By Daniel Schultz
Late last week, my friend John Stoehr made a daring argument: “white evangelical Christian support for Donald Trump isn’t rooted in hypocrisy, contradiction or merely straying from the straight and narrow,” he said. “The reason they support a fascist president is simple: They’re sadists.”
You have to read the article to capture the nuances of what John is saying. The kind of sadism he’s talking about doesn’t have much, if anything, to do with sexual pleasure derived from the pain of another. Rather—drawing on the work of the philosopher Richard Rorty—”It’s about the pain, humiliation or even violence out-groups deserve by dint of being out-groups.” Sadism also includes the pleasure of seeing “justice” be done against those deserving punishment.
The conservative evangelical Ben Howe offers supporting evidence for Stoehr’s thesis (along with heaping doses of self-justification) in an interview with Emma Green at the Atlantic:
In the minds of a lot of conservatives, the left exists to impugn their motives, and the Republican Party regularly lied to them and said they would defend them and then didn’t. And that was the establishment. Trump became their hero, because he hated the establishment, and he beat up on the media, and he was fighting back against all these forces. The more he fights, the more they feel justified, like, He’s our hero because we needed someone to do this for us.
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