by Roger Kimball
I have always admired the admonitory wisdom that Auric Goldfinger imparted to James Bond early in Ian Fleming’s novel named for the gold-loving villain: “Once is happenstance. Twice is coincidence. The third time it’s enemy action.”
I have thought often of that sage advisory in recent months as so many once-trustworthy institutions of American life seem to have been weaponized against the people they were meant to serve.
This is, alas, a huge topic, and today I will only scratch the surface.
What makes the rule of law the rule of law is its more-or-less consistent application.
I say “more-or-less” because we live in an imperfect universe and, though we may strive for complete consistency, it will always elude us. But that’s not to say that we can’t say that some societies come closer to the ideal than others.
In a rational society, the laws are few, publicly proclaimed, and impartially enforced. How about in our society?
As to the number, I’ll just say that in 2008, The Heritage Foundation estimated that there were nearly 4,500 federal crimes on the books. That was 13 years ago.
The question of their impartial enforcement brings me to my real subject.
One impediment to impartiality is pragmatic. There are only so many prosecutors and so many judges. Hence the phenomenon of “prosecutorial discretion.”
The Department of Justice has to pick and choose which bad guys to go after because it doesn’t have the resources to go after them all. OK, but is it impartial in its discretion?
No. Which is why another reason for the lack of impartiality is political.
During the Trump years, why was it that the awesome power of the state was routinely brought to bear against anyone in the president’s orbit while people in the Justice Department and various intelligence services could lie, leak, and even alter critical evidence with essentially no consequences?
Why is it that the Biden DOJ “declines to prosecute” five people arrested as Chinese spies while it continues its policy of harassing, arresting, and incarcerating people who were milling about the Capitol on Jan. 6?
Why is it that the Biden DOJ has declined to investigate the scandal of blue-state nursing home deaths in the wake of the COVID-19 hysteria?
“The Department of Justice will not pursue investigations into New York, Pennsylvania, or Michigan nursing home policies,” the Washington Examiner reported, “that resulted in thousands of residential COVID-19 deaths.”
It wasn’t just that the policy of stashing COVID-19 patients in nursing homes was a deadly mistake, there was also a massive cover-up.
In New York, for example, an aide to Gov. Andrew Cuomo admitted in a leaked Zoom video that the Cuomo administration “purposely undercounted nursing home deaths to avoid a federal investigation.”
Don’t try this if you’re a Republican governor.
Meanwhile, what about the battalions of protestors who rampaged throughout American cities last summer, smashing, burning, maiming, and murdering people?
They caused some $2 billion in damages, injured scores, and killed at least a dozen.
What happened to them?
The headline says it all: “Charges Against Hundreds of NYC Rioters, Looters Have Been Dropped.”
It was the same thing in cities across the country. “Portland Drops Charges for 90% Arrested During Recent Riots.”
In Washington, D.C.: “Nearly All Rioters Freed from Jail in D.C., Most Avoid Felony Riot Charges.”
In Minneapolis: “Most Charges Against George Floyd Protesters Dropped, Analysis Shows.”
The moral? George Orwell got to the heart of the matter in Animal Farm: “All animals are equal. But some are more equal than others.”
You see what Goldfinger meant by “enemy action.”
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Roger Kimball is the editor and publisher of The New Criterion and the publisher of Encounter Books. His most recent book is “Who Rules? Sovereignty, Nationalism, and the Fate of Freedom in the 21st Century.”
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