Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The Left's Culture of Deceit

The local section of this morning's Los Angeles Times reports on the controversy over the proposed freeway toll road through San Onofre State Beach, in South Orange County.

What got me thinking was
this photograph, which was on the front-page of the paper:

Trestles Debate

Here's the caption:

Vickie McMurchie of the Surfrider Foundation casts a suspicious eye at Tran Peng Guo, a design engineer and member of the building trades union. Tran Peng Guo said he was attending the hearing, on the proposed toll road through south Orange County and north San Diego county, as a volunteer with about a hundred union members. A union official said the members received no compensation, although a chartered bus brought most of them from Orange County.
Folks can quibble with the interpretation here, but Ms. McMurchie's basically calling Tran a crooked liar, a tool of the developmental propertied classes. Not only that, she most likely prepared her poster before arriving at the hearing, apparently perfectly intent to point her arrow at whomever she was sitting next to.

Look at her cap: It looks like Ms. McMurchie has a "Save Trestles" logo up there, and her shirt boasts a "
Save Trestles Flag," both of which are the insignia of the local Surfrider environmental activist group, identified in the piece.

Now, to be clear, I don't oppose environmental protection, and if there was ever an area of pristine shoreline worth preserving, Trestles should be it; but I do have issues with the routine expression of deceit among activists on the left, more recently in the smears against John McCain and Sarah Palin, which are characteristic of the larger absence of a culture of fair-play on the contemporary left.

Bruce Walker discussed this tendency in his recent essay, "
The Left's Crooked Umpires":

Atlantic Monthly runs an article on John McCain. A photographer, Jill Greenberg, takes pictures of McCain for the piece. She deliberately takes awful photographs, using her skill as a professional to make the senator look as offensive as possible. Charlie Gibson, given the chance to help Americans to get to know the most interesting political figure in decades, uses that opportunity to score cheap political points to demean her instead. These are two perfect examples of the Leftist bias of the media.

But what is it, really, that offends us so much about this bias? There is nothing wrong with having an opinion or incorporating that into coverage of events. We should not apologize for the bias of Christian television stations or Rush Limbaugh. American journalism has historically been biased, but there is a profound difference between the expressed beliefs of opinionated Americans and the creepy bias of the Leftist media. Once, when newspapers were the main source of news in America, many newspapers had partisan names like the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette or the Pottsville Republican. That was fine.

What bothers us about bias in the mainstream media is that the Left lies about its bias. It pretends to be an objective collegial body of neutral professionals. It conceals its opinions and pretends instead to be an honest umpire of the facts. It tries to trick us.

That was what was so very wrong about the Jill Greenberg photo sessions with Senator McCain. Ms. Greenberg pretended to be a genuine professional who would have used the camera in the same way for McCain or Obama. Instead, she used her position as an unbiased professional to fool McCain into trusting her. Then she betrayed that trust....

The Left does not want to argue honestly or to win fights fairly. Leftists believe that the end justifies the means. If that means pretending to be neutral when in fact you have a distinct political agenda, that is fine (as long as you win.) The Left does not believe in honest umpires. Leftists view those umpires of our society as simply players in the grand game of ideological war.
I can hear the leftist response to this thesis: Oh, that's a bunch of bull ... both sides are just as bad, you know, like the old song, "clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right..."

That's clever, but dishonest.

The evidence of dirty tricks just keeps piling up on the left side of the spectrum, for example, with the latest case of
the "grassroots" anti-Palin smear campaign apparently backed by the Obama organization and pushed viral by Daily Kos (the Obama camp's proxy in the leftosphere).

It's underhanded, and symptomatic of the left's political culture of deceit.