Several episodes in the news this week had me pondering a post about whether the hysteria of “the resistance” has caused a critical mass of Democrats and progressives to lose their grip on basic ethical values, like decency, tolerance, respect, proportion, democracy and citizenship competence. These were all ethics alarms, perhaps especially for liberal Americans with integrity, warnings that their side of the ideological divide is not merely spinning off its axis, but spinning into insanity.
Ethics Alarm #1, and the worst by far, was this astounding scenario out of Newton Massachusetts.
Newton District Court Judge Mary Beth Heffernan freed a previously deported Uber driver accused of three charges of rape on minimal bail even after a prosecutor insisted that federal immigration agents were drafting a detainer and asked for higher bond to hold him. Tapes of this week’s hearing revealed the judge cutting arguments short, and before a defense attorney could even counter the prosecution’s $100,000 bail and GPS-monitoring demand, declalred, “Twenty-five hundred dollars cash.” She then set a follow-on court date and asked, “Is he going to make the bail today?”
On the tape, someone in the courtroom is heard calling out, “Yes.” Heffernan then asked a court employee, “Can you take bail downstairs? Sometimes they won’t, they make them go back out to the House of Correction at 4 o’clock.” The defendant, Luis Baez, promptly disappeared, which was the evident goal of the judge. She was more concerned with allowing an illegal, already once deported immigrant avoid ICE arrest than protecting the citizens of Massachusetts.
Baez was accused of raping a drunken Boston College student who had hailed his Uber car. Middlesex Assistant District Attorney Raquel Frisardi told the judge that Baez took the young woman to a parking lot and other sites, and raped her three times.. He then dropped his victim at Boston College, where she reported she had been raped. Baez was introduced to the judge as “somebody known to the Boston police gang unit as having previous involvement in the Mozart Street Gang, someone who had been previously prosecuted and in fact previously deported.”
She didn’t care about any of that. Judge Heffernan, a judicial appointment of Obama pal, former Governor Deval Patrick, was a former public safety secretary in his administration who had resigned in the midst of a scandal. True to her party’s obsession, she was determined to help Baez avoid immigration enforcement.
Ethics Alarm #2 illustrates how warped some even previously warped hyper-partisans have become in their hatred of the President.
Talking on MSNBC with Chris Hayes about the dangerous situation with North Korea, Hayes, a card-carrying Trump-basher if there ever was one, made the rather obvious statement that he’s “genuinely rooting for” Trump to “handle the North Korea situation well.” Good for Chris Hayes: he’s an American, and partisan hate hasn’t completely eaten his brain. Not Moore though.
“I don’t know if I agree with that,” Moore responded. Moore went on to explain that it is more important to him that Trump fail and thus lose power than for the United States to successfully defuse the rogue nuclear nation and its threat to the world. “It’s like rooting for a 6-year-old who suddenly swiped dad’s car and figured out how to take it down the road,” the fool stated. “I’m not rooting for the 6-year-old to get on the highway and drive that car. I want the 6-year-old off the highway.”
This accurately expresses the message being broadcast by much of the anti-Trump forces, including the Democratic Party, since the election. They are willing to facilitate almost any damage —in Moore’s case, nuclear destruction—to the nation, its institutions, its stability and the public if it will somehow undo the election, and get Donald Trump “off the highway.” Moore is obviously an extreme case, but when you find yourself in the same camp as someone who thinks like he does, the ethics alarms should be deafening.
Ethics Alarm #3 came in the context of climate change, along with open borders the most intensely and irrationally held tenet of current progressive cant.
The New York Times, no longer able to pass off David Brooks as a conservative and needing some cover in its op-ed pages for its extreme leftward bias, recruited former Wall Street Journal writer Bret Stephens ,who offered a column this week arguing that the climate change issue was too important to discourage debate.
He wrote in part,
Isn’t this one instance, at least, where 100 percent of the truth resides on one side of the argument? Well, not entirely. As Andrew Revkin wrote last year about his storied career as an environmental reporter at The Times, “I saw a widening gap between what scientists had been learning about global warming and what advocates were claiming as they pushed ever harder to pass climate legislation.” The science was generally scrupulous. The boosters who claimed its authority weren’t.
Anyone who has read the 2014 report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change knows that, while the modest (0.85 degrees Celsius, or about 1.5 degrees Fahrenheit) warming of the Northern Hemisphere since 1880 is indisputable, as is the human influence on that warming, much else that passes as accepted fact is really a matter of probabilities. That’s especially true of the sophisticated but fallible models and simulations by which scientists attempt to peer into the climate future. To say this isn’t to deny science. It’s to acknowledge it honestly… Claiming total certainty about the science traduces the spirit of science and creates openings for doubt whenever a climate claim proves wrong. Demanding abrupt and expensive changes in public policy raises fair questions about ideological intentions. Censoriously asserting one’s moral superiority and treating skeptics as imbeciles and deplorables wins few converts.
None of this is to deny climate change or the possible severity of its consequences. But ordinary citizens also have a right to be skeptical of an overweening scientism. They know — as all environmentalists should — that history is littered with the human wreckage of scientific errors married to political power.
I admit, this almost perfectly encapsulates my position on the climate change issue, but nobody who is thoughtful and fair can call Stephens’ point invalid or sinister. Thus the reaction to the article shows how many on the Left are no longer capable of being thoughtful or fair. Stevens was surprised. “After 20 months of being harangued by bullying Trump supporters, I’m reminded that the nasty left is no different. Perhaps worse,” Stephens tweeted the day his column ran.
“Go eat dog dicks,” wrote one classy Twitter user.
“When is the Times going to get rid of you?” tweeted another
“You’re a shithead. a crybaby lil fuckin weenie. a massive twat too,” tweeted Libby Watson, a staff writer at Gizmodo.
“I’m gonna lose my mind.The ideas ppl like @BretStephensNYT espouse are violently hateful & should not be given a platform by @NYTimes” wrote Eve Peyser, politics writer at Vice.
That’s it. That’s exactly what college students, Howard Dean and so many others on the Left now believe. If speech doesn’t toe the progressive line, then it should be censored, and even punished. Over at the Althouse blog, a well-named reader calling himself “A Reasonable Man” commented on Althouse’s rueful post about the Stephens op-ed. He wrote,
There are multiple issues here that seem to be confused in the minds of some.
1. Whether or not the earth is warming.
– Only conspiracy theorists doubt this.
2. Whether or not human activity contributes to this warming.
– Open for argument, but the data favors this possibility.
3. The ability of the models to make reliable predictions.
– All reasonable people should doubt this.
4. What we should do about the possibility that human activity drives global warming.
– Not a scientific question but a political one.
Bingo. And the op-ed is fully consistent with all four. What can be said about those who find Stephen’s moderate call for open dialogue worthy of threats and abuse? They are not reasonable. They do not respect intellectual freedom or open political discourse. They are proto-totalitarians.
UPDATE: This incredible Slate piece shows how deranged and immune to reason the left’s news media has become. Really, Slate? Really?
These three ethics alarms, and a lot more, should be greatly concerning to the adults and the sane, not just on the Left, but in the nation as a whole. An unhinged and ethically crippled progressive establishment is in nobody’s interest, and is in fact dangerous.
As I was cogitating on this, I learned that one prominent Hollywood liberal, Richard Dreyfuss, had peered into the remains of what was once a healthy American political tradition, and like his character Matt Hooper assessing the cause of Chrissie Watkin’s mangling in “Jaws,” proclaims that this was no boating accident.
Talking on Fox News with Tucker Carlson about the assault on free speech and expression on college campuses, another related ethics alarm, and the deepening hostility to basic American values as they are articulated in the Constitution, Dreyfuss said in part,
I have withdrawn from partisan politics. I am a constitutionalist who believes that the Constitution and the Bill of Rights must be central and the parties must be peripheral….Civics has not been taught in the American public school system since 1970. And that means everyone in Congress never studied the Constitution and the Bill of Rights as you and I might have. And that is a critical flaw, because it’s why we were admired and respected for so long. It gives us our national identity, it tells the world who we are and why we are who we are, and without a frame that gives us values that stand behind the Bill of Rghts, we’re just floating in the air and our sectors of society are not connected.
What’s really important is that the assumptions of the Left and the Right are all skewed wrong. We have to find areas of agreement and areas that we share. And we do share the notion that education accomplishes certain things. One, it turns students into citizens. And, two, it teaches students how to run the country before it’s their turn to run the country. And, three, it teaches the values of this nation.
People come from all over the world or are born into this nation without the values that we have here. That’s why they came here, to get them. And what are they? Opportunity, rise by merit, mobility, and freedom. That’s what we sell. And if you don’t want that, you’ve chosen the wrong place. And you don’t get a pass by being born here, you have to earn it. Even the Ten Commandments are not known at birth. You must learn them. And we must learn our values and if we don’t, we are fatally, fatally wounding ourselves. We will not have any way to really combat the ideas behind ISIS because we won’t know our own. And we have to.
Dreyfuss was appearing on Fox News to plug his project, The Dreyfuss Civics Initiative, and its website where visitors are asked to sign the preamble to the United States Constitution to show their support. The Dreyfuss Civics Initiative is a non-profit, non-partisan organization that “aims to revive the teaching of civics in American public education to empower future generations with the critical-thinking skills they need to fulfill the vast potential of American citizenship.” The actor has the right idea. If you endorse and understand the Constitution, Judge Heffernan, you understand the rule of law, and the role of the judiciary in enforcing the laws made by Congress, not foiling them. If you endorse and understand the Constitution, Michael Moore, you understand how elections work, which part of the government runs foreign policy, and that Presidents can’t be “removed from the road” just because their policies are unpopular. If you endorse and understand the Constitution, climate change fanatics, you understand that free and open debate must be encouraged and dissenting views tolerated, no matter how certain you are that you and your allies have the only true insight into complex policy issues.
Most of the worst excesses of the American political system, not just since the election but long before, arise out of the public’s increasing ignorance about our values and our system, and this has been exploited by both political parties and the news media. The result is frighteningly weakened democratic institutions, rotting values and an untrustworthy political class. This was no boating accident, nor an accident at all. Our core values are under attack by those who don’t accept them, and only education and a proactive, pro-Constitution, engaged and committed public can save them for future generations.