Lying for the Cause: If myths do more for social progress than facts — then why worry?

Victor Davis Hanson opens this post with a terrific list:

Well aside from “If you like your doctor you can keep your doctor,” or blanket amnesty that is and is not lawful for a president to grant, there is a special category of progressive mythology. Or rather a particular cast of “truth tellers,” victims, supposed whistle blowers, and popular liberal icons who spin tales for a supposedly higher good, on the premise that untruth for a cause makes it sort of true.

From the details of Rigoberta Menchú’s memoir, to Tawana Brawley’s supposed rape, to the O. J. “If it doesn’t fit, you must acquit” myth, to the open-and-shut case of the hate-crime crucifixion of Matthew Shepard by savage homophobes, to Dan Rather’s fake but accurate National Guard memo, to the Duke lacrosse team’s supposed racist raping, to Barack Obama’s autobiographic interludes with his girlfriend, to Scott Beauchamp’s “true” stories of American military atrocities in Iraq, to Lena Dunham’s purported right-wing sexual assaulter at Oberlin College (home of the 2013 epidemic of pseudo-racist graffiti), to the pack of University of Virginia fraternity rapists on the loose, to “Hands up, don’t shoot,” we have come to appreciate that facts and truth are not that important, if myths can better serve social progress or the careers of those on the correct side of history.

The new generation of progressive mythmaking has taken up where prior generations left off. In the old progressive mythology, Alger Hiss never passed on U.S. secrets. Instead, he was a tortured idealist, intent on preventing the descent of America into dangerous know-nothing McCarthyism. The Rosenbergs really did not spy for the Soviet Union — or if they did, it was to help a wartime ally with a similar anti-fascist agenda. JFK and RFK were gunned down by right-wing conspirators, fueled by a larger culture of reactionary hatred. Rigoberta Menchú wrote her own factual autobiography — or at least wanted to.

Read more: National Review