It was another big week for The Leader: Not only did he freak out the Japanese Prime Minister and promote new and dumber claims of voter fraud, he also got his ass handed to him by first one federal judge, then by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, on his (Don’t Call It a) Muslim Ban.
The Leader reacted to the 3–0 ruling with his customary authoritarian bluster (“SEE YOU IN COURT,” blaming the judiciary for future terrorist attacks, etc). Rightbloggers who in recent years cried “tyranny” anytime President Obama issued executive orders, but have since January 20, 2017, become big fans of executive power, followed The Leader’s lead, but with bigger words.
Like The Leader, they lashed out at the judges, reviving the ancient right-wing “black-robed masters” theme. “A bunch of clowns in a black robe” had left the nation vulnerable to attack, snarled radio shouter Mark Levin; “black-robed politicians on the Left Coast handcuff Trump, keeping the borders wide open for terrorists,” cried FrontPageMag.
“The will of a nation 320 million strong is expressed through its duly elected representatives, and laws are passed…and then that will is thwarted by five black-robed lawyers in a central-government tribunal,” brooded Selwyn Duke at American Thinker. He offered patriots a choice: “We can continue drinking the judicial-supremacy Kool-Aid and committing national suicide, or we can drain the swamp infested with black-robed tyrants. It’s impotence for them – or irrelevancy for us.” Why do we even have judges, citizens?
“It’s Not Just the Black Lives Matter — We Have Black Robes Matter” said Rush Limbaugh, who knows gags always go over better with his audience when you add racism. Fox News factotum Eric Bolling called on The Leader to “defy the ninth circuit court of appeals’ decision, and continue the travel ban…”
At the American Spectator, Ben Stein declared “Subversives in Black Robes” had enacted “the equivalent of Japan suing FDR in 1941, saying that if the USA went to war against Japan, many Japanese would be killed and wounded.” This would imply that America is about to declare war against the seven proscribed countries; maybe Stein has an inside source.
To show how wrong the blackrobes had been, rightbloggers scraped together as many terror-related criminals from the seven countries as they could. “Study Proves Judges Wrong — 72 Convicted Terrorists Have Come From Travel-Ban Countries” since 2001, howled the Daily Caller, citing research from the Center for Immigration Studies run by National Review writer and ultra-anti-immigration hardliner Mark Krikorian. (Their source material is in this spreadsheet; many of the convictions are on “material support” charges, which are notoriously used to entrap dummies.) The center did not specify in its posting how many actual deaths could be attributed to the 72 immigrants, though they claimed 33 of them had committed “very serious terror-related crimes.”
“The information in this report was compiled by Senate staff from open sources, and certainly could have been found by the judges if they or their clerks had looked for it,” said the center. Guess they didn’t want to piss off The Leader by suggesting his people could have looked it up, too.
Daintier rightbloggers, like the staff of the National Review — who, I will never tire of reminding you, pledged themselves “NeverTrump” less than a year ago — tried to make it look classier.
NR’s Jim Geraghty referred to the Ninth Circuit as “San Francisco’s Court of Appeals” (“The Trump administration’s loss in the Court of Appeals of the Ninth Circuit — it might as well just be called ‘the San Francisco court’ — isn’t surprising…”). Here Geraghty was reviving another conservative tradition; older readers will recall Reaganite Jeanne Kirkpatrick referring to the Democratic Party in 1984 as “the San Francisco Democrats,” a play on the old association of San Francisco with homosexuality, which went over big with the folks who laughed at gay people for dying of AIDS. Ah, the glory days of the Gipper!
“The unanimous ruling is the type of lunacy with which the Ninth Circuit has become synonymous,” claimed the National Review editorial board, citing the example of Boumediene v. Bush — a case where the Ninth said the Bush administration had no right to hold and torture some guy at Guantanamo without due process, a decision with which the Supreme Court later agreed. This finding may seem like simple justice to you, but torturing guys grabbed off the street is just SOP at NR, and its editors insisted that Boumediene “radically altered the separation-of-powers doctrine on which our Constitution is founded.” They blamed its victory on “the Supreme Court’s liberal bloc,” which apparently held a hammerlock majority in 2008, which will come as a shock to readers who remember decisions like Citizens United in 2010.
Jonah Goldberg, whose big claim to fame is his theory that liberals are the real Nazis (to which theory the rule of The Leader has not been kind), tried drunk frat boy humor, turning “never go full retard” from Tropic Thunder into “never go full Ninth Circuit.” When that bombed, Goldberg tried, “I think it sounds better in Latin” (a few laugh-coughs in the back), then a gag Scalia used to tell (brief, manic clapping by one guy who requested a seat near the bathroom). Then he said, “Yes, the West Coast’s federal appellate court has the highest rate of cases that have been oveturned by the Supreme Court,” which, you guessed it, is bullshit.
A bucket nestling each foot, Goldberg lumbered through more jokes (“shall the commander-in-chief call to make sure he’s not interfering with anyone’s plan to take a few easy courses by day and smoke a lot of hash by night?”) before collapsing into a heap of paychecks.
Longtime torture enthusiast Andrew C. McCarthy said the real question wasn’t “How many terrorist attacks have been committed by immigrants from this handful of Muslim-majority countries?” — because “such questions are designed to make vetting Muslims seem inconceivable,” which was the opposite of his goal — but instead “Do you think Islam needs reform?” McCarthy answered that it did, told some scary sleeper-cell stories, and accused civil libertarians of trying to “pretend that there is no obvious subset of Muslims who are hostile to our country.”
Perhaps sensing his readers might be suffering from vilification burnout, McCarthy pretended he wished to “embrace our Islamic friends while excluding our sharia-supremacist enemies,” and suggested doing so by demanding these good Muslims hunt down and rat out bad Muslims. One can guess how a hardline anti-Muslim policy, with the threat of expulsion behind it, might be used to scare them into coming up with some names pronto.
“The cultural dysfunction that leads to radicalization is a more intractable problem,” concurred David French. In fact, he said, “recent terror attacks from immigrants who were radicalized well after they came to the United States” proved “even the best screening system couldn’t have discovered intentions they didn’t possess before they arrived.” These Muslims can’t help it — jihad’s in their blood!
Some of the brethren tried to counsel The Leader. National Review’s Ian Tuttle wept that “the administration fumbled its opening gambit.” If only they’d asked Ian Tuttle! He could have told The Leader that “the Left would be gunning” for him, “to delegitimize him, humiliate him, crush him, using any weapon available…”
Tuttle’s colleague Dan McLaughlin concurred: “The Administration should try to avoid letting its cases be so hard when they don’t need to be. But it should also be prepared for the fact that the courts are not likely to give it a fair shake.”
See? they seem to say: The black-robed masters with their so-called “laws” will never respect you, Leader, so help us to help you; we may cluck our tongues quietly at the crazy things you say, but when the next terrorist attack hits, we’ll be at your side, flags flying and fists shaking. You’ll need us then, Leader — when it comes to exploiting terrorism, we wrote the book.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on February 13, 2017