Brutality isn’t strength. Nor is it masculinity. I should be surprised by right-wing gullibility in the face of “masculine” Russian propaganda, but I’m not. We’ve spent the last seven years watching the MAGA movement absurdly recast Donald Trump as a defender of American masculinity and Trumpism as an inherently masculine political movement. Bullies look strong. They strut and peacock. Russians bomb civilians. They rape women. They loot empty homes. They’re ruthless. They make commercials casting themselves as fearless, fearsome warriors. And now they’re fleeing by the thousands, thrown into headlong retreat by a far smaller nation, fighting with a fraction of the resources, in one of the most shocking military setbacks in modern times. Brutality is meeting courage, and courage prevails.
Russia is not America. We have too many checks and balances for any person to assume Putin-like control over the United States. But those who see the left as an existential threat, who seek ever-greater Christian power to punish their enemies, and who believe character is optional (or an outright luxury) in leaders should look across the Atlantic. Fields of burning tanks, throngs of fleeing civilians, and shouts of “holy war” to listless crowds should remind us all that the health of the church is not rooted in the authority of the state. The failures of Putin’s brutal Christian nationalism serve as a terrible reminder that the cannonade contradicts the spirit of the cross, and that only sacrificial love can truly redeem a land that is lost.