I’m addressing this to several of you whom I know in Washington, D.C. Not all of you, but some of you.
I’ve known you for decades. You’re think-tankers, government officials, political journalists, and pundits. Some of you have been all these things.
For a long while, I thought you were the good guys. You talked about individual liberty. Some of you identified as conservatives, others as libertarians, still others as classical liberals. None of you are outright leftists.
And, once upon a time, you were my friends.
You cheered my books on gay rights. (Many of you are gay.) But when I started writing critically about Islam, you went mum. All of you. You didn’t attack me in public, but you didn’t express support, either.
But that was OK.
Then Donald Trump came along. He spoke of liberty and of putting America First.
Your public rage at him – and his supporters – was instantaneous. It was visceral, full-throated, and constant.
I didn’t remember any of you getting that worked up about Barack Obama. Ever.
For a moment, at the very beginning, I didn’t quite get it. Then I got it. Of course. It was obvious.
Trump represented an existential threat to everything you had – your job security, your social status, your sumptuous lives in places like Chevy Chase, Falls Church, and Georgetown.
You knew – somehow all of you could tell instinctively – that when Trump talked about liberty, he meant it.
A Blinkered View of Liberty
But you? However much you talked about liberty, at bottom you weren’t really about liberty at all – at least not the individual liberty of ordinary Americans.
What were you about? Well, for one thing, you were about the “liberty” of giant American corporations to move their factories abroad, even to Communist countries, without penalty.
For those of you who work at think tanks, this position was understandable: owners of giant corporations paid your hefty salaries.
Yes, over the decades, as a result of policies you advocated, countless working Americans lost their jobs to workers in other countries – some of them children, some of them literally slaves, all of them paid little or nothing.
Such losses, you asserted, were regrettable, but in the end everybody would benefit.
Well, look who’s benefited: The Chinese Communist Party. Carlos Slim. The Silicon Valley Billionaire Boys’ Club.
And, of course, you. Because nobody was exporting your jobs to China or Mexico.
What else were you about? You were about the “liberty” of any and all foreigners to move to the United States at will, hence driving down wages. In short, open borders.
A Blind Eye to Jihad
One of the problems with this position was that millions of those foreigners subscribed to a religion that taught them to hate America and its values and to applaud armed jihad.
But instead of acknowledging the unique dangers of Islam and adjusting your policy prescriptions accordingly, those of you who are think tankers established (or stood by silently while your higher-ups established) “Islam programs” and “Islam projects” and hired “Islam experts” to run them.
Uniformly, these “experts” supported – and some of them had even helped formulate – the Obama Administration’s stratagem of scrubbing the basic facts about the roots of jihad from intelligence briefings, military manuals, and the like.
With the help of these “experts,” your think tanks produced reports, articles, colloquia, etc., that whitewashed the Quran, argued that Islam is eminently compatible with classical liberalism, and maintained that the Islamic world is growing more secular.
To make these ridiculous claims sound even remotely credible, you and your colleagues consistently had to ignore mountains of evidence to the contrary. Your readiness to go along with this mendacity made clear your devotion, not to truth, but to the cause of allaying Americans’ fears of mass Muslim immigration.
(Also, in the case of at least one of your think tanks, it surely reflected your generous funding by at least one authoritarian Middle Eastern government. So much for your love of liberty.)
You claimed to be against “big government.” In fact, you’re all cogs in a sprawling Washington establishment that extends way beyond the constitutionally prescribed president, Congress, and Supreme Court to include agencies, think tanks, lobbying groups, news organizations, and so on, that work together to shape government policies – policies that might or might not accord with the wishes or best interests of most Americans beyond the Beltway.
Bashing Trump, Defending Treason
Anyway, as I say, Trump came along. He made promises. And he kept them.
He took on Chinese tariffs. You screamed about free trade, as if grotesquely lopsided one-way tariff arrangements could be called fair.
He took on job exports. You screamed some more.
And the economy boomed. Jobs came back. Americans began to prosper as never before.
And you hated every minute of it. You made that clear in your articles and TV appearances and social media posts.
When the Democrats tried to sell the patently phony Russian-collusion narrative and impeachment case, some of you joined in the pile-on. Some didn’t: such matters weren’t in your wheelhouse. Besides, at least some of you had to have realized early on that it was all lies.
But none of you blew the whistle on it.
The Obama people were trying to overturn the 2016 election – a reprehensible betrayal of constitutional principles that put the United States through years of hell.
And what did you do? Even if you didn’t explicitly parrot Rachel Maddow, you nonetheless aided and abetted this coup attempt by staying silent about it while continuing to slam Trump over the trivial outrage du jour.
Yet I didn’t take you on personally. I wanted to think we could stay friends despite having different politics.
But as the deep state persisted in its unscrupulous mischief – e.g., perp-walking Roger Stone from his home while tipped-off CNN hacks looked on – it became harder to see things that way.
In recent days, I’ve reached an apotheosis. It was triggered by a thread on one of your Facebook pages.
Some of the commenters were fellow D.C. insiders. But others (I easily discovered) were big machers in Hollywood and on Wall Street.
As it happened, the comments on the thread were written in the hours after the Michael Flynn stuff exploded and it was established that Obama himself was almost certainly behind the effort to frame and dethrone Trump.
But what was striking was that the thread wasn’t about that. There wasn’t a word about Obama’s perfidy or Trump’s innocence.
Yes, Obama had been unmasked as a felon, a traitor. But you and your pals in the corridors of power in New York, Washington, and Los Angeles just kept on with the usual day-to-day Trump-bashing.
Proof of Obama’s crimes had been placed in front of all of you, and you all swept it aside without a moment’s hesitation.
The Patrician Class Defends Its Own
I found myself taken aback. I shouldn’t have been, but I was. None of you cared that Obama and his people were crooks. You didn’t care that this was about the fundamental principles of the American constitutional republic.
You were just that cynical.
I felt almost as if I was seeing all of you clearly and fully for the first time. And in that moment I realized I could no longer view any of this simply as a matter of having different politics.
In the next couple of days, I monitored your social media to see if any of you would respond in any way to all the staggering revelations about the plot against Trump. Nope.
On the contrary, as if nothing whatever had happened, a bunch of you sniped at him about the tone of one of his more insignificant tweets.
One of you called him “the narcissist-in-chief.” (Obama isn’t a narcissist?) Another said that this single tweet made Trump “unfit for any office of trust.”
One of you – a longtime friend of mine – even addressed Trump voters directly, telling us that we should be ashamed to have voted for him and ordering us not to do it again.
Sorry, but as a lifelong freelancer who’s never had to write a word at odds with my own conscience, I don’t like taking orders from people who’ve been paid generously to parrot their paymasters’ opinions.
The sheer refusal to engage with reality was breathtaking.
Get this straight: I’m not angry at you for hating Trump. Hate him all you want. That’s not the point.
I’m angry because you apparently feel no duty whatsoever to the national institutions of which, by virtue of your jobs, you are, for better or worse, the guardians.
But so it is. You’ve shrugged off Obama’s culpability. And in doing so, you’ve set yourself against liberty and justice. You’ve accepted perfidy and treason at the highest levels as part of the rules of the road.
What’s at the core of your being, I see now, is not a sense of principles but your identity as part of the Washington establishment.
You’ve posed as people who take seriously your responsibility to the American republic. In reality, your loyalty has been to the increasingly sprawling D.C. bureaucracy, and its tentacles in New York and L.A.
If you can shrug off the transgressions of Obama and his courtiers so blithely, it’s because you’re all fellow members of the same establishment as Obama, Biden, Brennan, Comey, Clapper, and the Clintons, with the same values and priorities.
Guilt and innocence? Right and wrong? Right and Left? Who cares about such things? That’s for rubes in Flyover Country.
What matters is preserving your privileges as members of the patrician class. What matters is keeping cosa nostra – “our thing” – intact.
For a long time, I didn’t realize – or couldn’t realize, or perhaps even chose not to realize – that this was what I was looking at when I looked at you.
No more. The scales have fallen from my eyes, and the sight before me is a sorry thing indeed.
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Bruce Bawer is the author of While Europe Slept, Surrender, and The Victims’ Revolution. His novel The Alhambra was published in 2017.