by John Bottoms
In his recent article for u201CLaissez Faire Books,u201D David Brown accuses Burt Blumert and the writers at Lew Rockwell of sacrificing truth to ideology regarding the War on Terrorism, and falsely accusing Bill Bennett's AVOT of seeking to stamp out free speech. Brown previously admonished Blumert and Justin Raimondo of antiwar.com of using hyperbole to the same ends. I've read AVOT's websites, and it's true that nowhere do they suggest that anti-war types be rounded up, imprisoned, or otherwise violated. Brown even found an innocent Bennett quote that war critics u201Care exercising a Constitutional right and that is fine.u201D My own search came up with this more ominous Bennett quote: u201CIt's your constitutional right to criticize. But when you criticize, you take the consequences for your words. Your words may be responded to and your words can be interpreted in such ways that they hurt the national resolve.u201D One shudders at exactly what these u201Cconsequencesu201D might be.
But the map is not the territory, and what Bill Bennett says is a long way from what he does. As drug czar under Bush I, Bennett gave countless speeches supporting his drug war, but his actions have left thousands rotting in prison because of America's failed drug war, militarized the police and their jackbooted antics, incarcerated a large percentage of young black males for victimless crimes, abolished financial privacy, and generally moved America toward a police state. Make no mistake, these are criminal acts, and the kingpins of these activities are criminals, especially Bill Bennett. And he wasn't just following orders. Am I using hyperbole here or just calling a spade a spade? You decide.
In contrast, whatever you think of the intellectual honesty of Burt Blumert and the other writers at LewRockwell.com or Justin Raimondo, they don't kill innocents (though Justin's picture might leave some doubt), they don't imprison drug users, and they don't sponsor midnight raids at people's homes. If they have hidden agendas, or if they engage in hyperbole, their readers are free to figure that out for themselves and judge things accordingly. Personally, I'll take Rockwell-writer Jeff Elkins' u201CThank You, William J. Bennettu201D agenda over that of Bill Bennett any day.
Bennett says he's going to u201Ceducate the publicu201D but his history is one of incarcerating it. So when Bennett's AVOT threatens to u201Cwage holy war against those who would weaken America's resolve to fight terrorism,u201D we're right to be scared. Bennett's tool is violence, indirectly at the taxpayer-supported, centralizing, anti-parent Education Department, or more directly as drug czar. Rockwell's tool is persuasion. You choose whose u201Cagendau201D is preferable.
This is not an ad hominem attack on Bill Bennett. I'm not saying that Bennett's opinions about the War on Terrorism are wrong because he's a bad guy, only that he may someday give the order to have you thrown into the gulag, because that's his modus operandi. Or, as de facto propaganda czar, he's helping to create an environment in which some other thug might give the order. Some might accuse me of pursuing my anarchist anti-drug-war agenda at Bill Bennett's expense. Fine, let them explain how the drug war has made America a better place, and provide a moral defense for imprisoning drug users and those who sell to them. As Dave Barry says, I'm not making this up.
Bennett's (and Brown's) main point is that anti-war writers such as Justin Raimondo, Lew Rockwell and Burt Blumert may weaken America's resolve to fight terrorism, and the western world is pitted in a struggle for survival against the forces of radical Islam. The anti-war writers see terrorism as a criminal conspiracy which should be dealt with by international policing and an engaged public, and when they question attacking Iraq and other countries, they're only trying to weaken America's resolve to create a global empire. Whichever world view one accepts, Bill Bennett is grievously u201Cdamaged goodsu201D and a poor choice for advocate.
John Bottoms is a consulting engineer and writer in Phoenix, Arizona
Author's note: Unfortunately, AVOI and emperor.org don't really exist. They're just my spoof on AVOT and empower.org. But authors are encouraged to u201Cjoinu201D and write articles under the AVOI header. Just right-click on the graphic and u201Ccopyu201D the GIF file for later use. And any ambitious people out there have my full blessing in creating a real u201CAmericans for Victory over Intimidation.u201D
John Bottoms [send him mail] is usually able to keep his sarcasm under control in Phoenix, Arizona.