From Kevin Williamson at National Review, Regular Order:
Everybody has an emergency to peddle. They always appear at the most convenient times and in the most convenient places. President Trump has just suffered a humiliating defeat in his confrontation with Congress about funding for his beloved wall — and losing a political contest, or having a disagreement about spending, is not an emergency. President Trump has been in office since January 2017, and if illegal immigration is an emergency now, it was an emergency then, but he has only now got around to declaring a state of emergency. The variable isn’t the level of illegal immigration — it’s Trump’s getting steamrolled by Nancy Pelosi.
The fake hate crimes tend to crop up in the places where real ones are least likely to happen but where people are most eager to have them happen in order to affirm their own petty hatreds, which means the socially segregated spaces occupied by the social-justice Left, college campuses prominent among them. In November, Goucher College was convulsed by a series of threats against black students and racist graffiti, which turned out to be the work of a hoaxer, Fynn Arthur, a black student and member of the lacrosse team who was charged with a criminal offense in the matter. These things have the feel of inevitability: The closest thing to a genuine hate crime to happen at Goucher College was the school’s decision to admit young Jonah Goldberg as an undergraduate.
The “greater truth” is this: The United States of America is a relatively peaceful, extraordinarily prosperous, and fundamentally decent society. Americans are greedy and violent, but we also are generous and brave. Our country is home to flat-Earthers and world-changing geniuses, both of them in unusual numbers. It’s a package deal. We have a relatively ineffective and dysfunctional federal government, and we have social differences that have put the two main modes of American life (and the political tendencies related to them) at odds with one another, and that more bitterly than is necessary. Those are real problems.
We’ll sort them out — if we allow the excellent institutions we have painstakingly constructed to do that perform as necessary. These include the separation of powers, the rule of law, due process and the presumption of innocence, models of guilt and entitlement that are individual rather than racial or otherwise corporate, freedom of speech, open discourse and inquiry, adversarial political parties, and — this is almost lost — a meaningful distinction between public and private things. The purpose of emergencies — and, especially, phony emergencies — is to empower partisans and advocates and people with power to overrule those institutions in the pursuit of their own immediate parochial goals, whether those include a wall along the southern border or a mandatory seminar on “rape culture” at Yale. Conservative budget nerds often speak of their desire to see Congress return to “regular order.” But it isn’t just Congress that needs to return to regular order — so do the presidency, and the courts, and the people.