinity. But many men do not talk that way, and many men find it absolutely disgusting. That some conservatives feel the need to degrade the entire concept of honorable manhood in defence of an amoral opportunist who even agreed that his own daughter was “a piece of ass” just illustrates the scorched-earth destructiveness of the Trump phenomenon.

I understand how infuriating this situation is. The hypocrisy and gloating of the Left is enough to make any conservative grind their teeth. But hypocrisy on the Left is nothing new, and it’s imperative we not join them in it. They have no standard for sexual morality to begin with, and thus they have nothing to lose when they go from Lena-Dunham-as-convention-speaker to Donald-Trump-is-disgusting in a split second. The sad fact is that a member of the secular progressive celebrity set is the nominee of the Republican Party because primary voters expressed their anger at the elites by choosing a reality show star with an ego the size of his office building, and that man has spent much of his life doing his very best to live like Hugh Hefner. We cannot and should not defend his behavior. Many evangelical leaders are already pointing out that the full-throated support for Donald Trump from many traditional “values voters” is causing young Christians to react in disgust. Others are pointing out that Christian women in droves are responding to support for Donald Trump’s comments with genuine anger, especially as revelations of Trump’s repulsive comments seem unlikely to slow anytime soon. Many conservatives are endorsing Trump because they think they have nothing left to lose. But as we are finding out, we actually have plenty left to lose by endorsing this earth-bound meteor—our dignity, our consistency, our reputation, and our credibility, to name just a few.

A final point: Too many Christians on social media are going after each other with a level of anger and vitriol that reveals the level of desperation at the idea of a Hillary Clinton presidency, but is also tremendously unhelpful. I’m seeing people I know have been friends for years calling each other names and accusing one another of wanting a Hillary presidency or supporting Donald Trump’s jokes about sexual assault, when obviously neither of these things are true. Nobody should be defending Donald Trump’s comments, but everyone should be respectful of the fact that each voter is working with his or her own conscience to figure out how to respond to the dilemma they’ve been presented with. Nobody wants Hillary Clinton to be president, and nobody wants Donald Trump to be president, but yet here we are. Some people are going to vote Donald Trump because Hillary Clinton thinks that it’s moral to stab a baby in the skull at forty weeks gestation, and others are going to abstain because they can’t handle the thought of voting for a man who brags about grabbing women by the genitals. Whichever choice people make, when the dust settles a month from now, we’re going to have to work together and we’re going to need each other even more than ever.

Donald Trump, whatever your opinion of him, is not worth ending a friendship over.

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4 thoughts on “The slut-shaming of Donald Trump

  1. Corneil scholten says:

    Johnathan,
    I watched a video on youtube of a female christian trump supporter speaking on live television about how we shouldnt judge trump on his actions of 11 years ago. She stated that God could use this sinful man for the good of the USA. Her proof of this was that God thousands of years ago used a harlot named Rahab in the bloodline of he Saviour. If God was willing to use SAVE and USE a harlot in the bloodline of Jesus Christ what makes us beleive that He cant use trump or convert trump for that matter. I beleive we should pray for the republican nominee that God may use him for good and give him repentance for what he has said and done in his lifetime. Thanks
    Corneil Scholten

    • Joyce says:

      Well said Corneil. I feel the same way. What he said/done is so wrong. That was 11 years ago. Dont we all have skeletons in our closet from 11 years ago but as we grow in our faith and walk with God we repent of those sins…..we are forgiven. I believe Mr Trump is receiving spiritual help from pastors and with God all things are possible. Rahab is not the only example, look how God used Saul who became Paul. David was not free from sexual sins. The Bible is full of examples of sinners that God used one way or another. Let he who does not sin cast the first stone.

  2. Mario says:

    I’m not from US, but I want to tell a thing about this election.
    It looks like Hillary Clinton managed (don’t know how, but probably she spent a lot of money for that) to get the GOP nominate someone that the American people might hate more than her. And, maybe, Trump even agreed to run as a “sure loser” to favour Clinton.
    But the point is that, no matter how much you (rightfully) despise Trump and Trump’s behavior, one (maybe two) Clinton mandate, after two Obama mandates, would be such a nightmare, with all the implications that it would have wrt Judge nominations, abortion and PP support, State further empowerment and so on, that a Christian in good conscience may simply not abstain from voting Trump.
    I hope nobody will hate me for saying what to me, living outside US, but deeply affected by USA cultural colonization, seems absolutely clear and obvious.
    I will not despise any Christian abstaining from the election. But, in my opinion, they are simply, and quite deeply, wrong.

  3. Mihai says:

    I have a question for the Christians who won’t vote for Trump. Let’s say they don’t vote, Hillary wins, a few years pass and the next election comes along. What will happen then?

    If Trump runs again I’m almost certain he’ll get the same amount of support, because nothing will have changed in the meantime. So what will they do then? Will they abstain from voting again?

    This situation will only keep the democrats in power forever. In life, usually, we need to accept incremental changes. We better ourselves with each iteration. I think it’s self defeating to accept only those changes that will result in perfection. I’m not sure that such change even exists.

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