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Now Is the Time for Battle

Peter Souza

Stephen Herreid - published on 04/23/14 - updated on 06/07/17

Conservatives are shrinking when their courage is needed the most.

“What are the elements of conservative rhetoric that repel the Left?”

I hear this question more and more from college-age conservatives. I admire the few of them who earnestly muster their powers of articulation in an effort to better witness to the unpopular principles of conservatism and Christianity. But all too many of them are simply on a witch-hunt for the truths that have become anathema in today’s left-leaning public square. Rather than look for the best ways to express the timeless truths that they’ve inherited, they’re really just engaging in a new and bloodless calculus, seeking to delete from their public discourse those truths which are least likely to be embraced by the enemies of the truth.

What will this tactic lead to? Well, if they keep it up, we may expect that this rising generation of conservatives will win the hearts of the Left. But this victory will be a victory of cowards.

It should also be remembered that the Left, which has successfully fought its way into near-invincibility, has never shied away from strong language. My fellow conservative “millennials” often hush my “conspiracy-theory” language, warning that I will only embarrass the Right and be ridiculed by the Left. I would remind them of Hillary Clinton, who may be our next president, and who wasn’t afraid to coin the alarming phrase “vast Right-Wing conspiracy.” When I’m warned against speaking in “sharp” or “moralistic language,” I remind my friends of Barack Obama’s recent speech at the National Action Committee, where he said that Republicans were engaged in an attack on voter rights “just out of political spite,” and that “there was no good reason for it … [it’s] wrong!”

While the Left continues its offensive in full, spitting, biting force, too many of our conservative and Christian leaders merely bite their nails in the upper room. Romney was very gentle in his debates with Obama. He couldn’t even muster the guts to mention the Benghazi cover-up (because he would have seemed like a “conspiracy theorist?”), or call Obama out on his horrendous track-record with the working class (he would have turned voters of with his “moralizing?”).

The result? An unprecedented number of demoralized conservatives didn’t even show up to vote. And so here we are the second presidential term of a partial-birth abortion advocate. My young friends think that we must be gentler in our public speech because that’s the “Christian” thing to do. But what about the many Christian constituents who are as fighting mad as they are underrepresented by their leaders? Who will do the “Christian thing” and come to the aid of these poor souls? I was roused and encouraged when I attended a recent lecture by the gutsy, devoutly Christian Tony Perkins. He observed that Barack Obama has “lots of supporters” because “he stands for something. Unfortunately, [some Republicans] don’t seem to stand for much at all.”

I’m reminded of the great, saintly journalist and author George Bernanos. Faced with the ominous cultural shifts that preceded the Second World War, he abhorred the pandering attitude that many Christians had toward their cultural enemies. He recognized that the many efforts to “attract” rather than “repel” the Church’s enemies operated on the assumption that his generation of Christians could save a truth-hating people by peddling its own wonderfully original arrangements of the truth. He believed this rhetorical approach rendered all who used it it “secret accomplices”:

“They believe in everything for the same reason they believe in nothing. If you went to the bottom of their apparent credulousness, you would find that it is only a form of the refusal to judge and that these people are suffering from a paralysis of their conscience.”

Bernanos continues, “At this point I know of no system or party to which one could entrust a true idea with the least hope of finding it intact or even recognizable on the following day.” While many did their best to apologize for the truth, he held it close and intact.

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