What’s going on? The New Yorker planned to interview former Donald Trump strategist, alt-right leader, and nativist Steve Bannon at one of their events and social media erupted with protest and cancellations of subscriptions. Within hours, the magazine canceled Bannon’s talk and said sorry.
In reaction on a recent segment of his radio show, Trump cheerleader and evangelical author Eric Metaxas extended an interview invitation to Bannon and not much happened. On that same show, Metaxas hosted alt-right queen Ann Coulter. Mr. Metaxas has had Ms. Coulter on his show for friendly interviews before.
Metaxas considers Brit alt-right poster girl Katie Hopkins his “hero.” Milo Yiannopolis has been his friendly guest as well.
These are not interviews which challenge the guests on their alt-rightness.
Obviously, it is his show, he can do what he wants. I am just surprised that there is no backlash or consequence for going full alt-right. Mainstream Christians will continue going on the show as if nothing else is going on in the culture.
Nothing to see here.
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Image – Fair use
Today, Eric Metaxas went on full Trump defense. Most recently, he tweeted:
Personally, I think the possible comparison is to Musolini but all of this is debatable and the jury is still out. I will add that Metaxas should clean up his own house before he scolds anyone about historical knowledge (when will Metaxas issue a retraction on the spurious Bonhoeffer quote he has promoted for years?).
However, what caught my eye was his retweet of Ann Coulter’s justification of Trump’s mocking references to New York Time reporter Serge Kovaleski. In her column yesterday, Coulter refers readers to footage of Trump also mocking a General and Ted Cruz. She claims the footage proves that Trump did not mock Kovaleski’s disability. Metaxas retweeted it with this message.
What makes Metaxas’ defense of both Trump and Coulter astonishing is how Coulter defends Trump in her new book. In that book, she claims Trump was not mocking the reporting due to his disability, but because he clarified earlier reporting on Muslim response after the 9-11 attack on the World Trade Center. She said Trump was just doing a “standard retard” in order to mock Kovaleski. Make sure you read the sentence with the word “retard” highlighted in yellow.
Standard retard? Apparently, Coulter thinks having a standard move to mock intellectually disabled people is more acceptable than tailoring one’s ridicule to individual disabilities.
I ask myself: Why is Eric Metaxas recommending Coulter’s defense of Trump making fun of anyone? Because Trump used his “standard retard” to ridicule three people, it is somehow better than using it to make fun of one disabled reporter? I am truly confused by how this justification of inexcusable behavior can be considered the kind of virtue that Metaxas hawks in his new book.
Did Trump Ridicule a Disabled Reporter?
I watched the clips Coulter recommended and I don’t think it is as clear as she does.
First, she doesn’t address why Trump said he didn’t know the reporter when in fact he did. Trump said he was a nice person and told the crowd before he launched into his mocking routine that “you gotta see this guy” referring to Kovaleski. Trump then accused the reporter of using his disability to grandstand (see the Politifact article on these points).
Also, Trump is much more animated and draws his arms up to his body (akin to Kovaleski’s disability) while flailing around when he is mocking Kovaleski more so than when he mocks the General and Ted Cruz. I have embedded the videos below. Watch and decide for yourself.
Trump on Serge Kovaleski and the General:
Trump on Ted Cruz (which this excellent piece points out is three months later! Reporters could not have ignored the response to Cruz since it hadn’t happened yet.)
Whether Trump singled out Kovaleski or was “doing a standard retard” doesn’t matter much to me. It is a very Sad! day when political pressures lead to defense of the indefensible.
With Ann Coulter on his Monday radio show, Eric Metaxas seemed stunned that historians would critique his new book, If You Can Keep It. Coulter warned people that her new book would likely contain errors and Metaxas jumped off of that comment to complain that people have written essays about the errors in his book. Listen:
He acknowledges that he got religious liberty in the colonial period wrong but implies he could change a sentence around to make it accurate. He glosses over his error by implying he only got it wrong in one sentence (not so, see this post). He also claims he is correct in his interpretation of John Winthrop’s “City of a Hill” speech. I think historians John Fea and Tracy McKenzie would enjoy hearing his defense.
Without naming him, Metaxas mentioned Fea’s six-part series critiquing the book. He seems amazed that his errors deserve scrutiny.
I am amazed that he is amazed.
The sorry state of books by Christian celebrities is illustrated by this exchange. Coulter and her publisher are going into print without sufficient fact-checking. Metaxas jumps right in and seems bewildered that Christian readers would expect that a book using history to make a case should be historically accurate.
Metaxas is happy to take the adulation of his readers who don’t know any better, but he is dismissive of those who point out reasonable critiques. On twitter, he has blocked me and several others who have brought these things to his attention. From this response, it seems to me that he doesn’t care that thousands of readers will need to unlearn the factual errors they have trusted in his book.
For more on the controversy surrounding Metaxas’ new book, see the following sources:
John Fea’s series
Tracy McKensie’s blog
Gregg Frazer’s review
My article in the Daily Caller
My blog posts addressing the errors
Of all the rationalizations for Trump I have heard, the conversation between Eric Metaxas and Ann Coulter is the most scandaleux.
Today, Ann Coulter was on Metaxas’ show and the conversation got around to Donald Trump. Metaxas tripled down on his support for Trump. For her part, Coulter again referred to the 1965 immigration reform as the source of our current immigration problems. In the process, Metaxas told the audience his parents came from Greece in the 1950s. Lucky them. Prior to the 1965 immigration bill, immigration from Greece was restricted. The 1965 immigration reform demonized by Coulter expanded immigration from Greece as well as other eastern and southern European nations.
Trump, the Poor Man’s Rich Guy
At 32:56 into hour one with Ann Coulter, Metaxas talked about Trump’s appeal to working people. Metaxas told Coulter that Trump doesn’t seem like a plutocrat and is comfortable spending time on construction sites because that where he has spent most of his time. Coulter then said that Trump has always been like that. She said in 1988 Trump said he didn’t get along with “the fancy rich people.” The strangeness continued:
Metaxas: Trump is the classic nouveau riche in the sense that the elite want to sneer at people like that. And people like that are so disturbing to the cultural elites that the ideal that someone like this could be potentially president, it’s very upsetting. You see that on the left and on the right and again this is independent of policy stuff.
Coulter: You are absolutely 100% right about that. That’s a lot of what the “never trump” animus comes from.
Coulter: …because it isn’t logical. Whenever people aren’t giving you logical arguments, I’m mean I’m not one to go around looking for motives, but they’re perfectly clear in this case with the sneering and the spluttering and the sighing. They aren’t trying to make a factual argument, it’s just, ‘he’s so déclassé’.
Metaxas: Right, right.
Of course. How could I have missed that in myself?
Probably, that is what is going on with the hundreds (and growing) of delegates who want to vote their conscience at the GOP convention. They feel so above the Donald.
What Metaxas said might be more accurate about Trump’s father, but not Trump. Trump had quite a significant head start on his current wealth. Given the lavish lifestyle Trump has lived, it seems impossible to believe that anyone has ever complained about having a “déclassé'” president. If anything, Trump has been part of the cultural elite class. He has bragged about using his money to buy politicians, including the attorney general of Florida.
I suspect Trump has spent time on construction sites. Probably though, he should have spent more time on them. According to past building contractors with the Trump organization, he hasn’t paid many of his construction contractors. In Atlantic City, Trump is known for failure to pay on time and full price. USA Today found hundreds of liens and lawsuits where prompt and full payment was an issue. While Trump hasn’t lost them all, he has lost plenty. According to USA Today’s, New Jersey’s Casino Control Commission records in 1990 demonstrate that at least 253 subcontractors weren’t paid in full or in a timely manner.
If anything is classic about the exchange on Metaxas’ show, it is an illustration of rationalization and confirmation bias.
Au contraire Metaxas and Coulter, the factual arguments have been made (many times, e.g. here). Neither of you like them. That is fine, but one of you is out hawking a book that claims America is screwed if we don’t return to virtue. So let’s drop the silly notion that Trump’s opponents are snooty old moneyed rich people who look down on Trump the rich common man.
To paraphrase Coulter, using French words is not an argument.
Ann Coulter dropped by the Eric Metaxas Show to rant about third world immigrants and promote Donald Trump. By and large, Metaxas agreed with her.
You can listen to the entire broadcast at Soundcloud and on Coulter’s You Tube account. The segment with Coulter begins at 10:44. Rather than provide a transcript, I will just describe the segment. If Eric Metaxas endorsing both Ann Coulter and Donald Trump is something that is of interest to you, then you will want to hear it for yourself.
While bordering on being incoherent, I think Coulter tried to sell an analogy from Nazis to Muslims in her opening statements. She noted that we did allow Germans to come into the country in WWII but we got technology out of the deal. She wondered what we are getting out of current Muslim immigration. Metaxas seemed a little befuddled and asked Coulter to clarify her statements. She then said that the Orlando shooter Omar Mateen was not an American (even though he was born in New York) because his parents came from Afghanistan.
She then blamed the presence of non-European immigrants on Teddy Kennedy. Specifically, she referred to immigration reform supported by Kennedy (The Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965). Previously, immigration from Africa, Asia, and eastern Europe was restricted in favor of immigration from western Europe. This law changed the quotas to allow the entrance of immigrants who Coulter disparagingly referred to as “hoards of the third world.”
According to Coulter, the Democrats had political reasons for wanting to change the immigration laws:
The Democrats looked around the country, they realized they couldn’t get Americans to vote for them, so they decided to bring in hoards of the third world, and the third world, as you beautifully described in your opening, have very different ideas than those of us who came from the Magna Carta, the glorious revolution, the Declaration of Independence. That’s our culture. They have a different culture that has a different view of human life but it helps the Democrats at the ballot box.
She said the bill cut off immigration from western Europe, the people who “traditionally populated this country.” She denied the proposition that the U.S. is a nation of immigrants but told Metaxas that we have been overrun with “cheap labor” from the third world who hate the country.
Who Favored the 1965 Immigration Reform?
In fact, a higher percentage of Republicans than Democrats in Congress voted for the 1965 immigration bill. Most of the opposition to the bill came from southern Democrats who did not want to upset the ethnic profile of the nation. Coulter has to revise history to provide fuel for her ranting. Later in the broadcast, she again blamed Teddy Kennedy for a bill that more Republicans than Democrats in 1965 supported. There was a time when the GOP was the party of Lincoln.
Metaxas then took the conversation in the direction of support for Trump. Coulter claimed that Trump is the only hope to address the immigration problem. Metaxas agreed. He said the flaws in Trump are outweighed by the fact that he may get to name conservative judges. Metaxas said we might go off a cliff and die if someone besides Trump is elected.
Then, after complaining about California, they talk about the wisdom of having bar patrons carry guns to prevent mass shootings. From there, the conversation covered the usual pros and cons (mostly cons) of gun control. On one hand, Coulter minimized the harm guns might do but then said one gun in a bar might have saved the day.
The segment closed with Metaxas and Coulter lamenting how badly Trump is being treated in the press. What a shame that a free press reports the facts about Mr. Trump. Coulter and Metaxas have special criticism for Mitt Romney since Romney has led the #nevertrump charge. They seem to agree that Romney has some psychological problem (e.g., pathological envy?) which sets him against Trump. I think Romney is shocked that so many people who should know better are supporting Trump.
Metaxas and the Bonhoeffer Card
During part of the first ten minutes, Metaxas gave tribute to Dietrich Bonhoeffer. This is ironic to me in that he then pivoted to his guest Ann Coulter and their mutual support for Donald Trump. For me, following Bonhoeffer’s example means rejecting a Trump nomination. The GOP delegates would emulate Bonhoeffer if they worked to nominate another candidate to run against Clinton. When it comes to Metaxas, I agree with this fellow:
Ted Cruz surged to second place among candidates for President in the survey.
Marco Rubio continues to enjoy strong support from evangelicals surveyed with 44.8% of the respondents choosing Rubio as their first choice. Cruz increased to around 25% with the rest of the candidates lagging behind. Ben Carson’s stock fell and Donald Trump is near the bottom with apparently one respondent picking Trump.
The World survey has made some enemies in recent weeks. Ann Coulter exploded about it because Trump isn’t doing better. World’s J.C. Derrick replied to her rant with some facts.
Although Cruz supporters may take hope in this month’s results, I doubt they will have much more to celebrate. Said plainly, I believe a Cruz nomination assures a Hillary Clinton win. Cruz is not center-right as he implies he is; rather he is far right with supporters who want U.S. law to reflect Old Testament injunctions. He cannot back away from this and maintain any integrity with his base. In the general election, all of the pandering to the right wing fringe will be remembered.
If Ann Coulter still has followers among evangelical and conservative Christians, she may have lost them this week. Wednesday she stuck to the missionaries-are-Christian-narcissists argument (see her rant from last week) with lots of venom for all.
Many Christians are outraged and Coulter pretends that outrage is about all her critics have. She huffs:
I planned to respond to my critics this week, but, unfortunately, there’s nothing to respond to. They call me names, say I’m cruel, malicious, not a Christian, compare me to Howard Stern and cite the titles of my books as if they are self-refuting. (Zippy, aren’t they?)
In other words, it feels like a book tour.
Missing from these alleged refutations is what we call a “point.” What is with these Christians? I know God didn’t distribute brains evenly, but can’t they make an argument? Christian websites should start separating columns into “Arguments” and “Anger” sections.
It is jarring to read Coulter faulting her critics for a failure to advance an argument since her main approach is to just argue. She has an opinion, but I wouldn’t call what she has a point either. She likes America better than anywhere else and she wants Christians to stay home and do religion here. I get it, but I wouldn’t call it a principled argument supported by anything other than her own brand of outrage.
She contends that America is the most important country in the world and if America falls, then the whole world falls. Thus, all resources should be spent in America.
As it turns out, almost all of the resources are spent in America.
According to an article by the late Bill Bright, only 5% of church budgets go overseas. Former deputy historian of the House of Representatives Fred Beuttler wrote in a chapter on American missions:
For all the public emphasis on missions, it remains a small portion of evangelical budgets.
Beuttler cites Barrett and Johnson who assert that about $16 billion is embezzled in churches each year which is more than the $15 billion given to missions outside the U.S. It should really be obvious to anyone who attends a typical evangelical church that most money and time goes to maintaining existing ministries right here at home. Coulter already has what she wants, but she wants more.
Coulter advances a false dilemma for evangelicals – stay home or go elsewhere as missionaries. If you go on mission, then you are an idiot wasting yourself; if you stay home, you are helping save America which is good. The dilemma is an illusion. Clearly, evangelicals can and should do both. However, looking at the numbers, we are not doing both very well, with missions getting the tiny end of the stick.
This, Ms. Coulter, is a rebuttal and one which I don’t expect to see you include in your next column.
Subtitle: Screw the Great Commission too.
Coulter rants in Human Events today about Dr. Kent Brantly, the doctor with the Ebola virus flown to the United States for treatment:
There’s little danger of an Ebola plague breaking loose from the treatment of these two Americans at the Emory University Hospital. But why do we have to deal with this at all?
Why did Dr. Brantly have to go to Africa? The very first “risk factor” listed by the Mayo Clinic for Ebola — an incurable disease with a 90 percent fatality rate — is: “Travel to Africa.”
Can’t anyone serve Christ in America anymore?
It gets worse. Coulter spews:
Which explains why American Christians go on “mission trips” to disease-ridden cesspools. They’re tired of fighting the culture war in the U.S., tired of being called homophobes, racists, sexists and bigots. So they slink off to Third World countries, away from American culture to do good works, forgetting that the first rule of life on a riverbank is that any good that one attempts downstream is quickly overtaken by what happens upstream. America is the most consequential nation on Earth, and in desperate need of God at the moment. If America falls, it will be a thousand years of darkness for the entire planet.Not only that, but it’s our country. Your country is like your family. We’re supposed to take care of our own first. The same Bible that commands us to “go ye into all the world and preach the Gospel” also says: ”For there will never cease to be poor in the land. Therefore I command you, ‘You shall open wide your hand to your brother, to the needy and to the poor, in your land.’”
Theological genius that she is, Coulter counters a command of Jesus with a completely compatible injunction from Deuteronomy. False dilemma much?
Without any awareness of the irony, Coulter ends:
There may be no reason for panic about the Ebola doctor, but there is reason for annoyance at Christian narcissism.
Yes, Ann, there is reason for annoyance at your “Christian” narcissism.
Bryan Fischer really wants to love Ann Coulter, even though she took a speaking engagement with the dreaded GOProud. He is even willing to forgive, now that it is over.
I did say that Ann might surprise us all and take the homosexuals straight on, but guessed that a desire not to upset her hosts, who surely paid a princessly sum to entice her into speaking and appearing on all their promotional posters, would likely prevent her from getting up in their business.
Well, I was wrong.
Ann took them straight on and gave them some straight talk I doubt they were ready for. There is no amount of sugar that will help this medicine go down.
Fischer read this write up of the event in Politico and got all misty:
And Ann, all is forgiven. Humble pie has never tasted so sweet. You are no longer the “Joan of Arc of homosexuality,” as I described you last month, you are now Daniella of the Lion’s Den. Good on ya, lass.
Not sure what he was eating in that humble pie. Coulter never met a group she couldn’t insult so her comments seem in character and her take on it seemed different than Fischer’s.
As for Coulter, she told POLITICO the embrace of gays on the right could only be reciprocated.
“Right wingers have always liked gays. Look at all of Ronald Reagan’s gay friends,” she said, proceeding to cite an unverified rumor dating back half a century: “Look at my personal hero Joe McCarthy and his” – airquotes – “special assistant.”
Some right wingers like gays so much they take them on trips to lift their luggage, although I am not sure that is what Coulter meant. Mr. Fischer on the other hand might need a new column to deal with Daniella of the Lions Den’s fondness for gays.
UPDATE: Well perhaps Ann didn’t heart the GOProud crowd quite as much as Politico made it seem. Here is another view via RightWingWatch, from another attendee.
UPDATE: Or maybe she did a little more than the attendee above experienced. Read this conservative gay man’s take on the situation. The gay marriage argument was a very un-Fischer type argument, according to Alex Knepper at Frum Forum:
You conservative gays don’t actually care about this activist crap like marriage, or serving in the military. Ultimately, what you really want is some sort of assurance that Americans are accepting of gays, not marriage itself. Gay marriage initiatives don’t fail because Americans hate gay people; they fail because marriage is fundamentally about rearing children. Most Americans love gay people; they just don’t want that institution extended.
I’ll let conservative gays respond to that but it is probably not enough to let Ann keep her Warrior Princess badge.