Edi­tor’s let­ter

The Week (US) - - Contents - Wil­liam Falk

Dur­ing the 2017 spe­cial elec­tion for a U.S. Se­nate seat in Alabama, progressive ac­tivists set up a fake Face­book page in os­ten­si­ble sup­port of Repub­li­can Roy Moore. The page, called Dry Alabama, praised Moore for propos­ing a com­plete ban on al­co­hol in the state—a false claim de­signed to de­press his vote to­tals from mod­er­ate Repub­li­cans. Sounds like a Rus­sian tac­tic, but ac­tivist Matt Os­borne told The New York Times this week he had “a moral im­per­a­tive to do this.” De­feat­ing Moore, an ac­cused se­rial abuser of teenage girls, was so im­por­tant, Os­borne ex­plained, that a bit of de­cep­tion was jus­ti­fied. Dirty po­lit­i­cal tricks are, of course, not new, but the brazen de­fense of them on moral grounds is quite telling. There’s a grow­ing bi­par­ti­san con­vic­tion that vir­tu­ally any­thing—ly­ing, cheat­ing, and spy­ing—is jus­ti­fied be­cause, well, the other tribe is so evil.

Pres­i­dent Trump, of course, is the lead­ing prac­ti­tioner of the dark arts of de­cep­tion, but his dis­dain for facts and norms is ev- idently in­fec­tious. When so­cial­ist su­per­star Rep. Alexan­dria Oca­sio-Cortez was re­cently ques­tioned about her fuzzy math and ex­ag­ger­ated claims about Pen­tagon waste, she shot back, “There’s a lot of peo­ple more con­cerned about be­ing pre­cisely, fac­tu­ally, and se­man­ti­cally cor­rect than about be­ing morally right.” (See Con­tro­versy.) When newly seated U.S. Sen. Mitt Rom­ney called out Trump for di­vi­sive rhetoric, lack of “hon­esty and in­tegrity,” and low char­ac­ter, Repub­li­can col­leagues chas­tised him for be­ing too truth­ful. (See Talk­ing Points.) Evan­gel­i­cals ex­cuse Trump’s se­rial adul­tery and unchris­tian bom­bast in the be­lief that he’s serv­ing a di­vine pur­pose by fill­ing fed­eral benches with anti-abor­tion judges. (See Best U.S. Col­umns.) Were 4,000 Is­lamic ter­ror­ists re­ally caught try­ing to cross the Mex­i­can bor­der? Will rais­ing mil­lion­aires’ taxes re­ally pay for free ev­ery­thing? Who cares? When you’re ab­so­lutely cer­tain you’re “morally right,” facts and ethics are im­ma­te­rial.


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