Editor’s note: A version of this article first appeared at Forbes.com.
The behavior of the National Park Service during the government shutdown has been truly shocking. As has been widely reported, Park Service employees have been told to make life as uncomfortable as possible for people, and have flourished in that endeavor. They have acted crudely and unprofessionally, allowing themselves to be used politically by the White House in its PR campaign.
If you’re not familiar with what I’m talking about, then please start Googling. There are frightening first-person accounts everywhere. Among the worst examples was a case innocently covered by a small Massachusetts newspaper that reported on a group of tourists traveling to Yellowstone National Park. The tourists described the Park Service as “Gestapo”-like in its tactics.
That, of course, is an exaggeration. But the fact that a group of apolitical citizens would invoke such hyperbole to describe how they were treated really says something.
The Weekly Standard, a conservative source, argues in an editorial that the Park Service’s conduct “might be the biggest scandal of the Obama administration.” The Standard rattled off examples of abuses during the shutdown, highlighting the most egregious of them all, the shameless scene at the World War II Memorial:
People first noticed what the NPS was up to when the World War II Memorial on the National Mall was “closed.” Just to be clear, the memorial is an open plaza. There is nothing to operate. Sometimes there might be a ranger standing around. But he’s not collecting tickets or opening gates. Putting up barricades and posting guards to “close” the World War II Memorial takes more resources and manpower than “keeping it open.”
Dr. Paul Kengor is professor of political science at Grove City College, executive director of The Center for Vision & Values, and author of the book, “The Communist: Frank Marshall Davis, The Untold Story of Barack Obama’s Mentor.” His other books include "The Crusader: Ronald Reagan and the Fall of Communism" and "Dupes: How America’s Adversaries Have Manipulated Progressives for a Century."