Eric Metaxas Plans to Interview Steve Bannon – Yawn?

What’s going on? The New Yorker planned to interview former Donald Trump strategist, alt-right leader, and nativist Steve Bannon at one of their events and social media erupted with protest and cancellations of subscriptions. Within hours, the magazine canceled Bannon’s talk and said sorry.

In reaction on a recent segment of his radio show, Trump cheerleader and evangelical author Eric Metaxas extended an interview invitation to Bannon and not much happened. On that same show, Metaxas hosted alt-right queen Ann Coulter. Mr. Metaxas has had Ms. Coulter on his show for friendly interviews before.

Metaxas considers Brit alt-right poster girl Katie Hopkins his “hero.” Milo Yiannopolis has been his friendly guest as well.

These are not interviews which challenge the guests on their alt-rightness.

Obviously, it is his show, he can do what he wants. I am just surprised that there is no backlash or consequence for going full alt-right. Mainstream Christians will continue going on the show as if nothing else is going on in the culture.

Nothing to see here.

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Eric Metaxas Defends Donald Trump Against Charges He Ridiculed a Disabled Reporter

Today, Eric Metaxas went on full Trump defense. Most recently, he tweeted:

Personally, I think the possible comparison is to Musolini but all of this is debatable and the jury is still out. I will add that Metaxas should clean up his own house before he scolds anyone about historical knowledge (when will Metaxas issue a retraction on the spurious Bonhoeffer quote he has promoted for years?).
However, what caught my eye was his retweet of Ann Coulter’s justification of Trump’s mocking references to New York Time reporter Serge Kovaleski. In her column yesterday, Coulter refers readers to footage of Trump also mocking a General and Ted Cruz. She claims the footage proves that Trump did not mock Kovaleski’s disability. Metaxas retweeted it with this message.

Scary, indeed.
What makes Metaxas’ defense of both Trump and Coulter astonishing is how Coulter defends Trump in her new book. In that book, she claims Trump was not mocking the reporting due to his disability, but because he clarified earlier reporting on Muslim response after the 9-11 attack on the World Trade Center. She said Trump was just doing a “standard retard” in order to mock Kovaleski. Make sure you read the sentence with the word “retard” highlighted in yellow.
Coulter Retard
Standard retard? Apparently, Coulter thinks having a standard move to mock intellectually disabled people is more acceptable than tailoring one’s ridicule to individual disabilities.
I ask myself: Why is Eric Metaxas recommending Coulter’s defense of Trump making fun of anyone? Because Trump used his “standard retard” to ridicule three people, it is somehow better than using it to make fun of one disabled reporter? I am truly confused by how this justification of inexcusable behavior can be considered the kind of virtue that Metaxas hawks in his new book.
Did Trump Ridicule a Disabled Reporter?

I watched the clips Coulter recommended and I don’t think it is as clear as she does.
First, she doesn’t address why Trump said he didn’t know the reporter when in fact he did. Trump said he was a nice person and told the crowd before he launched into his mocking routine that “you gotta see this guy” referring to Kovaleski. Trump then accused the reporter of using his disability to grandstand (see the Politifact article on these points).
Also, Trump is much more animated and draws his arms up to his body (akin to Kovaleski’s disability) while flailing around when he is mocking Kovaleski more so than when he mocks the General and Ted Cruz. I have embedded the videos below. Watch and decide for yourself.
Trump on Serge Kovaleski and the General:
Trump on Ted Cruz (which this excellent piece points out is three months later! Reporters could not have ignored the response to Cruz since it hadn’t happened yet.)
Whether Trump singled out Kovaleski or was “doing a standard retard” doesn’t matter much to me. It is a very Sad! day when political pressures lead to defense of the indefensible.

Eric Metaxas Blows Off Historical Errors in His New Book

With Ann Coulter on his Monday radio show, Eric Metaxas seemed stunned that historians would critique his new book, If You Can Keep It. Coulter warned people that her new book would likely contain errors and Metaxas jumped off of that comment to complain that people have written essays about the errors in his book. Listen at 1:02:

He acknowledges that he got religious liberty in the colonial period wrong but implies he could change a sentence around to make it accurate. He glosses over his error by implying he only got it wrong in one sentence (not so, see this post). He also claims he is correct in his interpretation of John Winthrop’s “City of a Hill” speech. I think historians John Fea and Tracy McKenzie would enjoy hearing his defense.

Without naming him, Metaxas mentioned Fea’s six-part series critiquing the book. He seems amazed that his errors deserve scrutiny.

I am amazed that he is amazed.

The sorry state of books by Christian celebrities is illustrated by this exchange. Coulter and her publisher are going into print without sufficient fact-checking. Metaxas jumps right in and seems bewildered that Christian readers would expect that a book using history to make a case should be historically accurate.

Metaxas is happy to take the adulation of his readers who don’t know any better, but he is dismissive of those who point out reasonable critiques. On twitter, he has blocked me and several others who have brought these things to his attention. From this response, it seems to me that he doesn’t care that thousands of readers will need to unlearn the factual errors they have trusted in his book.

For more on the controversy surrounding Metaxas’ new book, see the following sources:
John Fea’s series
Tracy McKensie’s blog
Gregg Frazer’s review
My article in the Daily Caller
My blog posts addressing the errors

Eric Metaxas and Ann Coulter Agree: #Nevertrumpers Don't Want Trump Because He is Too Common

Of all the rationalizations for Trump I have heard, the conversation between Eric Metaxas and Ann Coulter is the most scandaleux.
Today, Ann Coulter was on Metaxas’ show and the conversation got around to Donald Trump. Metaxas tripled down on his support for Trump. For her part, Coulter again referred to the 1965 immigration reform as the source of our current immigration problems. In the process, Metaxas told the audience his parents came from Greece in the 1950s. Lucky them. Prior to the 1965 immigration bill, immigration from Greece was restricted. The 1965 immigration reform demonized by Coulter expanded immigration from Greece as well as other eastern and southern European nations.
Trump, the Poor Man’s Rich Guy
At 32:56 into hour one with Ann Coulter, Metaxas talked about Trump’s appeal to working people. Metaxas told Coulter that Trump doesn’t seem like a plutocrat and is comfortable spending time on construction sites because that where he has spent most of his time. Coulter then said that Trump has always been like that. She said in 1988 Trump said he didn’t get along with “the fancy rich people.” The strangeness continued:

Metaxas: Trump is the classic nouveau riche in the sense that the elite want to sneer at people like that. And people like that are so disturbing to the cultural elites that the ideal that someone like this could be potentially president, it’s very upsetting. You see that on the left and on the right and again this is independent of policy stuff.
Coulter: You are absolutely 100% right about that. That’s a lot of what the “never trump” animus comes from.
Metaxas: Yeah
Coulter: …because it isn’t logical. Whenever people aren’t giving you logical arguments, I’m mean I’m not one to go around looking for motives, but they’re perfectly clear in this case with the sneering and the spluttering and the sighing. They aren’t trying to make a factual argument, it’s just, ‘he’s so déclassé’.
Metaxas: Right, right.

Of course. How could I have missed that in myself?
Probably, that is what is going on with the hundreds (and growing) of delegates who want to vote their conscience at the GOP convention. They feel so above the Donald.
What Metaxas said might be more accurate about Trump’s father, but not Trump. Trump had quite a significant head start on his current wealth. Given the lavish lifestyle Trump has lived, it seems impossible to believe that anyone has ever complained about having a “déclassé'” president. If anything, Trump has been part of the cultural elite class. He has bragged about using his money to buy politicians, including the attorney general of Florida.
I suspect Trump has spent time on construction sites. Probably though, he should have spent more time on them. According to past building contractors with the Trump organization, he hasn’t paid many of his construction contractors. In Atlantic City, Trump is known for failure to pay on time and full price. USA Today found hundreds of liens and lawsuits where prompt and full payment was an issue. While Trump hasn’t lost them all, he has lost plenty. According to USA Today’s, New Jersey’s Casino Control Commission records in 1990 demonstrate that at least 253 subcontractors weren’t paid in full or in a timely manner.
If anything is classic about the exchange on Metaxas’ show, it is an illustration of rationalization and confirmation bias.
Au contraire Metaxas and Coulter, the factual arguments have been made (many times, e.g. here). Neither of you like them. That is fine, but one of you is out hawking a book that claims America is screwed if we don’t return to virtue. So let’s drop the silly notion that Trump’s opponents are snooty old moneyed rich people who look down on Trump the rich common man.
To paraphrase Coulter, using French words is not an argument.

Eric Metaxas and Ann Coulter Agree: Donald Trump Must Be Elected

Ann Coulter dropped by the Eric Metaxas Show to rant about third world immigrants and promote Donald Trump. By and large, Metaxas agreed with her.

You can listen to the entire broadcast at Soundcloud and on Coulter’s You Tube account. The segment with Coulter begins at 10:44.  Rather than provide a transcript, I will just describe the segment. If Eric Metaxas endorsing both Ann Coulter and Donald Trump is something that is of interest to you, then you will want to hear it for yourself.

While bordering on being incoherent, I think Coulter tried to sell an analogy from Nazis to Muslims in her opening statements. She noted that we did allow Germans to come into the country in WWII but we got technology out of the deal. She wondered what we are getting out of current Muslim immigration. Metaxas seemed a little befuddled and asked Coulter to clarify her statements. She then said that the Orlando shooter Omar Mateen was not an American (even though he was born in New York) because his parents came from Afghanistan.

She then blamed the presence of non-European immigrants on Teddy Kennedy. Specifically, she referred to immigration reform supported by Kennedy (The Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965). Previously, immigration from Africa, Asia, and eastern Europe was restricted in favor of immigration from western Europe. This law changed the quotas to allow the entrance of immigrants who Coulter disparagingly referred to as “hoards of the third world.”

According to Coulter, the Democrats had political reasons for wanting to change the immigration laws:

The Democrats looked around the country, they realized they couldn’t get Americans to vote for them, so they decided to bring in hoards of the third world, and the third world, as you beautifully described in your opening, have very different ideas than those of us who came from the Magna Carta, the glorious revolution, the Declaration of Independence. That’s our culture. They have a different culture that has a different view of human life but it helps the Democrats at the ballot box.

She said the bill cut off immigration from western Europe, the people who “traditionally populated this country.” She denied the proposition that the U.S. is a nation of immigrants but told Metaxas that we have been overrun with “cheap labor” from the third world who hate the country.

Who Favored the 1965 Immigration Reform?
In fact, a higher percentage of Republicans than Democrats in Congress voted for the 1965 immigration bill. Most of the opposition to the bill came from southern Democrats who did not want to upset the ethnic profile of the nation. Coulter has to revise history to provide fuel for her ranting. Later in the broadcast, she again blamed Teddy Kennedy for a bill that more Republicans than Democrats in 1965 supported. There was a time when the GOP was the party of Lincoln.

Metaxas then took the conversation in the direction of support for Trump. Coulter claimed that Trump is the only hope to address the immigration problem. Metaxas agreed. He said the flaws in Trump are outweighed by the fact that he may get to name conservative judges. Metaxas said we might go off a cliff and die if someone besides Trump is elected.

Then, after complaining about California, they talk about the wisdom of having bar patrons carry guns to prevent mass shootings. From there, the conversation covered the usual pros and cons (mostly cons) of gun control. On one hand, Coulter minimized the harm guns might do but then said one gun in a bar might have saved the day.

The segment closed with Metaxas and Coulter lamenting how badly Trump is being treated in the press. What a shame that a free press reports the facts about Mr. Trump. Coulter and Metaxas have special criticism for Mitt Romney since Romney has led the #nevertrump charge. They seem to agree that Romney has some psychological problem (e.g., pathological envy?) which sets him against Trump. I think Romney is shocked that so many people who should know better are supporting Trump.

Metaxas and the Bonhoeffer Card
During part of the first ten minutes, Metaxas gave tribute to Dietrich Bonhoeffer. This is ironic to me in that he then pivoted to his guest Ann Coulter and their mutual support for Donald Trump. For me, following Bonhoeffer’s example means rejecting a Trump nomination. The GOP delegates would emulate Bonhoeffer if they worked to nominate another candidate to run against Clinton. When it comes to Metaxas, I agree with this fellow: