In the summer of 2019, as Joe Biden embarked on the campaign that would culminate in his presidency, he delivered a stemwinder before a group of Iowans. “We choose truth over facts,” he awkwardly bellowed. The most charitable interpretation of this misstatement would be to write this off as yet another example of the violence he regularly does to the English Language. But perhaps that’s a bit too generous. After all, Biden and his ideological allies do occasionally subordinate facts to their preferred “truth.”

One of those factually unsupported “truths” is that American border-patrol agents engaged in a barbarous assault on black Haitian migrants in September 2021. Mounted on horseback, the border agents were photographed “whipping” a group of illegal aliens in the effort to corral them. These were images that harkened back to the antebellum South—at least, they were to those for whom the antebellum South is an omnipresent but unseen force that exerts its malign influence on nearly every aspect of modern America.

Christine Rosen curated the overwrought reaction that the scene produced among those most sensitive to anything even remotely evocative of America’s tainted legacy. “Border patrol is mounted on horseback rounding up Haitian refugees with whips,” former HUD Sec. Julian Castro wrote. “This is unfathomable cruelty towards people fleeing disaster and political ruin.” Vice President Kamala Harris agreed. “What I saw depicted about those individuals on horseback treating human beings the way they were, was horrible,” she said. “That’s not who the Biden and Harris administration is,” White House Press Sec. Jen Psaki said of the “horrific and horrible” images. President Biden called the agents’ actions “totally outrageous” and pledged that “those people will pay.”

“I’m going to let the investigation run its course. But the pictures that I observed troubled me profoundly,” the border-patrol agents’ boss, Homeland Security Chief Alejandro Mayorkas said. He added that he was “horrified” by the images and insisted that the agents’ behavior “defies all of the values” of his agency and the country. But when that investigation concluded, Customs and Border Protection’s Office of Personal Responsibility confirmed that the left had worked itself into a lather over what amounted to a misapprehension. The agents were not “whipping” anyone, and what observers confused for a lash was simple horse tack. The agents acted “under the color of law” to carry out their orders to “stop people from crossing the border.”

That should have been that. But the facts cannot be allowed to get in the way of the “truth.” Despite the border-patrol agents’ exoneration following a six-month inquiry into this event, the Department of Homeland Security is reportedly prepared to “discipline” the agents who were photographed brandishing reins in a manner that upset Democrats. They won’t be criminally charged—they infringed against no statute—but they could face punishment for committing “administrative violations.” The agents in question have already been sidelined and “are prohibited from having contact with migrants,” according to the New York Post. It remains to be seen what “violations” they committed, but it’s a safe bet that their superiors will think of something.

You see, the “truth” to which the president and this administration are committed is that the United States is institutionally racist, even when those institutions function as intended and in a colorblind fashion. “America has a long history of systemic racism,” Vice President Kamala Harris said in a joint primetime address alongside the president following the conviction of Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin of the murder of George Floyd. “The systemic racism is a stain on our nation’s soul.” Given the tenor of her speech, you’d be forgiven for thinking a grave injustice had been done. But the facts could not be allowed to speak for themselves at the risk of the greater “truth.”

Likewise, at the apex of the #MeToo movement in 2018, the Thomson Reuters Foundation published a survey of 550 academics in the field of women’s issues. That survey found that the United States ranked among the top 10 worst countries on Earth for women. In America, women were said to be subject to state-sanctioned campaigns of sexual violence and coercion, human trafficking, and general harassment akin to that which is endured by women in places like Syria, Somalia, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Democratic Republic of Congo, Yemen, and Nigeria. This abject nonsense was tolerated at the time, not because it could be buttressed with evidence, but because it revealed a greater “truth” about the country—one preferred by the left-wing activist classes in media, academia, and politics.

These aren’t truths so much as stories, narratives that reinforce a variety of unlovely assumptions about life in America. When the facts get in the way of that preferred worldview, the facts are the first thing to go.

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