“What you intended as evil against me, God intended for good.” Those words from Genesis came to mind several times this past week as my family endured death and rape threats against me because of an anti-abortion tweet I wrote.
The quote comes from the story of Joseph, whose jealous brothers sold him into slavery to secure their father’s favor for themselves. Terrified and in chains, Joseph was taken to Egypt, where he rose from a lowly slave to a high official in Pharaoh’s court. Because of Joseph’s leadership, the people of Egypt and the surrounding territories survived a devastating famine. Through Joseph, God saved lives.
During the famine, when Joseph’s brothers were brought to him in Egypt, they were afraid because he was now in a position of power — surely, they thought, he would seek vengeance on them for what they had done. Instead, Joseph calmly said, “You intended to harm me, but God intended good.”
I say the same to the person (or persons) who found my cell phone number and sent me alarming, heavily masked voice messages threatening evil against me. This coincided with emails of similar intent that included my home’s location, causing me to contact the police to see what could be done to protect my family and me. Our home was immediately put under watch, and I couldn’t go out without having an armed escort.
Instead of driving me from the debate — in this case about abortion — these threats have provided an opportunity for me to see that I am not alone in this fight. Cultural and political commentators are not always aware of the support they have. We write alone, work alone, and often fight alone. Despite other voices in the public square echoing our words, we don’t always feel connected to others in what we do. Most of us plug along because we believe in our work, especially those of us who are conservative commentators in the days of the violent “Resistance.”
Since I informed my Twitter followers of my situation, I have received countless messages of support. Prayers, kind words, encouragement, and conceal carry advice have filled my inboxes. I have never seen such an outpouring of love from all quarters. From social media, to conservative news websites, to messages from fellow journalists who are anxious for the fray, to talk radio and others, support has been abundant. Many have shown what is good in this world, and my family has been strengthened by their courage.
Ironically, encouragement even came from those who don’t particularly like my political stances. Many people have often wondered what can be done to bridge the divides in the conservative movement — those between the “Trumpers” and “Never-Trumpers.” Well, I’ve found one answer. Fellow writers who have fought me vehemently and often with vitriol — which shamefully I returned or instigated — also reached out to me, either directly or indirectly, by spreading word of the threats against me, showing compassion despite our differences.
The “Resistance,” with its propagandized histrionics and violence, has drawn a line for us in the culture war — and all of us who care about truth, the civil society, and the dignity of human life stand together on the right side of that line. We often forget this, but God reminds us. Sometimes it takes evil for us to see the good. Darkness to show us the light. Hatred for us to remember how to love.
I write this without sentimentality. I know the disagreements we have in America. I am fully aware of the differences that still divide us. I am not advocating, “Can’t we just all get along, abandoning principle for appeasement?” I am reminding my fellow conservatives of the nature of the fight we are facing. And it is a fight — a battle of ideas, worldviews, and philosophies. One side fights for slavery to evil. The other fights for freedom from evil. At the core, it’s a spiritual battle.
I know many don’t like to talk of culture wars, but if the chaos we are witnessing and the agitating movements that have abandoned reason, wisdom, and judiciousness aren’t evidence of a culture war, I don’t know what is. We are fighting ideologies that destroy all human connection to reality. When — as Hannah Arendt wrote in Crises of the Republic — people no longer have relationships with other people, they are ripe for tyranny. When we abandon both the reality of experience, which comes through relationships, and reality of thought, we are lost.
The ideal target of totalitarianism, Arendt wrote, isn’t someone who is sold out to tyranny. Who would be? We instinctively want to be free. The model subjects under totalitarian rule are “people for whom the distinction between fact and fiction (i.e., the reality of experience [human contact and relationships]) and the distinction between true and false (i.e., the standards of thought) no longer exist.”
This is the fight — to save people from isolation, which severs them from reality and sets them adrift in a dream of utopian fantasy, and to restore right thinking about reality. To succeed in that fight we must, therefore, foster the very things that prevent evil from stripping us of reality and the liberty that comes with it.
Through my recent experience, I was reminded of the necessity and reality of relationships — relationships built on truth and love. And because we fail at both, falling either to the side of truth and no love or love and no truth, we need the one thing that keeps these two in balance: grace.
We must show one another grace as we work to maintain the very relationships Leftist worldviews want to dismantle. We might win arguments, sell more books, make clever jabs on television, score points in a Twitter tirade, but it means nothing if we leave a trail of broken relationships in our wake.
This is what those who unleashed evil against me wanted; this is the goal of anyone who threatens commentators for speaking the truth — to silence us by making us too afraid to speak and to isolate us in our silence. They failed. What they meant for evil, God meant for good, and through the voices of those who showed their compassionate support, I experienced that good.