Here is another curious example of a related phenomenon: the habit of vice-signaling to confederates (in more senses than one) while pretending to deny one is saying exactly what everybody knows you are saying.
John Zmirak is a noted hater of Pope Francis who clearly despises him. Recently, my friend Tony Annett asked him a straightforward question and was promptly blocked by Zmirak on Twitter:
Zmirak, in contrast, cranks out Reactionary weirdness over at The Stream and longs to claim the One Ring for his own so he can rev up the firing squads and gulags for his many, many enemies:
Anyway, what was striking was that after blocking Annett, he then wrote this characteristically MAGA winking “denial” which suggested that Annett was somehow a persecuting inquisitor for asking the question, even as Zmirak made extremely clear that he does reject Francis as pope and that he rejects the Church as well:
The tweet was followed by a long string of high fives, amens, “The pope is a heretic and can go to hell”, etc. affirmations from a string of fellow Reactionaries.
What is fascinating to me about the psychological dynamics at work is the curious betwixt and betweenness of it. They want to claim the mantle of Real and Only True Catholic and exclude the rest of the Church, including the Pope himself. But at some level they know this is a fundamentally absurd position. So they talk as though it Annett is somehow a persecutor or accuser for asking a straightforward question which they, in fact, answer in the affirmative, thereby rejecting the Church’s abundantly clear teaching about union with the Holy Father as essential to being, you know, Catholic.
Unsurprisingly, such ambiguous mealy-mouthism is a MAGA trait seen again and again. Donald Trump calls Nazis “very fine people” and then the Cult denies he said it while also calling people marching under the banner of the swastika “patriots”. Goons invade the Capitol in open revolt against the US and the Cult tries to blame “Antifa” while lionizing the invaders as heroes. Over and over, the winking, nodding vice-signaling of the Cult tries to both deny and affirm what it is too cowardly to just come right out and say. Such crouching in shadow and tergiversation inspires no trust.