Don’t libertarians stick together? Don’t we cover each other’s back?
I used to assume as a universal truth that lovers of liberty were a family of sorts. I used believed we stood guard over our brothers and sisters of the political remnant. I used to, anyway.
Recently, Tom Woods invited Gret Glyer on his podcast to discuss Glyer’s charitable app, DonorSee. Perfect, I thought, brother helping brother, all in the name of the movement. Then, before I knew it, Woods and Glyer launched into an expose of the US Peace Corps – my Peace Corps.
Sure, the Peace Corps is a government agency and, by necessity, antithetical to liberty. And like all government agencies, it really is ineffective and inept, at least with regard to it stated goals (and it likely causes more ills than the value of the tax dollars it consumes). So, speaking against it seems appropriate. However, and most importantly, I served in the corps some 20 years ago and still have a personal interest in its continued good name.
Our country has taken a sharp turn these last few years. Up is down, so to speak. The pace of change is ever increasing, making it difficult to keep up with social rules. Often, I find myself on the wrong side of current debates. Since it is scary being isolated among the frothy masses of the outraged, having a defense is imperative.
And I had a defense … until Woods stabbed me in the back.
It is true the new left does not have the knowledge of history or politics as the left of my generation. The kids today do not recognize the Peace Corps right away. You see, for the youth of the new left, knowledge is unimportant. So, instead of seeking knowledge, they remain in perpetual search of anything fellow revolutionaries might consider a trigger. And, since triggers justify outrage, it is no shock that triggers are found everywhere, with each spreading outrage like a virulent flu.
Often, these triggers arise in contradictory ways, with subtle attempts at redirection back to reason resulting in outrage upon outrage. So it is not usually easy to exit a debate, with “let’s agree to disagree” no longer an acceptable conclusion. Sometimes the only means to withdrawal – to escape – is a double-time retreat.
Still, I had a strong defense, so I could stand my ground. When under attack, I could always virtue signal by letting the mob know I once served in the Peace Corps. For my generation, any mention of the Peace Corps was sufficient – I was at least a fellow traveler, if not a true party member.
However, for the youth of the day, the Peace Corps may signal only a hint of virtue, oftentimes requiring an in-depth explanation of its history and stated purpose – many times referencing John Kennedy and Sargent Shriver to no avail – before I am deemed safe, or at least not a threat.
Of course, my virtue signal came about due to much sacrifice. You see, I served. That means I enjoyed an extended, free Caribbean vacation – thank you, all you taxpayers. I was able to ride my bike throughout the mountain and coastal roads near Lucea, Jamaica. Sure, I had to “work” four hours day. But I also had to put up with the occasional stingray or eel while swimming and snorkeling between the private beach and coral reef, located right behind my bungalow, which was only feet from the water. In addition, I was subjected to a monthly trip to an all-inclusive hotel in Negril and a sizable check upon returning home to the US.
However, it is also true that I had to feign occasional agreement with leftist views espoused by fellow “volunteers,” as well as nod to the utopian visions of corps employees – we were all going to save the world to the tune of John Lennon’s “Imagine.”
Yet, since that experience was a decade before my conversion to libertarianism, it was not so bad at the time.
You may ask why I would out myself, so to speak. Why I would detail my Peace Corps experience as something other than an altruistic service. Well, the beauty of a virtue signal is reality causes it no harm. Most realities, that is.
Then, last week, Woods and Glyer exposed some darker issues with the corps, issues that may reduce its value as a signal of virtue, even for those on the left. Glyer noted sexual abuse cases the agency covered up, refusing to investigate, considering its reputation over the safety of both its so-called volunteers and host country nationals.
How dare Woods and Glyer dredge up these crimes, especially in today’s political environment. How dare they risk my prized signal of virtue. Aren’t we libertarian brothers? Aren’t we supposed to cover each other’s back? Our movement must have solidarity. It must.
What next for Woods? Will he invite a guest on his show to undermine my remaining signal of virtue – having been an elected member of a local, government school board (forgive me)? Will Woods and guest expose boards of education of government schools as nothing other than hacks for the state? Will he really leave a brother in liberty with nothing more than truth to defend himself? Will he? Could he?