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Dear Reason:

I have been
a nearly continuous subscriber to Reason magazine for over
twenty years. There was a time when, for a few days early in each
month, I would arrive at home hoping that there was a "Reason"
to check my mail box. You see, Reason magazine was a very
important part of my life. I read every article, in every issue
I received. In addition, I bought many gift subscriptions over the
years, hoping to influence my family and my friends. I archived
copies for future reference, and as a useful tool for debate and
persuasion. Sadly, those times are gone. I am no longer excited
by Reason, because Reason no longer presents an exciting
and principled defense of "free minds and free markets".

I believe that
Reason has become overly obsessed with its conception of
itself as "the most influential libertarian publication in
America". This has led the editors at Reason to grant
prominent and respectful space to authors promoting overtly statist
and anti-libertarian viewpoints. At the same time, many writers
at Reason act as if they are the sole arbiters of acceptable
libertarian viewpoints. Consider the fact that Matt Welch chose
to attack Ron Paul, Lew Rockwell and Murray Rothbard in his first
editorial as editor in chief at Reason. This decision, coupled
with his willingness to misrepresent the views of Paul, Rockwell
and Rothbard suggest that he is more interested in maintaining acceptable
liberal credentials than in promoting a principled defense of libertarianism.

It should be
apparent to every libertarian that there is a profound difference
between an allegation of racist sentiment and the advocacy
of public policy and actions that actually cause harm to people.
Despite the claims of the holier than thou crowd, all human beings
harbor some prejudices. These include elitism, yokelism (see comments
by Ayn_Randian on the Hit & Run blog to see what I mean),
nationalism, racism, religious intolerance, homophobia, etc… From
a libertarian perspective, all of these prejudices are benign until
they are coupled with a willingness to use force to violate the
rights of others. This distinction is apparently lost on many of
the writers at Reason. Writers like Matt Welch and David
Weigel remain baffled that all libertarians don't share their petty
obsession with the politically incorrect libertarians over at the
Mises Institute. And yet, they think it is reasonable, even respectable,
to give space to people who advocate for the anti-libertarian concept
of aggressive, preemptive war. They also failed to be outraged that
Reason magazine found room to print the thoughts of a woman
whose malignant prejudice against Islam is so extreme that she believes
that it is the duty of Western governments to suspend basic civil
liberties in order to "defeat" it.

In the November
2007 issue, Reason published an interview with Ayaan Hirsi
Ali. In it she states that there are no moderate Muslims, and therefore
that all of Islam must be considered an enemy. In order to crush
this enemy, she endorses an aggressive, preemptive military and
cultural war against Islam. As part of this total war she insists
that Western governments must close all Muslim schools and all Muslim
churches. Interestingly, she believes that the welfare and immigration
polices of the Dutch government play a large role in fostering the
violent actions of some Muslims in her adopted country. She correctly
notes the absurdity of forcing taxpayers to fund "public schools"
that, according to her, preach violence and hatred of others. She
is also correct to point out that it is a lot easier to pursue violence
if you don't have to worry about getting a job. Thus, her profoundly
illiberal views, advocating the annihilation, through government
force, of an entire religion, are deeply influenced by her perception
of the adverse affects of the immigration and welfare policies of
Europe. The tragic irony here is that a woman who appears, in most
respects, to be a remarkable and moral person, has embraced virulent
prejudice against an entire group of people, in part because of
the effect of Europe's welfare and immigration policies.

Milton Friedman,
Murray Rothbard and Ron Paul have all argued that open immigration
and a welfare state cannot co-exist. During his campaign, Ron Paul
repeatedly stressed that current welfare policies create resentment
and hostility directed toward some immigrants, usually the poorest
and neediest. Thus he believes that our perverse and immoral welfare
system must be changed in order for liberal and expansive immigration
to be desirable or practical. During an interview last year, Nick
Gillespie acknowledged the views of Friedman and Rothbard on immigration,
and did not challenge them. Still, he chose to present Ron Paul's
position in the worst possible light. Apparently, Mr. Gillespie
possesses psychic powers. What else could explain his suggestion
that Dr. Paul was being dishonest when describing his objections
to our current welfare and immigration policies? According to Mr.
Gillespie, Dr. Paul was really just pandering to a populist fear
of "brown" people. This characterization was especially
petty and dishonest as Mr. Gillespie needed to look no further than
the pages of his own magazine to find a dramatic example of precisely
what Dr. Paul describes.

Sadly, Reason
is no longer a great magazine. The editors have lost perspective
and have adopted priorities that I find baffling. Is it really so
hard to understand that advocating policies that empower government
to rob innocent people of life, liberty, property and health is
infinitely more dangerous to morality and freedom than some distasteful,
but benign, comments from some old newsletters? I understand that
Reason has provided a platform for libertarian opposition
to the Iraq war and the appalling concept of preemptive aggression
that has been adopted by President Bush, most media pundits, and
most politicians. But, Reason has also provided a platform
for advocates and apologists for the insane, illegal and murderous
agenda of the Bush administration. Considering the fact that these
advocates of preemptive war had virtually every media establishment
in America at their disposal, eager to peddle their views, why did
Reason not take a principled stance against it? By welcoming
these views, Reason has openly endorsed the idea that the
initiation of force is compatible with libertarianism. It is not,
and every writer at Reason should know this.

There are still
many great writers at Reason, and I know that Reason
will continue to provide some excellent commentary on issues and
stories that are important. However, when the Editors at Reason
are willing to compromise on the first principle of libertarianism,
it is clear to me that they have lost their way. Although it saddens
me, I must ask that you cancel my subscription and refund any remaining


7, 2008

Parfitt [send him mail] is the proprietor, with his wife Sarah,
of Alchemy Bicycle Works in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

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