One of the popular progressive responses to the election of Donald Trump has been #TheResistance, a hashtag that allows Trump-opposers to identify themselves, a rallying cry of sorts. The hashtag brings to mind the French Resistance during WWII, which fought a guerrilla campaign against the German invaders in France.
The French Resistance’s ultimate goal was to be part of driving the invaders out of their country, and to that end they fought tooth-and-nail to oppose everything the German occupiers did. Their goal was to frustrate more than to overthrow.
Likewise, today’s Resisters seem set on opposing every action Trump takes. They apparently see no acceptable compromise on any issue: judging from Twitter (always a scientific approach), many who identify with #TheResistance have opposed ANY action on Trump’s cabinet picks, for example. And Trump’s egregious actions—the immigration ban and its incompetent (or worse) rollout, for example—they claim as grounds for impeachment.
Through the first 2.5 weeks of the Trump Presidency, the opposition has been vehement and unceasing.
I have two questions for #TheResistance.
1. Are there limits to what is acceptable in opposition to Trump?
Are Black Bloc riots, such as those that occurred in Berkeley in protest of Milo Yiannopoulis, acceptable? There have been tweets suggesting that Trump should be assassinated: is that acceptable? Would acting upon those tweets be acceptable?
In opposing Trump:
- Is lying about Trump (falsely reporting events, statements, facts, so as to make him look worse to the unconvinced) acceptable? (Does anyone remember Moby, 1990’s pop icon, suggesting that lying about Republicans to ruin their reputations was everyone’s patriotic duty, since Republicans were doing so much to damage the country?)
- Is violence against third parties acceptable?
- Is violence against Trump acceptable? (Have there actually been more than 12,000 tweets calling for Trump’s assassination?)
At what point have you become indistinguishable from the thing you hate? Or does #TheResistance hold that Trump has reached the threshold—a Hitler, a Stalin—at which he has become such a monster that opposing him with monstrous actions is acceptable?
2. What is the end game?
What’s the goal of today’s Resistance? Is the goal driving out everyone who disagrees with them, to “take their country back” from the forces of oppression and hate? If the French Resistance is the analogue, then that might indeed be the goal.
Of course, those “forces of oppression and hate” aren’t invaders from a foreign country. They are fellow American citizens who have names and families and faces and votes. And they don’t think they are supporting “oppression and hate.”
Even if the Resistance is 100% right about their moral standing on every issue—something I vehemently deny, but let’s accept it as a given. Even if they’re completely on the side of the angels, is driving out everyone they think is bigoted or racist a worthy goal?
What is the goal? If it’s to convince, to win hearts and minds, are the predominant techniques—lashing out, anger, vituperation, intimidation, threats of violence, and acts of violence, likely to achieve the goal?
America today is more polarized than at any other time in my memory since the height of protests against the Vietnam War. Is #TheResistance aware that those protests gave American two terms of Richard Nixon?
My concern in the end is for the American church. Is there any way that American Christians on one side of this divide will ever be able to have fellowship with those on the other?