From Watergate to the Pizza Wars

It Didn't Start with Watergate, Victor Lasky wrote in 1977, in an effort to place the Nixon administration's scandals into context alongside the same or worse crimes committed by the FDR, JFK, and LBJ administrations. Today, as Kevin D. Williamson writes at NRO, the Obama administration and its operatives with bylines are doing their best to make these "Scandals in the rearview mirror appear smaller:"

Nixon complained that he could not get a break from the liberal press, that the Washington Post and the New York Times would go after him no matter what, that journalism had been replaced by vendetta. In 2015, when mobs threatened to descend upon a nonconformist pizzeria and burn it to the ground, the so-called liberals in the media cheered for the arsonists and argued that a business being threatened with violence for the unpopular political opinions of its owners is only getting “exactly what it deserved.”

The Indiana hysteria is an excellent indicator. Ron Fournier of National Journal, who for some reason is generally esteemed, argued with a straight face that Indiana’s freedom-of-religion law is “not unlike Jim Crow laws at all,” which is true if you ignore the slavery and categorical subjugation and the use of state violence in the service of a program of general political and social repression and the first few centuries of American history and all. Moral panics have their uses: If you convince yourself that your opponent is evil — not wrong, not operating from a set of values at variance with your own, but evil — then there is no crime of which he might not be suspected — and, more important, no crime that one might not commit oneself in order to frustrate his wicked aims.

Needless to say, this line of thinking can be suspended when the politician is confronted with real but politically convenient evil, e.g., those Sandinistas that the Reagan administration was fighting. This is why in the popular history of 20th century, the bad guys aren’t the Communists who murdered 100 million people and their American enablers, but the meanies such as Richard Nixon and Joe McCarthy, who tried to expose them.

If the other side is evil, then anything is permissible. Of course Harry Reid doesn’t feel guilty about lying about Mitt Romney: “He didn’t get elected, did he?” Of course so-called progressives are willing to lock up nonconformist bakers or merrily cheer on those who promise to set their businesses on fire. Of course the Obama administration will try to sign us up for a phony nuclear deal with Tehran that undermines our national security — and that of our allies — in the service of its own political interests.

As Williamson concludes, "There are those who call this 'progress.'" Linking to an article on "Vulture Journalists," Glenn Reynolds writes:

I don’t mind the journos who circle around tragedies so much. I mind the ones who — as with Ferguson, the UVA rape hoax, or the Indiana pizza parlor — actively incite tragedies for political and pecuniary gain. With Ferguson, the purveyors of the “hands up, don’t shoot” lie were perhaps too numerous to call to account, though someone should try. But with UVA it was Sabrina Rubin Erdely and Rolling Stone, and with the Indiana Pizzeria it was Alyssa Marino and ABC57 News, all of whom are identifiable defendants. . . .

"Liberals May Regret Their New Rules," Kurt Schlichter writes, pondering the conditions that could cause the Cold Civil War between the right and left to turn hot. "I’m not advocating violence – I am warning liberals that they are setting the conditions for violence."

Oh and finally, Happy Easter. To get a sense of how the left's culture war has transformed the nation, compare and contrast these two tweets from a week apart:

 

The lamps are indeed going out all over the world.