I know conservative Christians who feel squeamish about Matt Walsh. There's just something too combative about him, too brash, too offensive.
Lately I have been thinking about the major, salient reason why Walsh represents what conservatism needs more of, summed up in one word.
Let me state a principle that seems obvious to me but apparently is not obvious to everyone else: It's very important that people think right about things, and this includes being horrified when reason calls for horror and outraged when reason calls for outrage. It also includes knowing what we should be doing with ourselves instead of committing and excusing atrocities. (I'll get to the latter in due time in this post.)
In several areas of our country (abortion being one), reason has left the stage long ago, and outrage was not far behind. Hence even pro-lifers wince at the thought of showing pictures of aborted babies or calling abortionists "baby killers." Walsh recalls us--Americans, conservatives, pro-lifers, any sane people who happen to be left out there anymore--to our better selves by reminding us that we need to be capable of horror and outrage.
The creepiest and most gruesome thing in the batch -- possibly the most disturbing out of any that have been released, and among the most disturbing things I've ever seen in my life -- is footage of a different panel discussion, also at the NAF baby killer party.
A German abortionist is speaking to an audience, trying to explain how to morally rationalize the murder they commit every day. Some parts are muffled, and the accent is pretty thick (giving the whole thing an even more potent Nazi-like feel), but she appears to be reading comments from other abortionists struggling with the morality of baby murder. Here are some notable portions:
"Another said 'I find second term abortions grotesque.' Well, I'm OK with that [laughter]. It's not for you. It's for the women... you have to be strong and fight for them..."
"My coping mechanism is to focus on the BABY fetus. Reverence for something that WAS ONCE ALIVE AND NOW IT'S NOT. That's the hard part about this stigma..."
"An eyeball just fell down into my lap! And that is gross! [laughter]. But I say to myself, this abortion is going well, and it's going safely [uproarious laughter and applause]."
To review, a woman recounted killing a baby and having its eyeballs fall out of its skull. The room full of abortionists laughed hysterically and applauded. And, if you recall, these are people who fully admit the "fetus" is actually, in their words, a "baby," a "person," and "alive." They fully admit it is, again in their words, "violence" and "killing." Yet they find it funny and charming to hear about a dead baby's severed eyeballs.
I feel very certain that many of these people -- abortionists and abortion industry executives -- are demonically possessed. Or maybe that's almost wishful thinking. Maybe I still, after all this time, cannot bring myself to believe that human beings who are not insane or infested by demonic legions would not only kill children, but laugh and joke about it. How can a non-crazy, non-possessed person be THAT incredibly, profoundly, fantastically evil?
I can't understand it, but they can be. They are. The "how" is sin, we already know that. But there's just something about watching these women sit in folding chairs in nondescript hotel banquet halls, under florescent lights, with a tray of snacks on the table in the back of the room, talking calmly and even excitedly about stabbing children in the head. It sends chills down my spine. I feel like I'm looking right into Hell itself. And, in some ways, I guess I am.
Pro-aborts: abortion doctors admit they are murdering human babies, and they think it's funny. How do you feel about that? Forget tissue sale. How do you feel about the fact that you are in favor of something the abortion industry itself describes as killing babies? How do you feel when you hear a room full of cackling psychos laugh and applaud at the thought of a dead child's eyeballs rolling around on the floor?
That, folks, is why we need Matt Walsh. Because he says important things that are true and says them in words anyone can understand.
And y'know what? That's important if even one person, one person reads it and thinks more clearly about the evil of abortion than he did before. And mark this: That one person could be someone who is already pro-life.
Because we pro-lifers have sometimes become afraid to be horrified. I understand that. This is all so bad, so horrible, that we don't want to be having nightmares every night. We don't want to think about it. I think it was some snarky pro-choicer on Facebook "dialoguing" with me who said something like, "I don't know about you, but I don't burst into tears every time I pass a Planned Parenthood clinic." Well, buddy, maybe you'd be a better person if you did.
And when something has been treated as a right in our society for so long, and we've had to debate it in a polite way, it's hard to keep on talking like Matt Walsh. And when he does it, even some fellow conservatives get jittery.
Here's something to put that in perspective: Ryan Anderson and Robert P. George were invited (!) to submit an article about the Planned Parenthood videos to a secular ethics journal, the Harvard Health Policy Review. I don't know how that happened, but it's true. Here it is, in full. But when they sent in the invited piece, the editors requested that they make a few changes. Anderson and George had written things like this:
The government should not fund Planned Parenthood for a simple reason: it deliberately kills innocent human beings.
But intentionally killing innocent human lives is never good; and that’s why the federal government has rightly insisted that no funding through the Department of Health and Human Services may be used for elective abortion. Unfortunately, Planned Parenthood receives government funding for other services it provides. This is morally bad public policy. Planned Parenthood and other providers of elective abortion should not be eligible for any government funding.
That was not acceptable academic-ese, and they got some pushback.
The editor responded, “In general, we would prefer to avoid absolutes, as they do not convey an academic tone. Could this be rephrased?” “Bad,” they were told, “is a non-descriptive word and not appropriate for this article. Could this be rephrased?” And, “Words such as ‘killed’ and ‘innocent’ should be avoided if they are just being used for emotive effect.”
George and Anderson didn't use "baby killers" or "cackling psychos." But such concessions to academic dignity were insufficient to make the editors feel comfortable. Anderson and George refused to change, however, pointing out to the editors that words such as "killed" and "innocent" were being used because they are accurate. In other words, any emotive effect is a result of the reader's own response to plain language, not a result of sophistry or manipulation on the part of the authors. And the absolute terms did stay in the final version, as the above link shows. Good for George and Anderson.
That, however, is what we're up against when we enter the arena of public discourse and argue for the pro-life case--the demand that we not speak truth. I maintain that the result is that even pro-lifers are likely to get desensitized, and Walsh's article is a good corrective to that.
In this piece, Walsh talks about the utter insanity of the transgender movement, including the recent demand that an Illinois school allow a boy to change in the locker room in front of girls. (Which presumably also means that the girls have to change in front of the boy.)
Notice how much more sensible Walsh is than evangelical Mark Yarhouse, who thinks that Christians owe it to gender-confused people to call them by their preferred titles and treat them as whatever they say they are. Yarhouse couldn't be bothered to address issues like the locker room, the showers at the gym, the privacy issues, but Walsh does:
This story is very similar to many others we’ve heard in recent months, but it sets itself apart somewhat because it’s the first time President Obama’s federal government has stepped in so definitively to coordinate the victimization of high school girls. And make no mistake, allowing a boy to change in front of girls, and requiring that girls change in front of him, is sexual abuse. The problem isn’t simply that non-”transgender” predators can easily pretend to be “transgender” in order to gain access to the women’s facilities — although that does happen and it is a completely unavoidable outcome – but that allowing any man of any persuasion to watch girls use the bathroom or change their clothes is appalling and exploitative. It doesn’t matter if the man is “transgender” or regular gender or quasigender or nongender or gendergender. If he’s a man, he doesn’t belong there. Period.
Precisely. While I agree that the possible exploitation by people who aren't even gender-confused is a relevant consideration, it isn't the most important consideration.
And then this:
It’s not debatable. It’s not a matter that can be discussed among intelligent grown ups. There exists not a single morally or intellectually sound justification for this madness. I am often accused of being too harsh and too absolutist in my pronouncements on issues. Whether my gorilla in a China shop approach is always appropriate is another matter, but in this case, with this sort of thing, when dealing with the mind-numbing lunacies of “transgender” propaganda, I think every opponent should be adopting a hard-line stance. This is wrong. It’s demented. It’s evil. It’s dangerous. It’s abusive. Every argument in favor should be dismissed as the blathering nonsense it so clearly is.
This is why people who like Walsh like him. They sit around in the madhouse that the West is becoming listening to people talk like madness is debatable and wondering who is crazy--they or the opinion-makers. Walsh tells them the truth: It's not you. It's the opinion-makers.
And make no mistake. That's important. Because a major mechanism by which whole societies go mad is peer pressure. There is a huge segment of our society that follows the rule that you must treat anything as debatable that your peer group treats as debatable. So if your peer group says that infanticide is fine, then you have to wrestle with that. If your peer group says that gender is fluid and a man can turn into a woman, maybe it's true. The step from that to just believing whatever the crowd believes is a small one, and the effect is particularly pernicious for children and young people, who are programmed by God or nature to learn what is normal from those around them. Walsh has truly inherited the mantle of those who stand athwart the course of history crying, "Stop!" He tells us not to start pulling at our beards, looking pensive, and wondering how in the world we can answer the "arguments" of the transgender movement. Just as he tells his readers that they are right to be horrified about the dismemberment of unborn children and don't need to treat that as a debatable matter, he tells us that we may condemn transgenderism out of hand as the pernicious craziness that it is. That is an important social function, especially for those who still retain sprigs of sanity in themselves but need the plant nurtured.
Walsh also gets the zero-sum game of the homosexual movement, and there are many Christians who absolutely need to hear this and take it in:
This Illinois case is incredible considering how far the school district went to accommodate the deluded young man. Administrators first changed the pronouns on official school records to reflect whatever sex the “transgender” is pretending to be. That wasn’t enough. They allowed boys to play on girl sports teams, needlessly endangering safety and providing an unfair advantage to the team with the cross dressing male. That wasn’t enough. They let “transgenders” use the bathrooms of their choice. That wasn’t enough. They even let the boy use the girl’s locker room. The only stipulation — the only attempt they made to offer the real girls some shred of privacy and decency — was to ask the boy to change and shower behind privacy curtains, which they had specially installed for him. That wasn’t enough.
The school, like most schools in the country, bent over backwards to grant enormous and unreasonable favors to a small and demanding branch of an already tiny demographic. They made girls give up their sport’s teams, their bathrooms, and most of their privacy in the locker room, but the one single concession they asked of the boy was that he use a curtain. It still was not enough. It is never enough.
In liberalism, there is simply no demand that can be made, no requirement that can be expected, no line of distinction that can be drawn where “transgenders” and homosexuals are concerned. They must be given everything. Everything. And it’s never enough.
This is what the marriage fight was all about. Many states had already offered homosexuals an arrangement that would carry all of the same legal benefits as marriage, just without the title. But it wasn’t enough. Most homosexuals aren’t even interested in monogamous relationships, but they wanted access to marriage — marriage itself, not something close to it — because, well, just because. Because it’s never enough.
At the same time, Walsh is not simply the Christian version of "Islamic rage boy." And this is important. The temptation is strong in the face of so much craziness in the world to become merely destructive and bitter. Walsh may be an angry young man, but he is more than that, much as the squeamish among conservatives, and a fortiori the left, would like to portray him as merely a shock jock. On the contrary, he counsels constructive action--marriage, commitment, child-bearing, home schooling (and here). He uses words like "virtuous" and "beautiful," and has this to say about being a father:
My kids aren’t my life. But I’m not my life, either. I was at one time, or I thought I was, but not anymore. And their lives are eternally tied to mine, and mine to their, and every decision that I make will have an impact on them, for better or for worse. This is a responsibility that I must always keep in mind, all of the time, no matter what.
It’s not my life. It’s hers, it’s his, it’s theirs, it’s ours. Ultimately, it’s His, and He has given it to them. So my life — MY life — is over.
This is true. This is beautiful. This is why parenting is a high calling.
And that is conservatism.
Conservatism is about conserving something. Yes, that often (especially nowadays) does require righteous anger, and the fact that Walsh can dish it out is the reason why some people can't handle him. They need to get over that. But ultimately, conservatism is about building, not tearing down.
Do I agree with every word that proceedeth from Matt Walsh's keyboard? Of course not.
But I wish we had several million more like him.