Why the Right’s Defense of Sean Spicer Sent Me Running for the Hills
Don’t. Just, don’t tell me Sean Spicer is okay because he’s not really a Holocaust denier. Don’t try to rationalize his stupidity with, “but Obama signed a nuclear deal with anti-Semites”. Wrong is wrong is wrong. Which is why I have a really hard time trying to stomach most things coming out of the Right lately. It’s also why I’m drifting away from politics altogether.
My first paid writing gig online was for a now defunct publication of the David Horowitz Freedom Center. I wasn’t looking to be a political writer. I only landed the gig because I read an article about anti-Semitism at CPAC and wrote to one of the guys interviewed, David Swindle, to thank him for calling out such gross anti-Semitism lurking on the Right, the kind that no one wants to talk about. He wrote back and offered me the chance to blog about anti-Semitism in the American political spectrum. It sounded like a righteous opportunity, so I said yes.
Eventually Swindle moved and brought me along to PJMedia for the ride. I continued to cover current events from a Jewish perspective, first via the culture pages and then via straight political news. Remember that whole story about the Obama Administration getting secretly involved in the Israeli elections? I caught wind of that and published a piece at PJMedia that went viral. Ion Mihai Pacepa, the highest ranking Soviet official ever to defect to the United States became a personal resource when I was given the opportunity to read and review his painfully informative book Disinformation. Good times, good times.
I was learning powerful stuff and putting it out there. Then a baby happened. Priorities changed in my life and so did my assignments at PJ. Buried knee-deep in parenting and faith, I rarely lurked in political news. The reason was two-fold. One, I was consumed with parenting. Two, being a Never Trumper made me a pariah on the Right. If I thought I was an outcast before the election, the change in the Right’s tone afterward confirmed my suspicions beyond all reasonable doubt. Suddenly, Never Trumpers who’d rooted their arguments in the pervasive anti-Semitism surrounding Trump before the campaign were jumping to note that anti-Semitism existed in America long before Trump became elected. How defaced Jewish cemeteries after Trump can be justified by defaced Jewish cemeteries before Trump I don’t know: Evil is evil is evil. And don’t tell me anti-Semites haven’t been given a free pass now that a guy who never truly acknowledge the role anti-Semites played in getting him elected is in the White House.
That brings us to Sean Spicer’s infamous comments about “Holocaust Centers” et. al. Not that long after the gaffe of all gaffes I started seeing headlines like “Spicer is Criticized for Stating a Fact About Hitler” and tweets like, “ Spicer said an idiotic, non-malicious thing about the Holocaust. Obama signed a nuclear deal with open advocates for anti-Jewish genocide.” Most conservatives went on binges of explaining precisely why Spicer is not a Holocaust denier which also played weird in a Yeah, the guy’s stupid but he’s not evil sort of way, which belittled the main point of the entire incident: Evil is evil is evil.
Whether evil wears a slick business suit and is deigned cool by popular culture, or it comes in the form of a comical buffoon spouting moronic statements from a podium, it’s still evil. You can’t rationalize it away or dismiss it as poor taste unless, of course, you’re in the partisan politics game and the evil is coming from your side of the ring. Then you have to justify it somehow. So, either you get into nitpicky arguments over the difference between Zyklon B and Sarin, or you try to deflect the attention by portraying it as stupidity being blown out of proportion by the other side. Either way, you justify evil.
I didn’t get into this game to play partisan politics. The great thing about focusing on good and evil instead of politics is that good and evil are a portable game. A writer can always find good and evil in whatever situation they want to write about. The problem with trying to write about good and evil in politics is that the side that used to be rooted in good is selling itself to evil in a bargain for power. Okay, he’s stupid, but… and Yeah, that seems anti-Semitic, but… It’s the “but” that always gets you. Here’s your evil test: If you can look at any situation lacking in moral character and manage to squeeze a “but” out of it you’re the one who needs to do some serious self-evaluation.
Mind you, this is coming from the woman who did her damndest to defend Ann Coulter this past election cycle, hoping against hope someone drugged her Kool Aid. Trust me, I get it: You want to have a side to root for. Teams, friends, allies, all of it is a cultural mindset rooted in evolutionary biology. No one can do it alone. And when you go through 8 years of being shat on by liberals (16 if you count the endless protests that occurred during the W. administration) you want to have your cake and eat it, too. Only, the thing is, it isn’t about you in the singular or the plural sense. It’s about something better, bigger, more powerful than you. What that is depends on who you serve: Politics or God.
I, for one, have moved my morality game to the world of parenting, motherhood, feminism and yes, even Judaism. Most importantly I’ve moved it into my role as a mother. Political wonks believe they’re championing the cause of making the world a better place for the next generation. The problem is that while we on the Right all have a reasonably shared vision of what that better place looks like, we’re in violent disagreement on how to get there. And that is where I choose to take the road less traveled. The good news is that I’m not alone. There are tons of us out there who want to stand up for good in ways that don’t involve justifying evil. We’re just realizing that direct political blogging isn’t the way to do it because the conversation has become insane.
So, while the wonks do their thing we’ll be raising our families, repairing our houses, participating in our communities and doing the dirty work of surviving and thriving the best way we know how: By staying true to our principles and planting them wherever life takes us. Look for us in the discussions you’d rather be having about art, music and yes, even cleaning house. We’re out there making life happen while other folks get paid to talk about it. And we’re talking about it in a way that makes an impact, because we’re too busy living the good life to waste our time trying to justify evil.