What Can You Do About the Americans Next Door?

In his first epistle to Timothy, Paul talks about those whose consciences are seared through lies and insincerity. If you’ve ever been curious to know what that looks like from the inside, you can check out Virginia Heffernan’s tale of hatred in the LA Times.

Ordinary Americans have had to deal with a lot recently: livelihood-killing lockdowns, families and communities torn apart through cancel-culture, having their federal government stolen from them, and so forth. But those like Virginia who can afford “pandemic getaways” have to deal with far greater burdens, like a neighbor helpfully plowing their driveway without asking anything in return. Sure that might sound neighborly but… what if they did it while supporting the other political party? “Oh, heck no,” says Virginia.

The whole thing should be silly to normal Americans. After all, we don’t plow our neighbors’ driveways because we like them or agree with their politics; we do it because they’re our neighbors. Unfortunately, she isn’t just a one-off crazy.  She is the product of a furious effort to dehumanize Trump supporters and thereby turn Americans into a new caste of untouchables.

But as hard as the wicked are trying to paint their political opposition as evil and retrograde, the results are still incredibly fragile. Even a simple act of kindness can throw that manufactured worldview into crisis. How could a “Trumpite” who supports blue lives be so fundamentally decent as to freely help his neighbor without even being asked? How could a figuratively-literal Nazi be someone so charitable that even she was forced to realize she owed him some measure of gratitude? As she observes,

When someone helps you when you’re down, or snowed in, it’s almost impossible to regard them as a blight on the world. In fact, you’re more likely to be overwhelmed with gratitude and convinced of the person’s inherent goodness.

Now that is certainly true, but having her license to hatred suddenly revoked was clearly bothersome for her all the same. You can tell because of how furiously she works to rebuild the anthill that was just kicked over by her neighbor’s kindness. The typical approach of calling him a Nazi and moving on ceased to be a potent enough drug to dull her conscience. So she had to compare him to Hezbollah. Then to the mafia. Then to the Nation of Islam. Then to Nazi collaborators. After all, those people could all act kind in superficial ways. Right? RIGHT?!

So where does Virginia end up when she’s finished clutching her pearls hard enough to make her hands bleed? Well, she desperately tries to reframe her neighbor as someone who might eventually mature enough to seek her forgiveness for his sins. Then she offers a standing invitation for him to someday become human again in her eyes by telling her she was right all along and by serving her political agenda. No doubt, she considers that the height of magnanimity.

I’ve seen plenty of people on Twitter calling her a horrible human being, and they’re not wrong. But she is still very much human. It was actually encouraging that even this let-them-eat-cake liberal who views her normal American neighbors as foreigners in her land and blasphemers against her religion (the Capitol was “desecrated” on Jan 6, doncha know) was still able to have a crisis of conscience when confronted by a good deed.

It was, of course, sad that she chose to strike that conscience dead lest her hatred abandon her, but not everyone will make that choice. More and more will inevitably be faced with that choice, though. And rebuilding that anthill will become more and more exhausting. The far more horrible truth that folks like Virginia have yet to face up to is that so-called “Trumpists” aren’t devotees to a particular man, but simply genuine Americans doing their best to live productive lives while reclaiming their country and their heritage for their children. We are everywhere; and we actually love our neighbors.

The media and the progressive left have done an excellent job of whipping up hatred against us. With the help of fools like Virginia, they will probably even succeed in turning that into open violence before too long. But it’s hardly the first time in history that a people has been dehumanized to justify others’ hatred. Neither will it be the first time that God lays down those who shed innocent blood–especially to a nation of His children.

About Matt

Software engineer by trade; lay theologian by nature; Lutheran by grace.
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