This week is a little shorter – I didn’t find as many eminently Silly Takes, and I didn’t receive that many, either, so we’re just gonna spend a little bit of time with two Silly Takes before moving on to next week.
I have to say, I’ve really been enjoying this project – it’s definitely helped keep me grounded over the last month, despite the state of the universe. Now, whenever I see a particularly terrible or perplexing piece of Internet writing, rather than losing a little piece of my soul, I gleefully file it away for consideration for #STOW. Some of you have told me you are doing this, too, so if nothing else, hopefully this project is good for our mental health!
Best Logical Leap Cunningly Disguised As A Syllogism
Matt Walsh, “Yes, of course Christians can support Trump’s immigration and refugee policies,” The Blaze, 1/31/2017
Matt Walsh has found his way into these august halls before, for a truly awe-inspiring tweet about birth control and fiscal responsibility, so it’s only fair we turn back to him from time to time and see how he’s doing.
Most of this piece is unremarkable, and although much of it annoys me, I don’t want to get too tangled up in scriptural exegesis here – something isn’t a Silly Take just because I think it’s wrong, and anyway, I’m not much of a Biblical scholar. The gist of the article is that yes, Christians can support Trump’s specific refugee bans, because of some moments in the Bible where St. Paul exhorts Christians to obey local governments. The throughline from “Christians can support controls on immigration” to “Christians can support these specific controls on immigration” is, uh, elided, to put it generously, but whatever.
But then we get this kicker paragraph:
Romans 13: Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.
Yes, Scripture does clearly exhort us not to “oppress” the “sojourners” from other lands (Exodus 22), but is it a form of “oppression” when our duly elected governing authorities pass immigration laws and travel restrictions designed to protect its own people? I don’t see how a sane adult could interpret it that way. And if you do interpret it that way, then you’ve effectively argued that immigration laws are inherently immoral across the board. But if immigration laws are inherently immoral, that would make the government itself inherently immoral because one of the primary and most essential functions of government is to protect the nation’s borders and maintain its sovereignty. How could a nation have a government if it has no borders? Clearly, Romans tell us that governments are necessary, and if it tells us that governments are necessary then it tells us that borders are necessary. You can’t have one without the other.
First of all, and this doesn’t matter, but I was always taught, in my brief flirtation with the ministry, that you cited chapter and verse of the Bible, not just chapter, to make it easier to find, such that the first citation should have read “Romans 13:1,” but, again, that doesn’t matter.
Second, though, while there’s a lot going on in this paragraph, let’s focus again on one of these sentences:
“Clearly, Romans tell us that governments are necessary, and if it tells us that governments are necessary then it tells us that borders are necessary.”
Now see here: Above, St. Paul says that it’s good to be subject to the governing authorities, and that governments that exist have been instituted by God. He sure doesn’t say “and there will always be governments, for Lo, governments are absolutely necessary, and by ‘governments,’ I mean nation-states in the specific way that dishonest bloggers in 2017 mean ‘governments.’” I will admit, it’s been a while since I’ve read the rest of Romans, but at the very least, if there is such a verse in the book, Walsh here should have cited it.
Also, and this is neither here nor there, but Walsh’s bio on The Blaze reads thus:
“Christian columnist and political incendiary Matt Walsh is an extremist — if truth is extreme.”
Is there anybody less extreme or incendiary than a tepid and tiresome evangelical blogger who is writing for Glenn Beck’s website because he was too lousy to make it in the real world?
The Silliest Take of the Week: 2/5/2017
Rebekah Sager, “Is ‘Trump bashing’ the new celeb nude selfie?” FoxNews.com,1/31/2017
The thesis: once, D-list celebrities got naked to get attention. Now, they bash Donald Trump. The final paragraph is a mesmerizing nothingness, as though the writer suddenly realized that “celebs will do stuff to get attention” was maybe not a particularly unique or insightful thought:
“In the end, North says, there’s no doubt, that for people who want to grow their following, whether they’re celebs or activists or brands, interacting with the public on trending topics is a way to be seen and heard and to increase their following.”
Dr. North, by the way, is cited as a “Professor of Digital Social Media,” as opposed, presumably, to a professor of Analog Social Media.
This Take isn’t exactly wrong so much as it is useless. It could never have been written, and the only thing that would have changed is this post right here – the world would otherwise have spun on, exactly the same as it was before. I kinda have to admire the gall of Ms. Sager, who pitched “D-list celebs will do whatever they can to get attention” as though it was a new thing to say.
Finally, there is something more than a little bit hypocritical about making fun of “nude celeb selfies” when the ad space directly next to this article looks thus:
“Hahah, look at those silly celebs, getting naked for attention and now bashing Trump” loses some of its sting if your website is one of the ones giving those silly celebs all the attention for getting naked.