You’ll be shocked to learn that Joe Scarborough is totally behind Donald Trump after he faced criticism from Pope Francis Thursday.
The same pope who asks rightly asks “Who am I to judge?” says a man isn’t a Christian if he wants to keep illegal immigrants out of America?
— Joe Scarborough (@JoeNBC) February 18, 2016
— Joe Scarborough (@JoeNBC) February 18, 2016
Scarborough’s second take is, coincidentally, the exact same point that Trump’s social manager tweeted only minutes earlier.
Amazing comments from the Pope- considering Vatican City is 100% surrounded by massive walls. pic.twitter.com/g3iVLDVGe5
— Dan Scavino (@DanScavino) February 18, 2016
Right off the bat, it simply isn’t the case that the Vatican is surrounded on all sides by walls. Anyone whose visited the Vatican could tell you that visitors can pass freely from Rome into Vatican City with minimal hassle. The only “wall” in front of St. Peter’s Square is a barricade to keep vehicles out.
Here’s a picture of at least one superhuman who managed to scale the Vatican’s walls.
— Zach Pippin (@zachpippin) February 18, 2016
Regardless, I think Scarborough and everyone else who tweeted the idiotic “But the Vatican has walls!” meme is intentionally missing the point. Here’s the Pope’s full statement:
A person who thinks only about building walls, wherever they may be, and not building bridges, is not Christian. This is not in the Gospel. As far as what you said about whether I would advise to vote or not to vote, I am not going to get involved in that. I say only that this man is not Christian if he said things like that. We must see if he said things in that way, and in this I give the benefit of the doubt.
Now there are two ways to interpret this. The first is that Pope Francis is literally condemning the notion of brick-and-mortar walls anywhere and everywhere, and is calling for Christians to build literal brick-and-mortar bridges across the Rio Grande in some sort of mass public works program, because that’s what the Gospel of Jesus Christ instructs us to do. (Hey, he was a carpenter).
Or maybe he was speaking figuratively. Maybe his beef with Trump’s wall isn’t that is a wall, but that he justifies using it xenophobic language, condemns an entire class of people as rapists and murderers, and uses it to build a metaphorical wall between people. Maybe he was saying the Christian thing to do is to reach out to the least among us, the strangers in a strange land, and feel genuine compassion towards them. Maybe, just maybe, he was making the point that Trump has never even pretended to fake the love God calls on us to feel towards our fellow men, and even if the charlatan who runs Liberty University doesn’t think so, that’s a good reason to doubt the sincerity of his professed Christian faith.
I don’t about you, but I’m preeeetty sure it was the second one.
Scarborough’s just plain wrong when he sees this as a knock on everyone who opposes illegal immigration. For one thing, the Pope knocked those who “think only about building walls.” Even if you take him literally, that’s a indictment of Trump for sure, but not every border security advocate is a one-trick-pony. Plenty support securing the border in conjunction with other reforms to address the millions of illegal immigrants in the United States.
But more importantly, the Pope’s condemnation is only of those who want to build walls for the wrong reasons. Students of Catholic theology will tell you that its moral philosophy puts a great deal of emphasis on intent. Two people can can take the completely same position or do the same action, but the one who does so for wrong reasons is a sinner while the one who does it for the right reason is righteous. To use a biblical example, Jesus urged charity, while condemning those who donate to charity in a showy fashion to increase their social standing.
To illustrate this point, here’s Marco Rubio speaking about his refugee policy when asked about it by a pastor during his CNN town hall Wednesday (for the record, I could have just as easily picked Kasich or Bush or many others for the “good Christian” example, this is just the exchange that’s fresh in my mind):
PASTOR: My question is looking at [Ronald Reagan], and considering yourself to be a compassionate conservative, will you let more vetted, secured, refugees into this country? What will your plan be for this American tradition of refugee resettlement?
RUBIO: Yes, sir. I believe that America must always continue to be a place that allows people seeking refuge from political persecution and violence to come.
Here’s the difference between Reagan’s world, and the one we live in now, because policies have to reflect the times in which you live. When Ronald Reagan was President of the United States, there did not exist a radical jihadist group that was attempting to use the immigration laws of other countries against those countries. And, that’s the threat we now face.
It’s the reason why, for example, in America there was a time in many communities when nobody locked their doors. Now everybody locks their doors. And, it isn’t because we hate people outside of our home, it’s because we love the people inside of our home.
Now when it comes to Syrian refugees, Rubio and Trump both support temporarily “building a wall.” But their reasoning and how they articulate it couldn’t be any more different. Rubio begins by reaffirming his commitment to taking care of the downtrodden, but notes that exceptions have to be made when lives are at risk. He explicitly denounces hatred of refugees, and calls his position an act of love. You can disagree with his stance, but his motives are at least noble.
How did Trump respond? By calling for a ban on all Muslims from any country and spreading feverish lies about how American Muslims supported the 9/11 attacks.
Now, Scarborough is a very intelligent man, capable of intelligent thought. I suspect he knows exactly what the Holy Father meant. But once again, his commitment to his viewers to provide accurate commentary took backseat to his commitment to pushing his favorite candidate.
By the way, Mediaite reached out to MSNBC asking whether they wanted to comment on Scarborough’s continued and blatant advocacy for Trump. We’ve reproduced the full response below:
We’ll update you if we hear more.
[Image via screengrab]
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This is an opinion piece. The views expressed in this article are those of just the author.