By CHRIS POWELL
Not so long ago censoriousness was a phenomenon of the political right. Mere liberals were called communists and spies and drummed out of their jobs. The political right sought to ban books and writers as subversive or dirty. Peace demonstrators were called commies too and assaulted by rightists.
Today censoriousness is a phenomenon of the political left, especially here in Connecticut.
At a Senate hearing last week Connecticut U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal hectored Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg for refusing to terminate the account of right-wing provocateur Steve Bannon.
Two weeks ago a Stratford police sergeant was suspended without pay for three days and ordered to undergo "implicit bias training" for having written on Facebook that the Black Lives Matter movement is a "terrorist organization" because it is against police. The sergeant was not accused of any misconduct on the job. He was punished only for expressing a politically incorrect opinion in his personal life.
Also two weeks ago the leader of a Manchester group of social justice warriors went to a restaurant in East Windsor to confront its manager about the supposed racism of a supposed noose hanging from the restaurant's ceiling.
The "noose" was only the wrapped electric cord of an antique soldering iron that long had been part of the restaurant's decor. But the social justice warriors eagerly construed it as a tribute to the Ku Klux Klan, as if it really was a noose, as if it really could be used to hang anyone, as if it really had been meant to suggest hanging anyone, and as if, before electrocution and lethal injection, hanging wasn't the primary method of capital punishment rather than something aimed at Black people particularly.
While no one had accused the restaurant of mistreating anyone, of course the restaurant manager declined to dispute the silly accusation - declined to tell the social justice warriors that everything is not necessarily about those who take offense, or that, just as a cigar is sometimes just a cigar, sometimes a wrapped electric cord is just a wrapped electric cord. Instead the manager went beyond apologizing and removing the soldering iron and cord; he also invited the emissary of the social justice warriors to inspect the rest of the premises to alert him to anything else they might find offensive.
The manager well understood the social justice warrior message, which was straight out of gangsterism: "Nice little business you got here. Shame if something should happen to it" - like a picket line chanting angry slogans and scaring customers away, something the social justice warriors indeed had been contemplating.
Amid this explosion of censoriousness, where is the civil liberties union? Most of the time it's just striking politically correct poses itself as freedom of expression is lost.
Doing the right thing for the wrong reason is still better than doing the wrong thing, even if President Trump excels at bad motives. Now he seems to want to get U.S. soldiers out of Afghanistan before he leaves office, to secure something of a political legacy. U.S. soldiers have been in Afghanistan for almost 20 years without result, and Trump has had four years to bring them home, but better late than never.
This bothers Connecticut U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy, who aspires to be a foreign policy expert. "I support a swift and orderly drawdown of U.S. forces from Iraq and Afghanistan," Murphy says, but "not on President Trump's political timeline. The Afghan government is engaged in sensitive negotiations with the Taliban over the country's political and social order, and we should use our leverage to help them get the best deal possible."
Withdrawal policy, Murphy concludes, should be left to the incoming president.
How respectable sounding - and how empty and false. For nearly everyone knows that Taliban promises will be unenforceable and quickly betrayed, that as ruthless fanatics amid anarchy the Taliban will win, that most Afghans don't care enough to fight fanaticism, that whatever the United States bestows on the Afghan "government" will fall to the Taliban, and that Americans themselves have no reason to care, Afghanistan long having become Vietnam all over again.
Murphy is striving to serve the imperialist Washington establishment, not Connecticut or the country.
Chris Powell is a columnist for the Journal Inquirer in Manchester.