The Arc of History Bends Toward . . . What, Exactly?

One of the most dishonest and pernicious phrases in the cultural-Marxist lexicon—much favored by Barack Hussein Obama during his eight years in office—goes like this: “The arc of history bends toward justice.” The former president borrowed the phrase from Martin Luther King, Jr., who lifted it from the abolitionist Theodore Parker; attached to the moral struggle of the civil-rights movement, it has become a club with which to beat troglodyte conservatives into submission.

But this is arrant nonsense. As I observe in my forthcoming book, The Fiery Angel:

This fantastic notion derives from the Hegelian-Marxist belief in history as an abstract, almost sentient, force akin to the old notion of Destiny, but with a bastardized Christian teleological impulse. Indeed, the entire Leftist notion of “progress” and its political expression, “progressivism,” stems from it. An “arc of history” that “bends toward justice” is the next best thing to God.

The obvious derivation of this concept, from both the spirituality of Christianity and the rationalism of the Enlightenment—a Deity as the great Watchmaker in the sky, overseeing the orderly ticking of the universe—should be at once obvious. Given the Leftist fondness for Darwin’s theory of natural selection and of the origin of species, this is an odd, contradictory theory for atheists to hold. But, to quote the Emperor in Amadeus, there it is.

The problem, of course, is that they don’t believe in God—the “invisible man in the sky,” to use one of their choice terms of derision. They consider almost any form of religious belief—except Islam!—to be little better than prehistoric superstition, as outmoded as Zeus, Jupiter, Odin, and Wotan. That the concept of a Deity established itself at the origins of humanity and is found in every culture and civilization is to them simply proof of how widespread this confederacy of dunces really is.

But they do believe in something very like God, which they call by various names, including “justice” and its political corollary, “independence.”

Which brings us to the FBI.

We hear much lately about the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s vaunted ‘independence.” In response to which I ask: independence from what? The key to understanding this concept of independent independence is the key to unraveling the entire “Russian hacking” investigation and everything that lies behind and beneath it. The preening James Comey recently tweeted:

Comey is still smarting from getting fired by President Trump, and is out for vengeance via his bestie, Robert Mueller (another former FBI chief), the Obama holdovers in the Justice Department, and their cheering section in the media. But sane folks ought not to let them get away with what is a blatant falsehood. The FBI is no more “independent” than any other agency of the federal government; it reports to the attorney general, and he in turn to the president.

The FBI was founded in 1908 during Teddy Roosevelt’s administration as a way to chase financial crimes and stifle the armed wing of the Democrat Party, the Ku Klux Klan. It was meant to be “independent” in one sense only: that as federal agents, G-men were independent of state and local authority in their criminal investigations. When you understand that the Klan—which had widespread protection in the southern and midwestern states where it flourished—was one of its initial primary targets, you can see why.

Another target, one the cultural-Marxist Left conveniently forgets to mention, was the rising tide of anarchy then sweeping the country, and the fear of Bolshevism. The United States had seen three presidents assassinated during the 36-year period 1865-1901: Abraham Lincoln, by a southern Democrat; James Garfield, a former Union general in the Civil War, by a nutcase from the Oneida Community; and William McKinley, who was shot by a Polish-American anarchist inspired by then-recent assassinations of crowned heads in Europe.

All three presidents had been murdered within just a few months of their first or second inaugurations. All three were Republicans. Indeed, of the first six elected GOP presidents, fully half were murdered in office, and there was an attempt on Roosevelt’s life in 1912 as well. Something had to be done.

So the FBI needed to be independent; until now, no one thought that meant independent from its lawfully constituted superiors and overseers. But since the 1960s, the Left has posited a notion of an authority higher than the U.S. Constitution. In the past, this took the form of the federal courts, especially the Supreme Court, which since the Earl Warren court has arrogated more and more power to itself and its decrees. The Left saw the courts—largely unelected, and made up of only a few members that could easily be influenced or swayed by quotidian passions—as a supra-legislature with veto power over the actions of the executive; any democratically resolved decisions (California’s Proposition 8, for example) could be junked by judicial fiat. The courts, which had been designed to be above politics, quickly turned into the most politicized, and unaccountable, branch of government.

It’s this notion of the existence of abstract justice that lies behind Comey’s vainglorious assertion of moral primacy. But this would effectively mean that the FBI director is more powerful than either of his bosses, and that if he alone decides the president is “obstructing justice,” there ought to be no one to gainsay him. As Trump’s lawyer pointed out the other day, the president definitionally cannot “obstruct justice” in a legal and constitutional sense, since he is the chief enforcer of the laws of the United States, which he swears to uphold at his inauguration. Even a rogue president cannot be arrested and frog-marched out of the White House for cause. He can only be impeached and convicted in order to be removed from office.

As he’s doing on so many fronts, Trump is bursting the Left’s fantasy bubble of its own unquestioned moral superiority, and delineating clear lines of constitutional authority. Naturally, they view this as alarming and unprecedented, because to them, it is. They alone can see the arc of history and where it is bending: not toward justice, but to their own self-aggrandizement, and power. It’s high time they learned otherwise.

About Michael Walsh

Michael Walsh is a journalist, author, and screenwriter. He was for 16 years the music critic and foreign correspondent for Time Magazine, for which he covered the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of the Soviet Union. His works include the novels As Time Goes By, And All the Saints (winner, 2004 American Book Award for fiction), and the bestselling “Devlin” series of NSA thrillers; as well as the recent nonfiction bestseller, The Devil’s Pleasure Palace. A sequel, The Fiery Angel, was published by Encounter in May 2018. Follow him on Twitter at @dkahanerules (Photo credit: Peter Duke Photo)

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34 responses to “The Arc of History Bends Toward . . . What, Exactly?”

  1. Until prominent leftists are held to the same standard of justice as everyone else, they will never give up “their own self-aggrandizement, and power.”

  2. I especially appreciated President Trump throwing DACA back to its proper venue–the Congress. The more the left decry Trump as authoritarian the more it becomes evident he is not. His most recent action in declaring the intent to move the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem is another example of his intent to implement passed laws. The same goes for immigration law.

    The left’s uproar is nothing more than smoke and mirrors. As long as they passed laws they never intended to enforce they could have their cake and eat it too. No more.

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    • There is no “arc of history.” The idea is pure leftist. History is the result of random processes and individual actions. If the current battle for Liberty in the US is lost to the left, it will be because we failed to preserve it. Not because history favors the leftist dictatorship.

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  3. It is amusing to watch Trump follow the Constitution while Dems openly plot his impeachment for doing so. For some reason, Obama’s extra Constitutional actions were fully defendable.

    • Yep, the only president I’m aware of who is excoriated for following the law and defending the Constitution. We need more Red Pills and they need to be introduced to the water supplies on both coasts.

    • “… Obama’s extra Constitutional actions were fully defendable.”

      His skin was black and he was a Democrat.

  4. “…The FBI was founded in 1908 during Teddy Roosevelt’s administration as a way to chase financial crimes and stifle the armed wing of the Democrat Party, the Ku Klux Klan….”
    Just needed to repeat that!
    Funny how the Democrats have been permitted to HIJACK THE HISTORICAL TRUTH.

    • “Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past.” George Orwell – 1984

      The Democrats stopped being the Democrats after WWII, and became the Communist Party USA.
      What they have been doing since that time pretty much proves that they are Communists.

      • Whatever they call themselves doesn’t conceal the fact that they are the most corrupt, immoral, evil, and violent class of politicians in American history.

      • Very true statement. Now we need to find people to elect that will pass term limits, and do what they are supposed to do, represent the people, instead of lining their pockets with lobbyists money.

      • And, you can clearly see how difficult that is going to be to dislodge these parasites from the government repository.

    • Except the Klan didn’t exist in 1908 – or 1909. It wasn’t formed until seven years later after Teddy was long gone from public life.

      • He may have been using the original Klan (1860-1870) as an excuse. The ones you speak of were the second wave. That said, elements of the Klan have always been around.

  5. “The FBI was founded in 1908 during Teddy Roosevelt’s administration as a way to chase financial crimes and stifle the armed wing of the Democrat Party, the Ku Klux Klan.”

    I’ve never heard of there being a KKK in 1908. The First Klan was disbanded in 1871 and the Second Klan was founded in 1915.

    • “In June 1910, the Mann (“White Slave”) Act became an important tool for the bureau. The Mann Act made it illegal for women to be transported across state lines for immoral purposes, which in turn, gave the bureau the right to investigate non-law-abiding citizens who had eluded prosecution by leaving a certain state. The Bureau of Investigation also used the Mann Act to bring Louisiana’s Ku Klux Klan “Imperial Kleagle” to justice. In 1912, former Special Examiner, Bruce Bielaski, became the bureau’s new chief.”

      See also:

      • There was no Louisiana Klan in 1908 or 1912. The KKK was formed in Stone Mountain, Georgia in 1915.

    • Every thread needs a niggler. Thank you for your service.

  6. Liberalism is the US hating obamas that were “never proud of the
    country”, stump for a groper & rape enabler, sat in hate filled
    Wrights church, friends with a known domestic terrorist, host BLM cop haters
    & singers that sing hate filled lyrics…….the obama legacy of always
    siding with the most radical leftists, Black Lives Matter over the cops, Occupy
    Wall Street over the Tea Party, Illegals over citizens, refugees over
    citizens, Planned Parenthood’s baby killers over the rule of law, bureaucrats
    over doctors, teachers unions over students, Govt tyranny over the little
    sisters (et al), accommodated leaders hostile to America, Putin, al-assad,
    iran, cuba while chastising Israel, abandoning afghanistan & Ukraine, lied
    to the faces of benghazi relatives blaming a video etc ….a radical leftist,
    divisive by choice, who tried to “fundamentally transform” the greatest country in history!!!!…. FOURTH worst US economy in history thanks to them and
    you low info voters.

  7. Liberals have made an art form of twisting formerly useful language in Orwellian mantras. They profess to encourage diversity when in fact they demand the opposite… uniformity. How much diversity of thought is allowed in discussions of climate change? None… they demand conformity from everyone and woe betide the “denier” who expresses the slightest hint of skepticism. The same derision is reserved for those who disagree with liberal’s positions on abortion, immigration, and a multitude of other issues. They tout their love of diversity and toleration when, in fact, they are the most intolerant people on the planet.

  8. I put Walsh up there with Mark Steyn as one of the surest and most enjoyable voices of the sane right.

    • He needs to learn how to be factual before he’s lauded.

      • As I note above, Walsh mis-quotes King and Parker (and thus misinterprets Obama’s paraphrase of them). King and Parker spoke of “the moral universe” not “history.” Walsh gets the facts wrong at the outset, and his entire piece goes astray accordingly.

  9. Well, I was hoping this would be a decent article but then Walsh up and says Teddy Roosevelt formed the predecessor to the FBI to “fight the Ku Klux Klan.” Well, considering that the KKK didn’t exist in 1908, somebody didn’t do their research. The KKK wasn’t formed until 1915 as a direct result of the Mary Phagan murder and trial, conviction and Jewish lobbying in support of Leo Frank.

    • “Founded in 1866, the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) extended into almost every southern state by 1870 and became a vehicle for white southern resistance to the Republican Party’s Reconstruction-era policies aimed at establishing political and economic equality for blacks. Its members waged an underground campaign of intimidation and violence directed at white and black Republican leaders. Though Congress passed legislation designed to curb Klan terrorism, the organization saw its primary goal–the reestablishment of white supremacy–fulfilled through Democratic victories in state legislatures across the South in the 1870s. After a period of decline, white Protestant nativist groups revived the Klan in the early 20th century, burning crosses and staging rallies, parades and marches denouncing immigrants, Catholics, Jews, blacks and organized labor.”

  10. The big question is why do we even have a federal police force at this juncture. The danger always was there it could become more oppressive than helpful. We have reached that tipping point.

    Disband the FBI or the republic will die.

    • The FBI is like the IRS: As corrupt as it is, the function remains essential.

      I don’t have a clean answer to either one.

  11. Ah, the arc of history. “An “arc of history” that “bends toward justice” is the next best thing to God.” I thought it was a loose metaphor, an encapsulation of hopes, not a belief system. Found out otherwise. My sjw sister was rhapsodizing about the younger generation and this loopy concept of the arc. I don’t belief she knows any conservatives other than me. And I responded that reality is more chaotic than all that, reality probably doesn’t follow the prescribed arc she loved. Boy, oh boy, did she get upset. Irrationally so, because what effect would my words have on her beloved arc. It is like a god to leftists I think. She closed by telling me that she would be unable to get out of bed every morning if she didn’t believe in the arc. Whoa. True believer. I love her, but that is kind of nuts.

  12. Dr. King and Rev. Parker spoke of “the moral universe,” not “history.” The actual quote is not based on or intended to intended to be a theory of history, Hegelian-Marxist or otherwise. It is optimism, rooted in spiritual faith, that true justice not is only possible, but that the “moral universe” is on a natural trajectory toward it. Obama clearly spoke in this sense when he paraphrased King, and this is the sense in which those of us for whom the words resonate took them. To the extent the author’s arguments proceed from and are based on this clear, likely intentional misapprehension, he is the one peddling “arrant nonsense.” (To the extent he objects to a poetic, powerful statement of hope, he is a cynical old poop.)