What began as a friendly conversation between Megyn Kelly and Newt Gingrich quickly escalated to a heated exchange last Tuesday on Fox’s The Kelly Files.
The interview took a quick turn when Kelly stated that Donald Trump might be a “sexual predator.” That’s when Newt Gingrich, a Trump surrogate, went on the offensive.
Kelly: If Trump is a sexual predator….
Gingrich: He’s not a sexual predator.
Kelly: Okay, that’s your opinion.
Gringrich: You could not defend that statement. I’m sick and tired of people like you, using language that’s inflammatory that’s not true! … That’s exactly the bias that people are upset by.
Kelly: I think your defensiveness speaks volumes on this, sir.
They continued to debate the amount of time the media spends on Trump’s sexual behavior versus Hillary Clinton’s secrecy about her speeches. Then Gingrich claimed,
If you want to go back to the tapes of your shows recently, you are fascinated with sex and you don’t care about public policy. That’s what I get out of watching you tonight.
Kelly defended herself by saying, “I’m not fascinated by sex, but I am fascinated by the protection of women.” That led to another opportunity for Gingrich to slam his old political rival, Bill Clinton, stating that he is the true sexual predator.
Many people have pointed out the irony that Gingrich accused Kelly of being fascinated with sex. After all, Gingrich had an extramarital affair with a staffer while he was Speaker of the House and pushed to impeach Bill Clinton for lying about his affair.
Fascinated by sex, much?
I don’t know if Megyn Kelly is fascinated by sex, but the media as a whole certainly is. Juicy political sex scandals always get more air time than policy issues. Why? Because the cliché is true: sex sells. Is that Kelly’s fault? Is it the media’s fault? I’m afraid not. The media makes for a convenient scapegoat.
If it’s anyone’s fault, it’s our fault. I confess to you that that I’m fascinated with sex. It’s everywhere. I can’t go on the internet, turn on the television, or even drive down the street without seeing overtly sexual images.
Unless you live in a monastery somewhere in the middle of the desert, you are likely infected by our cultural fascination with sex, too. In a sense, we’re all a bit like Newt Gingrich, Bill Clinton, and Donald Trump.
As I read that last sentence, I must admit the obvious gender issue. Maybe it should read, “In a sense, all men are a bit like Newt Gingrich, Bill Clinton, and Donald Trump.”
There’s a dark side within all of us, especially when it comes to sexuality. As a man, I know this is especially true for my gender. And, as a man, I know that when we don’t admit that dark side within ourselves, we end up projecting it upon others.
René Girard, the great anthropologist of the 20th century, wrote with a keen depth into human psychology. This quote is particularly challenging, “At the source of the hatred of the Other there is the hatred of the Self.”*
That’s how hatred works. It begins within ourselves and then we project onto others. It is crucially important to call out injustice, in this case, sexual abuse, whenever we see it. And it’s just as important to not be consumed by hatred for another. If Girard is right, and I believe he is, then whenever we begin to hate someone else in our search for justice, it’s important that we also examine the darkness within ourselves. For in learning to love the darkness within ourselves, we can work for a more just world, while also loving the darkness within others.
Only as we work for justice in that spirit of love will we make the world a better place.
*See Rene Girard, Resurrection from the Underground, 57.