Today’s The Feast Day Of St. Maximillian Kolbe. Here’s What He Can Teach Us About Neo-Nazis And Antifa.

Chris Stefanick posted a moving video this morning of himself standing in Auschwitz, telling the story of Fr. Maximillian Kolbe, whose feast day is today.

His memory stands in stark contrast to the violence we saw in Virginia over the weekend, perpetrated by two groups of extremists that have made hateful rhetoric and actions central to the means by which they carry out their missions.

You can watch the video here.

From the moment Virginia declared a state of emergency on Saturday, the steady stream of Facebook posts, tweets, and general commentary from everyone from politicians to personal friends has been almost overwhelming. It seems everyone has an opinion on who bears the greatest responsibility, and that’s entirely fair—when a life is lost the way one was on Saturday, a national conversation surrounding what could’ve prevented it seems to be the only appropriate response.

All of that being said, I’ve seen hardly any mention of God or faith in any of these opinions. Of course we should condemn racism. Of course we should condemn violence. But what is at the root, here? Why is it that we’re suddenly reacting so angrily—and violently—to differing viewpoints?

Most would tell you it’s Trump, but it’s not. I’ll never forget the last-minute road trip I made with two friends down to Louisiana for the 2014 senatorial runoff election—we listened to tail end reports of Ferguson unrest for much of the way down. This was long before the Trump phenomenon, yet we’ve placed the blame for this sudden civil discourse entirely on his shoulders.

Has he contributed? I’m not sure. But here’s what I can say with surety:

I’ll never be convinced that violent, hateful unrest like what we saw on Saturday is anything other than the product of a lack of God in our society. A lack of peace out in the world is a reflection of a lack of peace in the hearts of those involved. When we meet aggression with aggression and violence with violence, we exhibit a lack of faith in Christ and a separation from the suffering and persecution He endured during His time on earth. The peace required to face such aggression with humility, courage, and love for other human beings can only be acquired through a genuine encounter with the Lord in our hearts. If we do not have that peace within, we cannot exhibit it out in the world.

Maximillian Kolbe is such a moving, remarkable example of this peace. Stefanick explains in his video above that during his time in Auschwitz, St. Maximillian volunteered to take the place of a husband and father who’d been sent away to starve to death in a dark, locked room. This faithful, humble Catholic priest had such peace in his heart that he met the aggression of the Nazis with the ultimate sacrifice—the offering of his life. And Stefanick adds that the Nazi Commander trembled in his presence.

St. Maximillian lived in that room, starving, for twelve days. The Nazis finally ended his starvation with a lethal injection that took his life. And other camp members who knew him and what he’d done responded to his martyrdom by singing hymns throughout the camp.

This is a man who knew peace in his heart. This is a man who knew the love of Christ.

We cannot and will not deliver our country from this violence without this same sense of peace and this same faith in God’s love. On this feast day of Fr. Maximillian Kolbe, let us remember that.

The Monika Lewinsky Effect: Questioning Our Approach To Kathy Griffin’s Controversial Image

The morning that Kathy Griffin released the photo of herself holding a bloody mask of President Trump, I was watching Monika Lewinsky’s 1999 interview with Barbara Walters (I literally cannot even remember how this happened—I fell down a very deep Youtube hole, idk). One of links that Youtube recommended when the 80-minute interview was over was Lewinsky’s much-more-recent TED talk on cyberbullying, and the role her story played in how we use the internet today (she refers to herself as “Patient Zero” of the internet crucifixion culture we’ve grown accustomed to since then).

So as I’ve observed coverage of Griffin play out, and as I watched her apology video, and then her press conference, I’ve been thinking a lot about Monika Lewinsky. Lol. I know, maybe bizarre.

But there is something to this.

Kathy Griffin took her situation to the next level last week when she cried at the podium of a nationally televised press conference over the consequences of her own poor decision-making skills.

A lot was said that wasn’t true, much of it by her lawyer, Lisa Bloom, who’s a famous (infamous?) civil rights lawyer, most recently known for her public take-down of Bill O’Reilly on Fox News.

But there was also a lot said that did have truth to it—claims to Griffin’s right to free speech, for starters. And what I’m about to say will inevitably be an unpopular opinion, but hear me out: as Americans, we should not pride ourselves on our freedom of speech if we do not also enact it.

Here’s what I mean:

A number of conservative speakers have been forcefully denied access to college campuses because of pushback by the universities, kicking and screaming (and in some instances, more serious violence) by protestors, and a general blowback on the internet for their message and ideas.

And the conservative side of the aisle is (rightfully) critical of this. They say liberal university administrators and lefty activists are stifling people who have a right by the First Amendment to say whatever it is they want to say when they’re invited to speak at these campuses. Conservatives say that denying them that right is an attack on the American values we hold so dear.

I’m willing to make the argument that Kathy Griffin could and should be lumped in with the Ann Coulters, Ben Shapiros, and Ryan T. Andersons of this narrative.

Griffin is the most recent subject of this trend in our country that’s stamping out the First Amendment. True to her grotesque sense of humor, Griffin created an image that offended the vast majority of people who saw it. It’s clear some people were not offended, however, because just as she took the image down, it had already garnered thousands of retweets and shares on social media (everyone knows a retweet presented without comment is totally an endorsement, come on). Now I, in absolutely no way, support or agree with the image she made—nevertheless, her right to make it is protected under the First Amendment. By way of the law, she did nothing wrong.

That didn’t stop social media users, and politicians, and journalists, and the Trump family… from calling for her to be fired from her job, dropped from her contracts, and boycotted pretty much across the board. And I suppose that just as Griffin owns a right to free speech, so do all of the people I listed above. They’re free to pressure CNN to do that. But just the same—is it right?

I don’t agree with Kathy Griffin, nor do I especially like her… but does that make it right to assault her via the internet the way so many of us did? Here’s where I think of Monika Lewinsky, who’s been the butt of jokes on the internet before the word “meme” was even in the dictionary. There is so much power in the small gesture of a keystroke. We wield so much opportunity when we post online—and those people who have a following beyond their own circle of family and friends have an even greater responsibility.

It’s time to take responsibility, and for all of it. Griffin should have been more responsible with the broad audience that she has access to. But does her wrong justify our right to annihilate her for it?

I think that’s something for us to think about.

The Quiet Confidence Of Ivanka Trump

I’m continuously impressed with Ivanka Trump and how well she carries herself, even when met with the most humiliating and hostile sentiments of those around her.

This photo was taken today at a women’s summit in Germany, where she was booed and “hissed” at (do women seriously hiss at other women? that’s grotesque) for referring to her father as a “champion of supporting families and enabling them to thrive.”

The moderator of the panel acknowledged the hostility of the crowd and confronted Ivanka, saying, “You hear the reaction from the audience. I need to address one more point—some attitudes toward women your father has displayed might leave one questioning whether he’s such an empower-er for women.”

And once more, we witness her incredibly poised demeanor in the well-spoken and gracious response she gave (per POLITICO):

“As a daughter, I can speak on a very personal level,” Ivanka Trump said. “I grew up in a house where there was no barrier to what I could accomplish beyond my own perseverance and tenacity. That’s not an easy thing to do; he provided that for us.” She said that her father treated her exactly the same way he treated her two brothers, who now run the family business. “There was no difference,” she said.

Her tone was not defensive, nor did she so much as grimace at the question she received. There’s a level of self-awareness and restraint here that we fail to give her credit for.

It’s very easy for us, as both consumers of the mainstream media and American voters, to forget that these people are just that—they’re people.

When we think of Donald Trump and his relationship with women at this point in history, our minds jump immediately to the recording released prior to the election of his conversation with Billy Bush. The things that were said were shameful, wrong, and have no place in American society, let alone American politics. It is appropriate to acknowledge that and to hold him accountable for what he said.

Nevertheless, as a daughter myself, I observe Ivanka’s willingness to stand by her father with admiration. She has not defended his behavior, which would be wrong—rather, she’s chosen to remain loyal despite his character, however deeply flawed it might prove to be.

I fight the urge to compare her to Chelsea Clinton as a public figure because I think my bias in comparing them would be obvious. Nevertheless, it’s worth noting that the media approaches the two women from very different angles. While some outlets continue to, for all intents and purposes, plead Chelsea Clinton into a campaign announcement, Ivanka’s media coverage from those same outlets is critical, negative, and maintains, however subtlety, that she should be personally held responsible for her father’s splintered relationship with the female gender because she, herself, is female.

This is a difficult position to place a man’s daughter in. I struggle to recall a time that Chelsea Clinton has ever been asked to defend her own father’s promiscuity, and the one time I can recall was met with such aggressive criticism by the mainstream media that no one ever dared ask such a question again. And while she is placed on a pedestal, Ivanka is “hissed” at by her fellow woman, even as she speaks of promoting women and families at a public forum.

I was especially impressed with Ivanka in her interview with Gayle King earlier this month. King asked Ivanka if she had a response to critics who accused her of being “complicit.” Her response was commendable (via CBS):

“I would say not to conflate lack of public denouncement with silence. I think there are multiple ways to have your voice heard. In some case it’s through protest and it’s through going on the nightly news and talking about or denouncing every issue in which you disagree with. Other times it is quietly, and directly, and candidly. So where I disagree with my father, he knows it, and I express myself with total candor. Where I agree, I fully lean in and support the agenda and, and hope, uh, that I can be an asset to him and make a positive impact. But I respect the fact that he always listens. It’s how he was in business. It’s how he is as president.”

And in this one statement alone, we witness the quiet confidence of Ivanka Trump. She feels no need to justify herself to the public, and there’s something to be said for that level of self-assurance. It is clear she does not receive validation from the American people, which is important: it means her commitment to her values is not contingent on the approval of others. This is remarkable.

I fear that women are missing out on an incredible role model by so quickly jumping to criticize Ivanka. Many could say—and probably do say—that her loyalty to the President is self-serving, or necessary for her own professional success. I see it differently.

Ivanka has earned what she’s built. While I recognize the opportunities that inevitably come hand-in-hand with having the name ‘Trump’ on your birth certificate, she’s not been given all that she has. She is educated, professional, and successful by her own right. And yet, she has chosen to leave her empire behind (in some sense) to serve her father and the public in the White House.

How many celebrities are estranged from their famous family members? How many women wrestle with their self-worth (or lack thereof)? And how many experience behavioral crises at the hand of their damaging fathers?

It is clear Ivanka Trump is not one of those women. So why are we so quick to condemn her?

I’m a 24-year-old Catholic woman and I’m voting for Donald Trump.

This morning, I woke up in an American flag hoodie with “Make American Great Again” printed across the front. I stayed in bed surfing Twitter for a while, reading the news and simultaneously reaching over to pet Howie, who was laying next to me. Donald Trump is mentioned in probably half of the tweets on my feed most of the time, but I don’t cringe at seeing his name anymore. Usually, I just keep scrolling.

Actually, I found this hoodie online while I was doing exactly this—laying in bed next to Howie, scrolling through social media. I came across a photo of Bristol Palin wearing this sweet American flag sweatshirt and immediately went on the hunt to find it. An Etsy shop out of Florida was selling them. I said to myself, “when the day comes that I make peace with having to vote for Trump, I’m buying that sweatshirt.”

And 44 days out from election day, here I am, wearing it.

It’s no secret that Donald Trump was not my first choice for president. In fact, I’ve been a real brat about it. I’ve complained, kicked and screamed, thrown an absolute tantrum over having him as our party’s nominee instead of Carly Fiorina or Marco Rubio (or anyone else for that matter). Trump has elicited more emotions from me than probably any other politician ever (except maybe Trey Radel) and when he clinched the nomination in May, I felt things that a healthy, well-adjusted person probably should not feel as a result of a political outcome. Since then, though, I’ve calmed down.

I’ve never been “never Trump.” Quite frankly, the people who’ve said they’d rather not vote than vote Trump are either 1) living outside of reality, or 2) just don’t really understand politics.

As for those “conservatives” who are voting for Hillary Clinton this cycle—good riddance to you. Your priorities clearly don’t lie with conservative values, and that’s fine. I’m glad you’re no longer pretending.

Elections are a numbers game. Behind every politician is a handful of political operatives poring over voter data, putting precinct household numbers into a calculator, and trying to devise a plan to get X number of people to show up to the polls and vote for their candidate on election day. (Where things get sticky is when these same operatives realize it’s going to cost them X number of dollars to get X number of people out to the polls—that’s when donor checkbooks come out and Americans get pissed. I digress…)

What many of us seem to be forgetting (or perhaps simply don’t realize) is that enthusiasm for the top of the ticket drives success for the rest of the ticket. This means that if voters are excited about a particular presidential candidate, they’re much more likely to show up to the polls and thereby more likely to cast a vote for other federal, state, and local candidates. These races matter just as much as the presidential race, if not more, and they’re much more likely to have a direct impact on you and on your life.

We have some absolutely incredible candidates down-ticket this election cycle. My boss is running for Congress. She’s a mom, a Christian, and is committed to improving upward mobility in this country. She’s concerned about ISIS and our national security, and has the business sense to know our economy would be better if government got out of the way. We’ve got to do our part to get candidates like her elected—and part of that requires we throw weight behind Donald Trump.

While it’s unfortunate that Trump is the face of our party this cycle, he does not define the conservative movement. Our movement is defined by the values and principles that this country was founded on—not by the ramblings of a goofy NY businessman with bad hair and a big ego. This is important, because just as Trump’s name is on the ballot on November 8, so are the values of our party. The choice at hand is much larger and bears much more weight than simply choosing one name over another.

The conservative movement has made great strides the past few cycles. With control of the House and control of the Senate, we’re set up to put our nation back on track, if only the right person is elected POTUS. Hillary Clinton is not that person. In fact, a Hillary Clinton victory will inevitably mean seceding much of the ground we’ve gained. We cannot let that happen.

Donald Trump is a far from perfect person, as is he a far from perfect candidate. But this is the hand we’ve been dealt. Politics, much like life, often requires that we bite our tongues, quit complaining, and do stuff we don’t want to do. In this instance, voting for Donald Trump falls under that category.

The Pro-Life cause knows this premise well. Time and time again, we have settled for small progress and have accepted victories that have been, on occasion, disguised as failures. In forty years since the passage of Roe v. Wade, we’ve moved the needle FAR (and won millions of hearts in the process). Success is still success, no matter the package it’s delivered in.

In an ideal world, a third party candidate would step up, rally the troops, and we’d get to watch the largest political upset in the history of our country unfold on November 8. Unfortunately, though, this is the real world, where that isn’t going to happen. It’s just not. You can “vote your conscience” ’til the cows come home, but you’ll be disappointed either way.

You don’t have to love Donald Trump to vote for him. You don’t even have to like him. But if you’re a true conservative, and you believe in the values and the principles our nation was founded on, you do have to vote for him. Other races need that momentum, and he’s our best shot at a victory—even if that victory is disguised as a failure.

Plus like, what are you holding out for, anyway? A savior? We’ve got one of those. He died on a cross.