State Murder as a ‘Moral Enterprise’

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Recently by William Norman Grigg: From the Right To Resist the ‘Duty To Submit’

"God did not just give us rights," pontificated His High Holiness Rick Santorum during a January 17 campaign stop in Lexington, South Carolina. "He gave us a moral code by which to exercise them. See, that's what Ron Paul sort of leaves out. He leaves out [that the] rights and responsibilities that we have come from God…. And he says, `No, we just have rights, and then that's it.' No, we don't. America is a moral enterprise." And morality, Santorum believes, is best instilled through State coercion, including officially sanctioned murder.

Santorum presented that assessment just a few hours after a GOP debate in which Dr. Paul precipitated torrential booing from the pious Republican crowd by insisting that government is bound by the central tenet of the Christian moral code — the Golden Rule. 

According to Newt Gingrich — whose General Urko act drove the assembled Republicans into a simian frenzy of bloodlust — it is "irrational" of Paul to insist that there are limits on the government's powers of discretionary killing. 

Elaborating on that idea in a January 18 interview with South Carolina pastor Kevin Boling, Gingrich asserted that Dr. Paul's insistence on applying the Golden Rule to foreign policy demonstrated that he had absorbed the "anti-American, self-hating attitude of the American Left." 

That accusation of moral lassitude against Dr. Paul — who served in the military as a young father with two small children — dribbled down the multiple chins of an impenitent Chickenhawk who used his wife as a draft deferment, then spent the last few years of the Vietnam Era schtupping college girls. (“We would have won in 1974 if we could have kept him out of the office, screwing [a young volunteer] on the desk," lamented his congressional campaign director.) 

In the same interview, Newt — who is the Hogarthian embodiment of several of the deadly sins — reiterated the indolent smear that most of Paul's core supporters are young people obsessed with recreational drug use (something in which Newt indulged before emerging as the self-appointed "Teacher of Civilization"). Perhaps inspired by Santorum's example, Newt used that caricature as the basis for his own little collectivist homily.

"We have been endowed by our Creator with certain unalienable rights, but that means we have to be citizens," Newt decreed, claiming that "a heroin addict or a methamphetamine addict [has] lost the ability to be a true citizen."

There is nothing in the Declaration of Independence that describes rights as contingent on citizenship. According to that document, individual rights are innate and unalienable; government, on the other hand, enjoys a contingent existence, and can be altered or abolished whenever it imperials those rights. In that scheme, the purpose of citizenship is to restrain the government, rather than to submit to its supposedly ennobling influence.

Like most of the people who support him, Dr. Paul has no interest in drug consumption, recreational or otherwise. He simply understands that the federal government has no constitutional authority to wage war on drug consumption, and that no government anywhere has the moral authority to regulate what individuals choose to ingest. He likewise understands that prohibition always engenders lethal violence — something vividly illustrated by the horrendous death toll exacted by Washington's proxy drug war in Mexico, which has claimed more than 40,000 lives since 2006.

Once again, Dr. Paul's perspective on this question is informed by the New Testament: "Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man; but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man…. Do not ye yet understand, that whatsoever entereth in at the mouth goeth into the belly, and is cast out into the draught? But those things which proceedeth out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, thefts, false witness, blasphemies…." (Matthew 15:10-12, 16-19) 

While Jesus of Nazareth never uttered a syllable endorsing drug prohibition, He had a great deal to say denouncing war and related violence. To judge from the priorities and behavior of the "Christian" Right, one would assume that exactly the opposite were the case. 

Although Rick Santorum's politics are detestable, he is a robustly decent husband and father. That certainly isn’t true of the human pustule called Newt Gingrich. Although sharply different in terms of their personal deportment, Santorum and Gingrich share a totalitarian worldview: They assume that while nobody is virtuous enough to govern himself, they belong to a consecrated caste that is holy enough to rule over others. 

Reaching for a big historical idea and falling badly short, Santorum attempted to depict Dr. Paul as a Jacobin:

"I would argue that [Dr. Paul's] understanding of the Constitution was similar to the French Revolution…. Their founding watchwords were the words, `liberty' and `fraternity.' Fraternity. Brotherhood. But no fatherhood. No God. It was a completely secular revolution. An anti-clerical revolution. And the root of it was, whoever's in power rules."

Bear in mind, once again, that Santorum offered that description of the candidate who — just hours earlier — had been publicly ridiculed for insisting that God's law, the Golden Rule, applies to everybody, including those who preside over the criminal enterprise called the State. Furthermore, among the current GOP presidential contenders, Dr. Paul is the only candidate to extol the Constitution as a law that restrains the government. Santorum, on the other hand, consistently seeks to restrain the individual and emancipate the State. While he insinuates that Ron Paul is an anarchist (he isn't — none save One was perfect, after all — but he should be), Santorum has giddily celebrated State lawlessness. 

During an October visit to South Carolina, Santorum endorsed assassination as an instrument of policy when employed by the U.S. government.

"On occasion, scientists working on the nuclear program in Iran turn up dead,” he explained, broadly intimating that the U.S. government was responsible. “I think that’s a wonderful thing, candidly….I think we should send a very clear message that if you are scientist from Russia or North Korea or from Iran, and you are going to work on a nuclear program to develop a nuclear bomb for Iran, you are not safe.”

Santorum, who is regarded by some misguided conservatives as a champion of the pro-life cause, warned those who doubt that the U.S. government would assassinate civilian scientists should take heed to the way it treats American citizens designated enemies of the State: “When people say, `You can’t go out and assassinate people’ – well, tell that to al-Awlaki…. We’ve done it. We’ve done it to an American citizen.”

Actually, the Obama administration not only assassinated U.S.-born Islamic cleric Anwar al-Awlaki – who was never charged with a crime of any kind, let alone convicted and sentenced by a court — but also al-Awlaki’s 16-year-old son, Adbdulrahman al-Awlaki, who was killed by a drone strike in Yemen while he was having dinner with a cousin (who also perished).

The Obama administration circulated the story that the 16-year-old was actually an adult "suspected" of being a "militant," thereby redefining the killing as a strategic success. But the family was able to document that the youngster – who had gone to Yemen in a frantic search for his father, known to be on a U.S. assassination list – was born in Colorado in 1995.

Behavior of this kind is generally associated with the likes of Saddam Hussein and Kim Jong-Il. Proponents of an aggressive foreign policy often characterize the regimes ruling countries such as Iran, Syria, and North Korea as despotisms that routinely “murder their own citizens,” and thus pose a threat to the peace of the world. Yet Rick Santorum – who yields to nobody in his zeal to wage war against distant and relatively powerless regimes – openly celebrates the summary execution of U.S. citizens, and describes it as a model for similar “wet work” operations against citizens of other countries. 

For Santorum, the defining principle of politics is power, not liberty. His chief ideological inspiration is not the imperfectly realized individualist James Madison, or even the centralizing constitutionalist James Madison, but the arch-authoritarian Joseph de Maistre, the 18th Century apostle of absolutism. His role model in policy terms could well be the murderous "Operative" from the film Serenity.

Maistre taught that "all greatness, all power, all social order depends on the Executioner; he is the terror of human society and tie that holds it together. Take away this incontrovertible force from the world, and at that very moment order is superseded by chaos, thrones fall, society disappears.” 

Santorum visibly shares the fear that society will disintegrate if the State is deprived of the discretionary power to kill people. In the film Serenity, the Operative acted as Maistre's Executioner on behalf of a galaxy-spanning bureaucratic empire called the Alliance. He spent most of the film pursuing River Tam, a brilliant and irrepressibly individualistic young girl with psychic abilities who had been abducted by the regime and programmed to be an assassin.

River's brother, a gifted physician named Simon, sacrificed his future to free River, and the two of them wound up as fugitives aboard the Serenity, a merchant ship commanded by a noble but embittered man named Malcolm Reynolds. Years earlier, Malcolm (or Mal) had fought with the "Browncoats," a group of separatists who waged a valiant but losing battle for impendence from the Alliance. 

In his pursuit of River and Simon, Alliance forces commanded by the Operative lays waste to an outpost called Haven, where Mal and his crew had briefly found refuge. Similar Alliance attacks have destroyed every other colony where Mal might have taken cover.

"I'm sorry," the Operative explains to Mal following the massacres. "If your quarry goes to ground, leave no ground to go to…. [D]id you think none of this was your fault?"

"I don't murder children," Mal replies with frigid disgust.

"I do," the Operative unblinkingly replies. "If I have to." 

"Why?" Mal demands. "Do you even know why they sent you?"

"It's not my place to ask," the Operative wearily explains. "I believe in something greater than myself. A better world. A world without sin." 

Although he possesses none of the Operative's fearsome martial prowess, Rick Santorum likewise believes it is possible to build a better world through State murder — not just Iraqi, Afghan, Pakistani, and (soon) Iranian children, but American children like Abdulrahman al-Awlaki. 

It's little wonder that Santorum — like Newt Gingrich and the death cult adherents who compose much of the GOP's rank and file — finds Ron Paul's devotion to the Golden Rule to be morally unsatisfactory. 

Reprinted with permission from Pro Libertate.

William Norman Grigg [send him mail] publishes the Pro Libertate blog and hosts the Pro Libertate radio program.

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