If there’s one thing that the Tucson shooting has provoked, it’s a lot of people going back and flushing a whole bunch of stuff down the memory holes. History must be unwritten, embarrassing items purged and denied, awkward truths must be ignored.
Of course, this is the internet, and nothing is ever truly forgotten — and one’s foes will often make copies and screenshots before they expose your embarrassing postings before they expose them, so they can properly denounce you for your “admission of guilt.”
This round has, thus far, most of the usual suspects.
Leading off the rounds of “j’accuse!” is Charles Johnson. One of Charles’ loyal sycophants noted that Glenn Beck has a rotating set of stock images on his web site, and one of them features Beck hamming it up in a James Bond kind of pose — with a gun. ZOMG! shouted Charles, and someone at Beck’s staff said “you know, we got a lot of images in the rotation — let’s take this one down, ‘cuz we don’t want the grief.” Which only caused Charles to double-down and play the “you took it down because you’re GUILTY!” card.
Now, it must be remembered that Charles is a legend in the “quietly unwrite history” field. Once he started his descent into the left and madness (but I repeat myself), he got busy puling a Stalin and erasing out embarrassing articles and links and comments. Catching him at it became a game for a while (I even played it once, and sat on a couple of others for a rainy day. (It’s gotten more challenging since Charles blocked his archives and search functions to all but his approved rumpswabs and lickspittles.) My favorite was when he — for once — admitted when he was caught.
Oh, what the hell. Remember Jon Stewart’s “Rally to Restore Sanity?” Charles was all in favor of that. He had nothing but kind words for it. He certainly didn’t have any harsh words for the inclusion of the former Cat Stevens, now known as Yusuf Islam — the former folk singer now devout Muslim, for whom the term “Islamopop” was invented to describe his using his musical talents to raise money and provide “peacefu” cover for Islamists and Islamist causes.
OK, enough of that. So Glenn Beck took down a silly graphic that was giving his enemies way, way too much fun. You know who else took down a graphic immediately after the Tucson shooting? Sarah Palin, who removed the now-infamous “targeted districts” map that highlighted 20 Congressional districts — including that of Gabrielle Giffords. The stated reason: it was done out of respect for the Giffords family, and besides was for an election that was over two months past. It simply wasn’t that important.
Which brings up another legend in the “unwriting history field — Daily Kos. One Kos diarist happens to be a Giffords constituent and have a history of gun violence. Days before the shooting, he finally snapped when she didn’t vote for Nancy Pelosi for Speaker. In fact, she was “dead to him.”
Of course, the diarist was horrified when someone decided to make her dead to everyone, so he took down the article. But that wasn’t done out of guilt. Oh, no. That was done out of respect for the family. Just like Kos, after accusing everyone under the sun of inciting the attack for their use of violent, military, hostile rhetoric and imagery against Giffords, decided to start playing games with an article of his own from 2008 when he talked about “targeting” her and putting her “on the bullseye.”
Note carefully: when “our” side goes and scrubs history, it’s done out of sensitivity and respect, or accuracy, or to (invisibly) correct “mistakes” or just plain decency. When “they” do the very same thing, it’s an iron-clad admission of guilt.
It gets dizzying. That’s partly why I decided, years ago, to simply not play that game. It wasn’t entirely done out of principle; I know that my Web Fu is weak, and I’d never be able to completely eradicate all traces of something I’d published. For example, one of my earliest pieces used a rather nasty racial epithet that I’ve never let myself forget. But every time I think about going back and removing it, I realize that I’ll be starting down the same path as Johnson and Kos — but since I suck at that, I’d be busted immediately. So I let it stand, but this is the first time I’ve ever even mentioned it. And no, I’m not going to point it out. Trust me, it’s there.
The Rubaiyat Of Omar Khayyam contains the famous lines:
The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ,
Moves on: nor all your Piety nor Wit
Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line,
Nor all your Tears wash out a Word of it.
The internet makes it easier to try to “cancel half a Line,” or more, so it’s extremely tempting. But that same internet makes it virtually impossible to do so fully — which means it makes the attempt incredibly transparent.
So don’t even try.