One can only wonder at the statement of prominent Rhode Island atheist Steve Ahlquist that the student walkout in Providence today “was by far one of the most moving and beautiful protests I have ever been to.” Perhaps he is misunderstanding what the kids meant with all those signs seeming to express a sexual interest in our new president.
One wonders, too, whether declaring that Trump is not their president means the children don’t consider Trump supporters to be their countrymen and -women. Progressives’ willingness to impose their views upon those who disagreed with them would suggest that they don’t. Not really.
The closing thoughts of R.R. Reno’s “Public Square” column in the January issue of First Things magazine present a stark contrast:
As religious believers, we need to avoid contributing to the parched moral and political imagination of our time. Ethnic solidarity, patriotic loyalty, and a certain thrill in being able to come together to put a stick in the eye of remote and condescending elites—these are unstable and dangerous impulses. Yet they are also embers of love’s desire for something higher than self-interest. They show that ordinary people want to clothe their “shivering, naked humanity” in garments of solidarity.
In the Epoch of Concentration, our job as Christians is to promote more enduring and higher loves. Today’s populism must be anchored in a renewal of marriage and family. The lonely, atomized, homeless man—in this instance, especially the male—is more likely to rally behind the cruel gods of Blood and Soil than someone embedded in a network of familial relations and responsibilities. More important still, the growing desire for a return of the strong gods must be purified by a greater, supernatural desire for God, the one in whom alone we can find our true home.
We need to strengthen families and renew our sense of true community — meaning the relation of each to each, not the contracting out of our interactions to a government in the service of ideological dominance. As Reno goes on to write, “The only lasting remedy for false and destructive loves is more humane and higher loves.”
The slogans that the Providence students have been taught to mouth may use language of tolerance, but they are expressing hatred and moving us toward division. In recent months, Ahlquist has proven himself unwilling to share with me, so I won’t post the photograph here, but the most telling of his collection is of a sign on one student’s back that reads, “Hope is a Weapon.”
A better expression of Barack Obama’s guiding principle could perhaps not be found. He talked of unity, but it was the unity of capitulation. He promised hope, but it was the hope of crushing those who disagree on fundamentals into cold, dead silence.
Bringing the “atomized, homeless man” into our embrace is a superior approach. Let us hope that those of us who are thus enlightened can impress upon President Trump and his supporters the importance of “humane and higher loves” as a response to the students’ slogans of hatred and negation.