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.

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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)