You’ve probably heard by now of the freelance writer who took umbrage at President Trump’s labeling of MS-13 gang members as “animals.” He Tweeted, “I would rather my daughter dated a member of MS-13 than a member of the Republican Party.” That statement ignited a small Twitter war in which the author in question berated his opponents as “chuds” by tweeting, “The chuds are mad at me again.”
I didn’t think too much of it when I first read the slur. I just passed it off as some term the guy made up. It took a day or two before it finally hit me. Growing up as a big fan of science fiction, I’ve seen my fair share of Grade-Z sci-fi movies. Some of these things were obviously filmed with a budget of under $1.98. Still, I used to eat them up like they were Hollywood Oscar winners.
One such movie was entitled, “C.H.U.D.” I won’t go into the specifics of the well-worn plot, but the acronym, C.H.U.D., stands for cannibalistic humanoid underground dwellers. Chuds were creatures who had once been people, but, after being exposed to too much radiation, became mutated beings that ate human flesh to survive. Sound familiar?
So here we have it. A guy berates the President for referring to violent gang members “animals” and then turns around to call his detractors “chuds.” Have you ever heard the phrase, “That’s like the pot calling the kettle black?” I’m pretty sure it applies here.
It’s really amazing how quickly we resort to name calling. Presidents do it, journalists do it, and many of us peons follow suit. Scripture is quite clear about how important a good name happens to be. It tells us that it’s more critical than silver or gold. So why do we stoop to something as low as verbal abuse—often as a first resort? We do it, I suppose, because it’s the easiest way to hurt and demean someone. Trash their name, their reputation, and you feel like the battle is half won. It’s also the easiest thing to do. Why work at attempting to actually win a debate?
Scripture indicates that the Apostle Paul used to debate those who held opposing religious and philosophical views. He was often quite unsuccessful. Still, he kept plugging away—sometimes to his detriment. In Acts 9:29 it says, “He talked and debated with the Hellenistic Jews, but they tried to kill him.” At least they didn’t resort to name-calling.
All kidding aside, many of our leaders like to refer in a negative way to what they call “the politics of personal destruction.” Like the Tweeting freelance writer, they’re often the ones who will turn around and attempt to destroy the names and reputations of their political opponents. Their words and actions are decidedly transparent, yet we allow them to get away with it.
It would behoove us to attain to a higher standard. Unfortunately, the only way we can do that is to begin with ourselves.
[Dave Zuchelli is a graduate of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and currently resides in Aldie, VA.]