It is a simple statement that -” it is what it is”. Why it is so controversial should be a subject of conversation. The political class is still screaming about the presidents use of the phrase when dealing with the number of deaths from the virus. The political interest in the statement happened a long time ago what a British theologian and politician made the statement that “a thing is what it is and it is not something else”.  Butler is also studied for his philosophy, and it is anchored in natural law.  According to the internet encyclopedia –

“Overall, Butler’s philosophy is largely defensive. His general strategy is to accept the received systems of morality and religion and, then, defend them against those who think that such systems can be refuted or disregarded. Butler ultimately attempts to naturalize morality and religion, though not in an overly reductive way, by showing that they are essential components of nature and common life. He argues that nature is a moral system to which humans are adapted via conscience. Thus, in denying morality, Butler takes his opponents to be denying our very nature, which is untenable. Given this conception of nature as a moral system and certain proofs of God’s existence, Butler is then in a position to defend religion by addressing objections to it, such as the problem of evil.”

Butlers statement that a thing is what it is seems obvious and simple.  On the face of it it should make sense that a peaceful protest is not a riot, and a riot cannot be explained as a peaceful protest. It sounds simple unless you have an agenda.  For some reason we have come to the point where calling something what it is not is supposed to make justice reign. Taken gender assignments not as what they are we now have 52 ways of calling them something they are not.  Taxes are not what they are; they are contributions.  Government spending becomes “investment”.

The reaction to a remark that the death total from the Chinese virus “is what it is” was so over the top that an observer without investment in politics would be shocked.    This use of language has political and theological ramifications.  It also needs to be recognized that Bishop Butler was not the first to make a statement like this and that’s why there is more coming.