Do ?liberals? Care for Liberty?
Tibor R. Machan
I assume most of those who read this column have heard modern liberals
proclaim their the deep concern civil liberties and due process. Among
them many tell us they are upset about how President George W. Bush and
most of those on his team are willing to sacrifice these so as to carry on
with "the war on terror." These liberals express earnest concern about
how the rights of detainees are violated. They lament how Americans are
being subjected to unlawful wiretapping. They are very upset with certain
provisions of the Patriot Act and similar measures that they claim violate
our rights. These liberals profess real worry about our loss of liberties.
I don't believe them. I am convinced they are not at all serious about
liberty. They are merely playing power politics?here is a great
opportunity to stick it to old George whose own rhetoric about how he
favors freedom for everyone, us here at home and Iraqis and others abroad,
can be shown to be disingenuous if indeed the war on terror is fought at
the expense of our liberties.
Why don?t I buy that these liberals are authentic champions of civil
liberties and due process, you may ask. Aren't warnings that there's too
much concern for security and too little for liberty to be proof that they
are sincerely worried? Certainly, libertarians share this worry and so
they may be tempted to take these liberals or, rather, democratic
socialists and other Leftists, to be their allies.
But do not trust the Left, I say?they have here, as nearly anywhere else,
a not so hidden agenda. This is to gain power so they can govern us all
with an iron fist so we conform to their very dubious and discredited
standards of how we all ought to live.
How does one discern such an agenda without doing extensive research?
Most people don?t have the time and resources to do the work to find out
whether to trust those on the Left who say they are honest champions of
liberty, especially civil rights and due process. What they do hear or
read is that most on the Left are critical of George Bush and his recently
appointed Attorney General Alberto Gonzales because, it is argued, these
people are neglectful of our rights and freedoms. Isn?t that good enough
to link arms with them and support their agenda?
Actually, the Left is mostly feigning concern about these important
American values, and here is how to know without having to become an
expert about it all. Just consider that when it comes to environmental
issues, there's absolutely no concern about due process and civil
liberties by most of those on the Left. For example, former Vice-President
Al Gore and his followers care not a whit about liberty but only about
security. When Gore himself voices?well, actually bellows?his warnings
about Global Warming, climate change, and other environmental topics, he
is fully committed to do something, anything, with no care at all about
our individual liberties, civil or other. Because of the alleged risks he
has become convinced of, he is perfectly willing to ride roughshod over
Now let?s notice that the precautionary policies urged on us by the
environmental Left are no different from the precautionary policies urged
by the anti-terrorist Right. Both sides would cavalierly cast asides
concerns about individual rights, civil liberties and due process when it
comes to its own variety of grave hazards?be it terrorism or environmental
catastrophe. But completely reject Benjamin Franklin's admonition that
"Those Who Sacrifice Liberty for Security Deserve Neither."
That the Left has generally no concern for liberty?despite its support
for the rhetoric of the ACLU and all its hand-wringing about how various
provisions of the Patriot Act oppress us?should be evident from this
alone, as well as some other items on its agenda, such as political
correctness, which is an assault on free speech, government mandated
affirmative action, which violates freedom of association, all varieties
of government regulation, which amount to prior restraint, and, of course,
all the property takings in support of endangered species?many of which
aren't, by the way?that the ACLU never objects to despite how they go
against the U. S. Constitution. All of this demonstrates beyond a
reasonable doubt that the Left is not serious about civil liberties, due
process and, in general, individual rights.
I am very much for heeding Franklin's warning but I distrust those on the
Left who make like they join me in my concerns. I suggest you do too.