In spite of those doomsday prophesies, a different sort of totalitarian force has emerged, but it's not being imposed by the Donald.
ALL FOR ONE AND ALL AGAINST TRUMP
This so called "resistance" movement can be characterized by a blood lust to devour those who openly support Trump, but this also extends to individuals who refuse to take up the fight. Remember here: mere tolerance is not sufficient - you must capitulate and embrace the cause.
"HATERS GONNA HATE"
A great example of this was completely off my radar until someone else pointed it out to me. Apparently, Taylor Swift has been under fire in the media. Surprisingly, the trouble didn't come from anything the pop-star said to promote Donald Trump. Actually, she hasn't said much of anything about the U.S. president, but that's exactly what's landed her in this predicament.
Back in September, the New York Daily News published an article entitled "Taylor Swift's silence on politics fuels speculation that she secretly voted for Trump." Really, is that what it does? The article quotes someone claiming to be close to the singer who says people are just reading too much into the lack of anti-Trump tirades by "Tay Tay."
The Daily News isn't the only publication taking their shots at Swift. Here's something from an article on The Guardian website:
In the year since Donald Trump was elected, the entertainment world has been largely united in its disdain for his presidency. But a notable voice has been missing from the chorus: that of Taylor Swift, the world’s biggest pop star. Her silence is striking, highlighting the parallels between the singer and the president: their adept use of social media to foster a diehard support base; their solipsism; their laser focus on the bottom line; their support among the “alt-right”.
Swift’s songs echo Mr Trump’s obsession with petty score-settling in their repeated references to her celebrity feuds, or report in painstaking detail on her failed romantic relationships (often, there is crossover). The message is quintessentially Trumpian: everyone is out to get me – but I win anyway. Seeded with clues to the identities of her famous associates, her lyrics reel in and solidify a hardcore fanbase – usually young, female followers known as “Swifties” – who passionately defend her honour on social media by attacking her detractors.
Maybe there actually is something valid to those points. Maybe this controversy, though, is rooted in some covert, public relations campaign to promote Swift's latest album. Who knows. Who cares. But beyond the general disdain this should elicit for gossip-mongering, celebrity news, it should also send Orwellian shivers down your spine.
Swift's critics assume that because she's not bashing Trump, she's somehow on his side. Then again, silence is compliance, right?
QUI TACET CONSENTIRE
The life of St. Thomas More is truly an inspiration. For all Catholics, he provides a great example of fidelity to the teachings of the Church - the Bride of Christ - in the face of certain death.
For many years, Sir More was a close confidant of King Henry VIII. And yet, despite the monarch's threats and persistence, More would not approve of Henry's decision to divorce his wife and marry another woman (or for cutting his ties with Rome). This caused great scandal across Europe, but the saint refused to compromise. All he had to do was surrender his conscience and he would have retained his wealth and prestige. Instead, he kept silent about the affair, choosing Christ and losing his head - the entry fee he paid for life eternal in the Kingdom of Heaven.
More's story continues to be told to this day, and most famously in the 1966 film A Man for All Seasons. Originally, it was a play by Robert Bolt, written for radio and reworked for the stage. It was a such a huge success that it made the leap to the big screen, eventually winning six Academy Awards, including Best Picture. Me, I'm not big on the blasphemous lines of dialogue in the film, which are uncalled for.
The climax of the movie comes at the end when More is on trial. At this point in the film, he does his best to defend himself using the law of the land, arguing that he never explicitly condemned any of the scandalous actions of the heretical and adulterous king:
A Man for All Seasons (1966 - Columbia Pictures)
In many ways, for many reasons, you'd never put Taylor Swift on the same level as a saint (though I pray she becomes one), but I think there's an interesting parallel here.
It's not unreasonable to argue that if someone is silent on a matter, it could mean that they are indeed in favour of it (to some degree). So it's not entirely illogical to assume the premise that Taylor Swift's lack of anti-Trump commentary is proof that she's a Trump fan. Then again, since it's not explicitly stated, as in the case of St. More, you can't know for sure. Ultimately, it leads us to judge what's in a person's heart, and there are only two who know the truth on that level: the person and God.
When we get into that territory, it's helpful to recall the words of Pope Francis: "Who am I to judge?" It's a phrase we often hear in association with the approval of personal morality that would normally be out of line with Church teaching. I think it's fitting to insert it into this conversation, though, because who are we to judge a pop-singer for her political convictions if she hasn't clearly stated them? More importantly, who are we, as Christians, to attack her for something she may or may not believe in?
As with Mr. Trump, you might not have to look hard to find flaws in Ms. Swift and examples of immorality, but we're all fallen creatures. If anything, we should all step back, cool off, and offer up some prayers for the pop-singer, hoping the good Lord might inspire in her a desire to use her God-given talents to work for His glory. We also might want to pray that we ourselves don't get trapped in our own sins when consuming gossipy news stories about celebrities.
While we should never divorce the truth of Christ from love-of-neighbour, maybe it's time for the left (and the right) to follow Pope Francis' advice.