Politics & Policy

The Burdens of Thought Policing

(Dreamstime)
From gay weddings to Iran’s muscle-flexing, PC enforcers have a big job.

It is not easy being a contemporary thought policeman.

No sooner had the radical gay Left demonized the owners of an Indiana pizza parlor, which does not cater weddings, for suggesting that in theory they might not wish to cater a gay wedding than all sorts of stories surfaced saying that lots of Muslim eateries professed that they too would not cater gay weddings. What can the thought bullies do if one victim should victimize another?

Money complicates thought policing as well. The CEO of Apple is outraged at the thought crimes of Indiana pizza-parlor owners who offer his trillion-dollar company no chance of lucre — but he is not outraged at the concretely homophobic culture of the Middle East or the religious intolerance of China, which are hooked on i-products. Are theoretical sins worse than actual ones?

RELATED: RFRA: Not Like Jim Crow Laws at All

We are back in spirit to the scripted outrage of a few years ago at Mormons in California for supposedly voting down gay marriage on a ballot proposition — until exit polls suggested that the state’s black voters had proved as much opposed to gay marriage as the so-called Religious Right. Figuring out who is and who is not an enemy of the people, and so subject to banishment to the PC gulag, is as difficult as it was for the Stalinists in the 1930s to hound out the last Russian counterrevolutionaries.

In the George Zimmerman case, we have to give the thought police of the New York Times and NBC News some credit for matching the untiring zealousness of Inspector Javert. The Times invented a new rubric, “white Hispanic,” to preempt any competing Zimmerman claim on ethnic victimhood. NBC doctored a 911 tape to make Zimmerman sound like a foul racist. Other news outlets tried to Photoshop away police images that had shown a bleeding Zimmerman after the fight; in contrast, Trayvon Martin, who by the time of the confrontation was a tall teenager, was often seen in photos as a cuddly preteen in his football uniform. But finally even the thought police could not stop a supposedly poor, honest woman of color who was a witness for the defense, Rachel Jeantel, from testifying as an unapologetic racist (“creepy-ass white cracker”) and homophobe who seemed to confirm the defense’s argument that Martin started the fight (“whoop ass”).

RELATED: Moral Heroism Without Morality

In the Michael Brown case in Ferguson, Mo., a nearly-300-pound thug — who had just strong-armed a liquor store, walked down the middle of the road under the influence, and rushed and attacked a policeman — had to be transmogrified by the thought police into a “gentle giant.” When Big Brother got through with Brown, he had been gunned down in cold blood by a racist cop after pleading for his life with a final “hands up, don’t shoot.” The makeover almost worked — if it were not for a few honest eyewitnesses and the laws of ballistics and criminal forensics. Note one constant “true lies” theme of thought policing, whether in Ferguson or in the recent Rolling Stone rape-allegations caper: When exposed, falsifiers never apologize to their real victims, whether the smeared Officer Darren Wilson or the University of Virginia fraternity members. Instead, we are subjected to ends-justifying-the means throat clearing and worries that the lies may prevent discussion of real racism or actual rapes — as if the untruth at least served some social good by raising our awareness.

To believe the media’s acceptance of Hillary Clinton’s e-mail yarns, we would have to engage in mental gymnastics that would make Rose Mary Woods’s physical contortions during Watergate seem a trifle in comparison. Hillary sort of had four mobile devices, but also sort of had only one. Everyone knows you need two separate smartphones to have two separate e-mail accounts, and thus she had only one of each. She protected her server from hackers by having bodyguards on the premises — but not from her more dangerous alter ego, who deleted thousands of e-mails and crashed her server. She wanted a private account to e-mail her husband – and, as proof, Bill Clinton said he had written only two e-mails in his entire life. She swears that she knew which e-mails were private and which were public, and so understandably destroyed the former to prove just that to the American people. What Hillary Clinton did was not at all unusual, although no other high-ranking administration official communicated only through a private e-mail account and server. Listening to her gibberish was like an exasperated Dorothy watching the stammering Oz as the tiny man behind the curtain frantically twisted dials and pulled levers to let out steam and project a defiant, though empty, talking head.

RELATED: Religious Liberty and the Left’s End Game

The Obama administration has prompted a new use for the old adverb “unexpectedly,” which has been repeatedly used by the media to characterize dismal current statistics on economic growth and employment. “Unexpectedly” now means that massaged federal statistics and media spin are still not enough to hide the fact that something that inevitably should have happened actually has happened. Jaw-boning down business, hiking taxes, creating the Obamacare mess, expanding entitlements and regulations, running up $1 trillion deficits on the way to an $18 trillion national debt — all that and more “unexpectedly” led to more dismal economic news on flat employment and stagnant economic growth.

Do we remember how the thought police cited the unexpected Japanese tsunami, the unexpected Washington earthquake, the unexpected Arab Spring, unexpected online ticketing, unexpected ATM machines, an unexpected BP oil slick, unexpected Hurricane Irene, and unexpectedly soft Americans (cf. Barack Obama’s pronouncement: “The way I think about it is, this is a great, great country that had gotten a little soft, and we didn’t have that same competitive edge that we needed over the last couple of decades”), which all unexpectedly combined to cause a sluggish economy?

The Iran nuclear deal poses the greatest challenge to thought policing — largely because of the simple fact that if the theocracy, as it professes, did not wish to enrich uranium to get a bomb, there would never have been any enriched uranium there in the first place, and therefore no need for talks with an already energy-rich Iran.

President Obama and his administration had in the past warned us that we must not do what they just did. Suddenly Iran can keep the subterranean Fordow enrichment site. The Arak plutonium facility is now apparently okay too. Thousands of centrifuges can keep spinning. Enriched uranium does not have to be sent to Russia for inspection. Sanctions can be lifted before full compliance. Ballistic-missile development is a separate issue.

John Kerry had done his best multicultural mimicry (“Inshallah!”) since “Jenjis” Khan to convince us that he fathoms the Middle East. Barack Obama, who speaks no foreign languages and confuses the Falklands with the Maldives, let loose his pseudo-authentic Tay-hrran to prove that he too has special expertise to decipher the Iranians — in the tired fashion of his faux-erudite Pock-kee-stahn, Chee-leh, and Ta-lih-ban. So why worry about Ee-rahn when it is a legitimate regional power naturally flexing its muscles a bit in Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, and Yemen?

The thought police have been busily at work. The Iranians will no doubt fear crossing Obama in the same way that Putin feared destroying reset, that Assad feared crossing the Obama red line on WMD use, and that the ISIS jayvees feared Obama. The only alternative to the Iran deal is supposedly a war ginned up by the neoconservatives — never tougher sanctions, embargoes, or blockades. Iran, unlike other nations in the Middle East, is supposedly a great and powerful country that deserves singular respect. The greater fear is that Republican extremists in the Senate could derail the sober and judicious diplomacy of foreign-policy pros like John Kerry.

Why fight them? Close your eyes like Winston Smith and accept that you kept your doctor, that your premiums and deductibles went down $2,500 a year as your coverage expanded, and that the health-care savings reduced the deficit. When you wake up in your pod with a snatched body, Bibi Netanyahu is a coward and chickens–t, and Hassan Rouhani a new American ally.

Victor Davis Hanson — NRO contributor Victor Davis Hanson is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution and the author, most recently, of The Second World Wars: How the First Global Conflict Was Fought and Won.

Most Popular

Law & the Courts

Obstruction Confusions

In his Lawfare critique of one of my several columns about the purported obstruction case against President Trump, Gabriel Schoenfeld loses me — as I suspect he will lose others — when he says of himself, “I do not think I am Trump-deranged.” Gabe graciously expresses fondness for me, and the feeling is ... Read More
Politics & Policy

Students’ Anti-Gun Views

Are children innocents or are they leaders? Are teenagers fully autonomous decision-makers, or are they lumps of mental clay, still being molded by unfolding brain development? The Left seems to have a particularly hard time deciding these days. Take, for example, the high-school students from Parkland, ... Read More
PC Culture

Kill Chic

We live in a society in which gratuitous violence is the trademark of video games, movies, and popular music. Kill this, shoot that in repugnant detail becomes a race to the visual and spoken bottom. We have gone from Sam Peckinpah’s realistic portrayal of violent death to a gory ritual of metal ripping ... Read More
Elections

Romney Is a Misfit for America

Mitt’s back. The former governor of Massachusetts and occasional native son of Michigan has a new persona: Mr. Utah. He’s going to bring Utah conservatism to the whole Republican party and to the country at large. Wholesome, efficient, industrious, faithful. “Utah has a lot to teach the politicians in ... Read More
Law & the Courts

What the Second Amendment Means Today

The horrifying school massacre in Parkland, Fla., has prompted another national debate about guns. Unfortunately, it seems that these conversations are never terribly constructive — they are too often dominated by screeching extremists on both sides of the aisle and armchair pundits who offer sweeping opinions ... Read More
U.S.

Fire the FBI Chief

American government is supposed to look and sound like George Washington. What it actually looks and sounds like is Henry Hill from Goodfellas: bad suit, hand out, intoning the eternal mantra: “F*** you, pay me.” American government mostly works by interposition, standing between us, the free people at ... Read More
Film & TV

Black Panther’s Circle of Hype

The Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) first infantilizes its audience, then banalizes it, and, finally, controls it through marketing. This commercial strategy, geared toward adolescents of all ages, resembles the Democratic party’s political manipulation of black Americans, targeting that audience through its ... Read More