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Monday, July 30, 2012

What Did Metaxas mean by "bullets"?

The author and journalist Frederick Clarkson has taken the conversation about Eric Metaxas and the HHS Mandate in a different direction by interpreting a speech by Metaxas differently than I did. Here is the paragraph from Metaxas’ speech at the Catholic Information Center in DC:

“This HHS mandate” situation he said “is so oddly similar to where Bonhoeffer found himself” early in the Nazi era. “If we don’t fight now,” Metaxas warned,
“if we don’t really use all our bullets now, we will have no fight five years from now. It’ll be over. This it. We’ve got to die on this hill. Most people say, oh no, this isn’t serious enough. Its just this little issue. But it’s the millimeter... its that line that we cross. I’m sorry to say that I see these parallels. I really wish I didn’t.”

Fred ties this revolutionary language into a broader context of conservative rhetoric that invites violence. I am not sure that I agree with him. I interpreted Metaxas to be speaking metaphorically in the paragraph sited. However, I wonder if I have viewed the quote that way because I was inclined to give him the benefit of the doubt. It would certainly fit with Metaxas’ focus on Bonhoeffer, the man who attempted to assassinate Hitler, to view his call to bullets and “die on this hill” literally, but I don’t think that was his intent. I still think I was right to interpret his language as a call to skip nuance, fight verbally with every last extreme language possible, and leave the careful language for after the "crisis". What I can say is that Metaxas’ lack of clarity in using this kind of language is troubling.

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