The outrage over Donald Trump’s remarks in recent weeks has not only been hysterical and pitiful; it has, on a very fundamental level, exposed one of the most pernicious pillars of post-Christian psychobabble in the modern West: namely, the extolling and promotion of “empathy” as a moral guidepost. The response to Trump may have been the most clear example to date of how this very clever trick from the evil one has created a nasty cultural infection in America and Europe. It is a form of Christian heresy, perhaps not as overt as Luther’s challenge to the Church in the 16th century, but it undeniably has a clear Christian imprint while being viscerally anti-Christian as a matter of principle.
The modern leftist cultural agenda–from gay rights to multiculturalist pandering to Islam–is driven in large part by a powerful sense of righteousness and pseudo-kindness. When gay rights advocates, especially those below the age of 30, speak of gay marriage, one is hard-pressed to imagine a more pious set of nuns or monks from the Middle Ages than these Bernie Sanders fans. One almost gets the sense from them that the act of homosex is an austere mystical ritual in which the participants gain enlightenment and moral enrichment. To question whether gays should get married invites the question of whether one might take a sledgehammer and crush a statue of Lincoln with it: you must be a really mean, cold-hearted person who is not sensitive to those who are unlike you.
And this is where “empathy” comes in. Take any victim-oriented political issue in the modern world–gay rights, transgender individuals, Islamic immigration or terrorism, policing in black communities, controlling the border–and a leftist will inevitably question whether conservatives have gay friends, transgender friends, Muslim friends, black friends, or Mexican friends. Presumably, if one has a friend from one of these groups, then one’s capacity for critical thinking is automatically suspended and, as a matter of principle, one will vouch for these groups within the parameters of the leftist agenda. Oppose gay marriage? Then you must not know any gay people. Think transgender surgery is unhealthy and self-destructive? Then you must not know the struggle of someone who is going through a gender identity crisis. Think the Syrian refugees could contain some bad apples? Then you need to hear some touching stories of individual refugees to feel their pain.
What all of this reveals is that the West is indeed paying the price for its jettisoning of Christianity, because without Christianity, it is clearly incapable of grasping reality and thereby protecting itself. Put differently, the Western media and governing classes are incapable of being effective against the threat of Islamic militancy because of the inherent limitations of their post-Christian understanding of the world. For decades now, theological doctrine has been cast aside as a significant area of education, most notably at prominent Catholic universities, and it is no small wonder that the incompetents in the media cannot fathom that Muslims actually have religious doctrines they believe in, unless they are weirdo “extremists” or “radicals”. Having rejected the concept of Christian doctrine, they cannot even conceive of a possibility of Islamic doctrine.
In this post-Christian world, one’s moral development is supposed to be centered on personal interactions with as vast a range of different people as possible. Supposedly, by collecting a vast number of anecdotes in the recesses of one’s brain, traditional moral principles are eradicated and a sense of cultural identity to preserve becomes regarded as a Nazi impulse. While I personally enjoy interacting with a vast array of people from different cultures, the notion that this kind of experience somehow automatically makes someone an ideological leftist is a non-sequitur. It may be the case for weak-minded and touchy-feely people with no concept of rigorous analysis, but there is no logical connection, for instance, between having a Muslim co-worker and then not thinking analytically about Islamic doctrines. However, there is a logical connection between having a Muslim co-worker as an intellectually deprived modern Westerner and thinking that this nice individual somehow reflects on Islamic principles in an all-encompassing way. This latter scenario, alas, is what all too many contemporary Westerners fall into the trap of.