Paging Mr. Orwell


New York Sun

June 21, 2016


It's hard to recall a moment when the American Justice Department has looked so ridiculous as in its censoring transcripts of the 911 calls from the gunman at Orlando. George Orwell couldn't have made it up. The Justice Department redacted references to Omar Mateen's mention of the Islamic State and his pledge of loyalty to its leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. It drew a demand from Speaker Paul Ryan for the Obama administration to "release the full, un-redacted transcript" of the gunman's 911 calls. He called Justice's redactions "preposterous."

Eventually the administration caved, but not before Attorney General Lynch, who had a fine reputation as a prosecutor, was met with incredulity and ridicule on the Internet. A writer for Tablet Magazine rushed out an open letter to Mrs. Lynch that was dripping with sarcasm. "You, like the president, know that all that talk of radical Islam having anything at all to do with any violent attack on innocent civilians anywhere is just a 'political distraction,' the kind of drivel only dumb Republicans believe. We're enlightened. We know better. And we have the power to literally rewrite history."

The writer of the open letter, Liel Liebovitz, went on to challenge Mrs. Lynch to rewrite Hitler. "You know that speech Hitler gave in Berlin on January of 1939? The one about the Jews? It's all just a load of propaganda; we all know that ideology had nothing to do with Hitler's feelings, and that his actions were motivated instead by his confusion about conforming to traditional gender norms and his frustration about Germany's income inequality in the wake of World War I. Edit that one too, will ya'?"

We don't discount the concerns of President Obama in respect of the fact that the Islamist extremists levying this war do not represent all of Islam. We get his desire to protect moderate Muslims from retribution for a perverted ideology. President George W. Bush had a similar concern, as do we. What Mr. Obama doesn't seem to get is that Americans are not stupid. We are an intelligent, fair-minded people, who elect our legislatures and fill our jury pools. It is an insult to every one of us to suggest that we can't handle the truth about the killer who struck at Orlando.

This question is going to be an important test in this election, we predict who comes out where on this head. Is Hillary Clinton, who holds herself out as a more serious, more hawkish foreign policy person than the president she once served, going to run interference for him? Is Donald Trump going to make this an issue? Does James Comey understand that his own credibility as director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation is a stake? Who is going to redeem the warnings of George Orwell in "Nineteen Eight-Four" and "Politics and the English Language"?