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Here's a question I've long sought the proper moment to ask: What can we learn from Donald Trump's critics?
But first, I need to narrow this down quite a bit. We can learn very different things, depending on which critics we mean. Whatever we think of the various groups and spokesmen who have chimed in critiquing Mr. Trump, I think we really can learn something useful from each.
Yes, we can learn from those who were lying. (See "Russia-gate" and the "very fine people" hoax.) The liars teach us how the Left does its dirty work and how its media echo chamber amplifies their slanders. We must learn how best to counter programmatic disinformation, even though most means of communication have been stripped away from us.
We can also learn a lot from those who hated Trump and us, his voters, on a tribal, visceral level; who used his policies as pretexts and damned him for things they shrugged at when other leaders did them. We must doggedly expose their moral double standards, of course. But we must also see the limited usefulness of engaging at great length with hypocrites.
Jesus would sometimes debate the Pharisees and Sadducees, though He could read their hearts and motives. At other times, He'd do the important work of exposing and discrediting them for the benefit of the well-meaning but credulous. We must learn the difference between cheap shot ad hominem arguments and legitimate critiques of a public figure's character, as disclosed in his words and deeds. The first is a logical fallacy. The latter? It's a perfectly legitimate mode of discernment we engage in every day.
For instance, if you reliably learn that your future brain surgeon or your kids' current school bus driver is a shaky alcoholic or that a given pastor is prone to covering up sex scandals — those aren't ad hominem arguments. Where "Can I trust this person?" is crucial to any decision, facts that tell you about his integrity don't amount to sinful gossip. They're vital (perhaps even soul-saving) data. The victims of clerical sex abuse will testify to that.
We can even learn from those within the conservative movement or within our churches who tossed one core principle they'd treasured after another onto the dumpster fire just to hurt a man whom they envied or sniffed at with class disdain or opposed because The Hive sent them little pheromone signals.