Hating America and Other Libertarian Crimes

"If you hate it here so much, why don't you just move somewhere else!" This is the final shout in the screaming match born of the debate born of political discussions between libertarians and nearly anyone else. It's been a while since I responded with "No! I was born here, why doesn't the government move!" Realizing that political ideology makes poor dinner conversation, especially after a few drinks, is one of the signs of a mature libertarian. That and your wife glaring across the table with the old "don't even start" look when some well-meaning, but historically ignorant acquaintance chimes in about a current event, framing the issue in the latest terms of Cokie Roberts or Oprah. Then her equally well-meaning, but slightly better "informed" husband corrects her by telling you about Bill Buckley's latest. So fellow libertarians, as you grin, wishing a meteorite would hit you to end the misery, realize that you're not alone.

The "why don't you leave" argument, as puerile as it is, can be turned around, and I've found just the opportunity. I recently pointed out that the three things that led to the WTC attacks are: our 10 year assault on Iraq, our troops in Saudi Arabia, and our financial support of Israel. Thank you very, much, that is exactly the list Osama bin Laden released in his video taped tirade yesterday. No, I don't write his speeches, as some of the email I've been getting claims. The standard argument over Israel and foreign aid goes something like this:

Libertarian: Why do they take my tax money and give it away as foreign aid?

Neo-Conservative: We have to do that, otherwise Israel would be wiped out by those hateful Muslims.

Libertarian: Didn't Israel win the 1967 six day war without our foreign aid, and attacked one of our ships to boot?

Neo-Conservative: We must defend Israel! They are our only ally in the Middle East. (cue smoke from ears)

Libertarian: I'm fine with individuals freely writing a check to the Israeli government every year, just don't take my money at gunpoint and give it to them. By the way, how much oil does Israel sell us every year compared to those other countries?

Neo-Conservative: YOU JUST DON'T UNDERSTAND. The hostile MUSLIMS that SURROUND ISRAEL don't even RECOGNIZE its RIGHT TO EXIST!!! (Smoke billowing profusely as dogma and learned rhetoric collide with fact, history, and logic)

At this point, the normal mild-mannered libertarian will sigh and find some way to end the conversation without getting branded an anti-Semitic black helicopter nutbag.

The other crime libertarians get branded with is a lack of a proper sense of rage over the attacks, and the ensuing lack of patriotism. For daring to point out that we've had ominous warning that something like this was going to happen, we're branded a know-it-all. For daring to point out that the terrorists, while using mass murder of civilians – a completely illegitimate means – have legitimate problems with our euphemistically called "foreign policy" of grab-the-oil in the middle east, libertarians are branded terrorists sympathizers. Let me state for the record, once again, the now standard libertarian disclaimer: The attacks on 9-11 were absolutely, completely, 100% morally despicable. Killing innocent people is never right. Now ask yourself. If killing 7,000 innocent people in one fell swoop is wrong, what's killing more than a million innocent people in 10 years? That works out to 274 people a day, mostly the very young and the very old. That's a lot of blood on the hands of the United States military, foreign policy planners, and politicians.

Did you know we've bombed Iraq several times between 9-11 and today, 10-7? Probably not. It barely even hits the wire. We've become so inured to the killing in our name, it's not even newsworthy. It made me laugh to watch a report on Afghanistan, and hear the reporter talk about how the people have become so desensitized to war and fighting. I wonder when was the last time he went to a Rated R movie here in the US. But, there I go again, hating America.

So, fly the flag, and sing with Lee Greenwood, but also do a little reading and realize that part of being a patriot is to know what your country has been doing in your name; know your history. Part of being a patriot is standing up and telling it like it is, good and bad. Part of being a patriot is realizing that this is a great country, but as citizens we have a responsibility to speak out and act out against the illegitimate actions of our government.

October 9, 2001

Political Theatre

LRC Blog

LRC Podcasts