How do good people, and honorable institutions, turn bad?
Sociologist Philip Zimbardo notes in “Lucifer Effect” that “bad systems create bad institutions which create bad situations which create bad apples who create bad behaviors.”
In that statement, I see the story of the Obama administration and its relationship to the many bad apples behaving badly in its name. Federal firearms agents run guns to Mexico, seeking to discredit gun owners. Internal Revenue Service agents harass conservative groups and bully political donors. Federal attorneys pour through reporters’ phone records with misleading legal boilerplate.
Through bureaucracy after bureaucracy, faceless regime functionaries punish and intimidate innocent citizens they consider unsubmissive.
The system at the top resulted from an amalgam of Chicago-style political thuggery and shopworn leftist ideology: an unholy union of expedience and amorality.
Institutions that once governed to secure the national welfare now rule to secure the government’s power. Bad situations, from Solyndra to Benghazi, result from this unfortunate redirection of purpose.
Within those bad situations, bad apples take their cue, seize their chances to please the power czars and ideologues at the system’s top. Bad behaviors, once beyond the pale, now bring praise.
Thus, a cascade of malfeasance pours from the system’s top, corrupts instruments of governance and strangles our personal freedoms.
Finally, a startled lapdog press awakens to its own peril. It offers a pathetic little yelp as its choke collar tightens. The muzzle descends. Too late does the lapdog press rise to reassert itself as freedom’s vigilant watchdog.
Leonard Hoy, Greenwood