Certainly, if it’s moral failures you’re after, you can take your pick.
Just last week, after all, Republican senators finally admitted that President Donald Trump is guilty of the offenses for which he was impeached. They conceded this as they prepared to acquit him. Sen. Lamar Alexander assured us the president learned his lesson and won’t do it again. This, even though he once obstructed justice while being accused of obstructing justice.
Meantime Trump, who has made black athletes’ supposed disrespect for the national anthem a signature issue, demonstrated his own deep respect as the song was being performed prior to the Super Bowl. He goofed around and fidgeted like a 2-year-old on a caffeine high while the grown-ups stood solemnly, hands over their hearts.
Such affronts to what is proper and right are ubiquitous in the Trump years. So naturally, a prominent man of God decided on Feb. 2 that he’d had enough and pronounced himself morally offended.
By Jennifer Lopez’s backside.
Or maybe it was her frontside. Or it could have been Shakira’s backside or frontside. He wasn’t really specific. All we know for sure is that the evangelist Franklin Graham took to social media to declare that our sense of “moral decency” is “disappearing before our eyes” and that his Exhibit A was the Super Bowl halftime show in which the two singers, clad in skimpy outfits, gyrated through a hits medley.
Graham saw this as an example of the “sexual exploitation of women.” He declared himself “disappointed” in the NFL and in Pepsi, which sponsored the show.
And here, let us point out the obvious. Namely, that Graham’s professed concern about the sexual exploitation of women is, shall we say, inconsistent with his lockstep support of Trump, an adulterer, a consort of porn stars, a credibly accused sex criminal who once exhorted voters to turn out for a credibly accused child molester and a man whose most famous quote is a boast about grabbing women’s vaginas without invitation or permission.
On all this, Graham is largely mute, yet he bemoans “sexual exploitation” in a sexy dance routine?
Consider it superfluous proof that the right wing has gone hypocrisy blind.
But again, that’s the obvious part. Here’s the less obvious part: Why is it always sex? Why is it that conservatives only ever see a moral dimension, cause for moral indignation, in the evocation of this most natural and common of human activities?
Beg pardon, but is it not a moral concern when you rip babies from parents’ arms? When the planet burns? When hate crimes spike? When government steals ballots — and thus, voices — from vulnerable voters?
You’d think these would be moral issues, yet somehow, the right never frames them as such. Congress robs the poor to give to the rich, people are sick because being healthy costs too much, a black man in Mississippi is doing 12 years for possession of a cellphone — and there is nary a flicker of indignation from the likes of Graham. But let a barely sheathed buttock flicker across his screen, and he’s apoplectic?
Lord, have mercy. No, seriously, Lord. Have mercy.
Because, increasingly, this is not only a nation with no moral direction, but a nation that has no idea what being moral even looks like. Which is a sad crossroads for a people who once saw themselves as the embodiment — imperfect, to be sure — of all in the human experience that was brave and good and hopeful and aspirational and compassionate and free and right. And Graham is “disappointed?”
Join the club.
Pitts writes for the Miami Herald. His email address is email@example.com.