Rebirth of Reason


Do "liberals" Care for Liberty?
by 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 our freedoms.

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.
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