A brief observation on the rule of law, courtesy of CS Lewis

It is disheartening, to say the least, to have our President have to constantly reassure the citizens who elected him that he is not an emperor. It’s more disheartening to realize why the questions keep coming up. Obama is wont to order around the Congress, browbeat the lapdog press when they remember their bark, scold people who insist on their rights of free speech and self-defense, and demagogue the most successful members of the society for their incomes.

This last holds a particular sticking point. Obama either ignores or scoffs at any suggestion that his own lavish vacations and 1% perks are a problem. Normally, you’d notice if the guy calling you to the ramparts of the class struggle was well back of the front lines… all the way back at a luxury resort, golfing, and then issuing a denunciation of “millionaire and billionaire corporate jet owners” from the steps of his own private jumbo jet. It should be even more glaring that, unlike the big wigs, the President does all of this on the public’s nickel.

And now we have the latest, that the President-who-is-not-an-emperor nevertheless holds himself to have the authority to order the deaths of American citizens on American soil via drone strikes, without due process or even probable cause. The Constitutional prohibitions on this sort of thing are numerous and stringent. The thing that really gobsmacks me on this is the lack of reaction among the same folks who, ten years ago, saw the hobnailed boot of fascism in every step of the prior President. There was a long and protracted argument about this at the time, I recall… and the debate centered on whether the measures taken then were actual violations, and why. But now we don’t even get the courtesy of that debate, because dissent is no longer the highest (or any) form of patriotism.

How is this even possible? People are not so foolish to hold such wildly different standards based just on the letter behind the politician’s name, are they? And honestly, I don’t think they are. In fact, I don’t think  that thinking has much to do with it. The standard isn’t reasonable, in the sense that it doesn’t involve reason at all. The standard is emotional. One group is the Other, and the first group is all that stands against them and all their foul works. So the same exact action (jet-setting to lavish vacations, questioning the motives and actions of the Government) is simultaneously the most shameless of deeds and not a big deal. The standard is not Right vs. Wrong, or Lawful vs. Illegal, but US vs. THEM.

It’s no way to run things. And I don’t think that this is a controversial position. Rule of Law isn’t always popular, but most of the time, most of us from both sides of the political divide agree to it, because the alternative is disastrous. And yet, there’s that us vs. them thing that kicks in when it’s “our guy” getting dinged for acting like a komissar. There’s a list of excuses like “Your side did it first” and “It’s necessary for progress” and “But there’s a crisis.”

And some people just dispense altogether with excuses and do it because They Know Better. And that gets us to CS Lewis, and The Magician’s Nephew. The Magician in question explains to said Nephew that “Men like me who possess hidden wisdom, are freed from common rules just as we are cut off from common pleasures. Ours, my boy, is a high and lonely destiny.”

Digory saw through Uncle Andrew, of course. Quoting the entire exchange would not fall under Fair Use, I’m afraid, but it’s the second chapter, and much of it will sound all too familiar to the reader.


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