Sunday, May 27, 2007

The Blame-America Libertarians

One wouldn’t normally comment on the absurd notion, put forth by one Ron Paul, that we brought the Islamic attack of 9/11 on ourselves; but the Paulist version comes from an obscure source on the right and is worth noting in passing. First let me note that I argued that the cause of 9/11 is religious in origin. The Paulist faction of the libertarian movement holds that these attacks were the unintended consequences of our foreign policy – we brought it on ourselves.

But what if the perpetrators attacked us on 9/11 because of one of the many contradictory grievances found in the rants of a grotesque medieval savage? The jihadists are, of course, moral agents whose excuses have little bearing on their guilt. Regardless of which of our actions they use to rationalize their attack, it is better that we learn sooner rather than later that we have an enemy in this world – preferable before they have nuclear weapons.

The Paulist libertarians argue that had we not inflamed them we wouldn’t have suffered that specific attack at that time. Perhaps, perhaps not! One academic argues it is just as respectable to complain that our past weakness emboldened the enemy as to claim that our egregious acts of injustice understandably led to the attack of 9/11. While such critics are wrong, they are worse than wrong. They are taking the enemy’s side.

They are making common cause with the enemy to further pet policies that happen to coincide with the enemy’s demands. It is reasonable to question the cost of being the world’s police. But it is a very different matter to take the side of the world’s criminals, freaks, and savages whose reason for our withdrawal is motivated by the desire to establish an oppressive regime. And it is despicable to cite the actions of such vicious perpetrators as grounds to change our policy.

Would one use McVeigh’s attack in Oklahoma as grounds to criticize the Clinton/Reno policy in Waco? Would one exploit the attacks on abortion clinics to warn of the “unintended consequences” of Roe vs. Wade? Would one cite eco-terrorist attacks as proof of the problems of unconstrained capitalism? What scoundrel would cite a vicious terrorist in such manner?

Normally Ron Paul’s blame-America attacks would remove him from any reasonable discussion. However, his presence in the debates gives the other candidates a proxy for the far left viewpoint commonly found among Democrats. He can be a perfect stand-in and punching bag. He has already helped Rudy Giuliani. Don’t be surprised if others follow suit just to stay competitive. This may be an interesting race.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Let's Take Them On!

Ayaan Hirsi Ali spoke to a libertarian audience today, at the Waldorf-Astoria. Her opening line was: if I were talking to a Muslim audience the first thing I would say is “Islam is bad for you.” But instead she wanted to remind us about what is right about the West and why we need to fight for our core principles.

The freedom of Holland allowed her to leave Islam and live a much better life. Yet she told a story of how young Moslem women in Holland are held back not so much by the state but by the chains of religion. Islam is a “superstition” that relies on “fear” of divine punishment. It teaches women to submit and children to obey; the fear of God is ultimately ingrained in the willing believer. The “individual” learns to conform to the “collective.” She stressed repeatedly that individualism is the enemy of Islam.

We must maintain our “vigilance.” “Individual happiness” and “individual freedom,” which we enjoy in abundance, “can’t be taken for granted.” Our “Enlightenment” heritage is threatened by “irrational” superstition that seeks tosubordinate the individual.” She ended her speech with a firm call to arms: “Let’s take them on!”

In her answer to questions she touched upon Holland’s “welfare system,” alleged “hijacking” of Islam, the limits of democracy, the inherent contradiction between Islam and liberalism, the hopelessness of Islam as a doctrine, and the hope for Muslims as a people.

When asked about encountering religious Americans she said that in the “seven to eight months” here she has “not been confronted with that much religiosity” because here you can “choose who to associate.” She said that most of what she hears about American fundamentalists doesn’t bother her except for the prospects of teaching “Creationism” in the schools. You should not teach “superstition in the science class.” Otherwise, she says, here you are free to go your own way mainly because we are not forced together by an overbearing state--in contract to Holland.

The theme of individualism, both personally and politically, was woven through out her speech and answers to questions. The audience was quite receptive.