The Corner

Liberal Outrage, and Its Absence

Julian Assange prides himself on being a bomb-thrower, eager to take down Western governments and banks, the U.S. military, etc. Yet, in cowardly fashion, he stays clear of getting involved with dissident leakers from those governments and groups — e.g., China, Iran, North Korea, Hezbollah, Russia, Syria — that (1) do far more damage to the global body politic than the United States, and (2) might well do bodily harm to Mr. Assange should he do to them what he does to Western interests.

The federally funded National Portrait Gallery has a new postmodern Christmastime Hide/Seek exhibit (with a $750,000 price tag) that includes a video of Jesus on the cross being devoured by ants. Apparently such themes reveal that the Smithsonian-sponsored gallery is “committed to showing how a major theme in American history has been the struggle for justice so that people and groups can claim their full inheritance in America’s promise of equality, inclusion, and social dignity.” But if these subsidized race/class/gender operatives really wished to be avant-garde, why not do something really shocking and add a video of the Prophet to complement Jesus, as a sort of non-discriminatory, all-out assault on organized religion — especially given the clear gender/ gay bias in traditional Islam? Is the reason because Christians won’t do much to the courageous curators who are interested in “social dignity,” but radical Muslims might?

Not too long ago, the media was raging over Scooter Libby (who was charged with a crime that was not a crime, which, if it were one, he did not commit), and supposed Bush excesses. Now former Yale Law dean Harold Koh has stopped railing over supposed torture and is instead defending Obama’s vast expansion of Predator assassinations and writing government briefs against leaking. Hillary Clinton is urging diplomats to spy on U.N. personnel, and Barack Obama is trying to sell photo-ops to foreign leaders in exchange for taking Guantanamo detainees off his hands. Question — where is MSNBC, the New York Times, or NPR? Why no outrage over the legalization of robotic hits, federal intrusion into the lives of U.N. diplomats, or tawdry bartering on the part of our president?

Liberal angst is never really over transparency, freedom of artistic expression, or limitations on federal power, but over certain sorts of transparency, certain sorts of free expression, and certain sorts of government conduct.

NRO contributor Victor Davis Hanson is the Martin and Illie Anderson Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution and the author, most recently, of The Case for Trump.

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