Liberty or “Security”: An Old Debate, A Familiar Straw Man

Ho hum. Jacques wants his government to do three things in the name of fighting Muslim terrorism (not to be confused with other, more numerous kinds of terrorism): 1) allow for an armed, perpetually-on-alert military to be active on US soil, 2) allow for a surveillance state that can do as it pleases in regards to Muslims only, and 3) initiate ideological quotas for Muslim immigrants.

The entire ‘comments’ thread is well worth reading, too. Dr Amburgey, who came from the same doctoral program as Jacques, brings the quantitative fire; Dr Khawaja, the qualitative. Jacques has responded to each of them.

The absurdity of Delacroix’ argument speaks for itself. I will come back to it shortly, but first I want to address a couple of his points that are simply made in bad faith. Observe:

(Yes, Mohammed did behead every man of a vanquished enemy tribe on the battlefield. Incidentally, they were Jews. The Prophet then “married ” their wives, he raped them, in others words. Bad example? Talk about this genuine part of Muslim tradition?)

Murdering and raping Jews is a “Muslim tradition”? I am sure this is news to Uighurs in China and the Javanese of Indonesia. I think there is a good case to be made for a present-day Arab cultural chauvinism that rests in part on what could be called “Muslim tradition,” but this is not a nuance that Jacques – the retired college professor – cares to address. I wonder why. If we’re going to go back to the 7th century to find cultural defects, can anybody think of something nasty that was going on in what is now France at the time? In what is now the US? What an odd historical anecdote to include in an argument.

Here, too, is another whopper:

One article of faith among literalist Muslims is that government must come from God. That’s why the Supreme Leader of the Shiite Islamic Republic is explicitly a cleric, couldn’t be an elected civilian or a general. This belief also explains the search for a Caliphate among Sunni jihadists, a polity where administrative and religious powers are one and the same.

What is a “literalist Muslim”? Nevermind. The government of Iran, its structure, is based on Plato’s Republic, not the Qur’an. The “Supreme Leader” Jacques identifies is based on the notion of a philosopher-king, not a Shiite cleric. This was done to protect the new dictatorship from its many enemies, including those loyal to the old dictatorship (the one supported by the United States; the one that Washington installed after helping to remove a democratically-elected Leftist government during the Cold War). The rhetoric of the Iranian dictatorship is explicitly religious, but in reality it’s just plain, old-fashioned despotism.

In a similar vein, “Sunni jihadists” (to use Jacques’ term) do not search for a Caliphate because of a belief that government should come from God, but instead look to a mythical Caliphate that they believe existed from the 7th to early 20th centuries as inspiration for creating a society that cannot be pushed around by murderous Western governments. Pretending that Arab Sunnis want to create a Caliphate in order to strengthen the link between government and God can only be described as “dishonest” when it comes from the mouth of a sociologist with a doctorate from Stanford.

At best, it could be argued that Jacques is simply making these types of points because they are pervasive throughout American society, and thus we – as libertarians of all stripes – have our work cut out for us. Now that I think about it, Jacques’ argument is so silly that it has to be an exercise in critical thinking. Nobody of his stature could say something so stupid, right?

Those are just two examples of, uh, the misrepresentation of reality by Jacques. There are many more, and I don’t think he got those myths from an academic journal. He got them from Fox News. That’s not good. That means libertarians are not taking advantage of their right to free speech, like conservatives and Leftists do. Why aren’t you blogging more often?

I’d like to turn back to his policy proposals. Here they are again:

  1. an armed, perpetually-on-alert military on US soil,
  2. a surveillance state that can do as it pleases in regards to Muslims only, and
  3. ideological quotas for Muslim immigrants.

The first two proposals look like they were copied directly from the playbook of the Third Reich (I hope you’ll reprimand me in the ‘comments’ section if you think I am being overly dramatic, or strawmanning Jacques’ argument). Just replace “US” with “Germany” and “Muslims” with “Jews” and voila, you have an answer for your Muslim (“Jewish”) problem. (RE Policy #3: National socialists, of course, don’t like anybody immigrating to their territories, whereas Jacques, in his infinite kindness and wisdom, seeks only to allow those who think like him into his territory.)

Again, Jacques’ argument is silly. It is both vulgar and unintelligent. It is misinformed. And yet I have to ask: Who is winning the PR battle here, conservatives on the one side or left-liberals and libertarians on the other?

Everyone carries a part of society on his shoulders; no one is relieved of his share of responsibility by others. And no one can find a safe way out for himself if society is sweeping toward destruction. Therefore, everyone, in his own interests, must thrust himself vigorously into the intellectual battle. None can stand aside with unconcern; the interest of everyone hangs on the result. Whether he chooses or not, every man is drawn into the great historical struggle, the decisive battle into which our epoch has plunged us.

That’s from Ludwig von Mises, the libertarian Austrian (and Jewish) economist who had to flee his homeland as the Third Reich took power. Speak your mind!

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16 thoughts on “Liberty or “Security”: An Old Debate, A Familiar Straw Man

  1. Murdering and raping Jews is a “Muslim tradition”?

    Making up quote marks is one of the most despicable things to do in a discussion. That is where I draw the line.

    Here is a real quote:

    ” We sleep soundly in our beds because rough men stand ready in the night to visit violence on those who would do us harm.” (W. Churchill)

  2. “Those are just two examples of, uh, the misrepresentation of reality by Jacques. There are many more, and I don’t think he got those myths from an academic journal. He got them from Fox News. That’s not good. That means libertarians are not taking advantage of their right to free speech, like conservatives and Leftists do. Why aren’t you blogging more often?”

    I think libertarians may be in an unusual position regarding discourse. As you point out conservatives like Jacques live in an echo chamber impervious to reality. Unfortunately progressives generally suffer from the same problem. Libertarians have commonalities with both and have a greater chance of actually getting through the bubbles. I’m not optimistic but I wish all of you the best of luck.

    • Thanks Dr A.

      There is an old blog post by Conor Friedersdorf in the Atlantic titled “Why Your Mayor Has Never Been A Libertarian.” He is referring to the political party. He basically acknowledges the same thing that you do. Here is the money quote from his post:

      I expect that, when the drug war ends, it’ll be a Republican or Democrat who signs the legislation. But libertarians will have played a roll. And the successes that result? They’ll be credited to the Republican or Democrat. Libertarian ideals will win. But the political movement may lose.

      It’s a tough burden to bear – not being recognized for contributing to a better world – but if individual freedom gains, who cares?

      We could use more than wishes of luck, though… 😉

  3. While I do question the sources, I do think that there will always be a hybrid solution AND that there are ways, such as encryption, that provide both … a high level of security, which also gives your message (if its encrypted) a high level of liberty. The issue here is that people are not willing to change or adopt different solutions. Lets say we give NSA access to all our emails, but we can also encrypt them all, there is a trade off of privacy but still a strong protection for personal speech. Having access to encrypted files but unable to actually decrypt them gives us this hybrid point.

    As for the religious pre-tense, I think that’s just cultural drama and it takes away from the core messages / principles ; terrorism (in reality) can have infinite faces,

    • Interesting. While encryption with something like PGP is, apparently, robust against cryptanalysis I would still have 2 worries.

      First, “Any agency wanting to read PGP messages would probably use easier means than standard cryptanalysis, e.g. rubber-hose cryptanalysis or black-bag cryptanalysis i.e. installing some form of trojan horse or keystroke logging software/hardware on the target computer to capture encrypted keyrings and their passwords. The FBI has already used this attack against PGP[4][5] in its investigations. However, any such vulnerabilities apply not just to PGP but to any conventional encryption software.”

      Second, “Additionally, a magistrate judge ruling on the case in November 2007 has stated that forcing the suspect to reveal his PGP passphrase would violate his Fifth Amendment rights i.e. a suspect’s constitutional right not to incriminate himself.[7][8] The Fifth Amendment issue was opened again as the government appealed the case and a federal district judge ordered the defendant to provide the key.[9]”

  4. Interesting suggestion on privacy.

    Terrorism may be one and the same thing but it requires fuel. The nature of the fuel matters on how t conducts it behavior. Basque ETA terrorists had no interests in directing their actions against the US, for example because they were fueled by a mixture of nationalism and vulgar Marxism to which the US was largely irrelevant. Recently, Islamist terrorists beheaded people on a beach in Libya. Sure it was a cinematographic act but the victims were not selected randomly. They were pointedly Christians; they were not accused of anything else. I can’t imagine ETA assassinating people for being Christians, or Muslims.

    • “I can’t imagine ETA assassinating people for being Christians, or Muslims.”

      Can you imagine a white supremacist killing nine blacks in a church? What is the fuel? Are you going to claim they were targeted for being Christians? Has Fox News admitted the existence of racism other than ‘reverse discrimination’ or was Charleston part of the ‘war on Christianity’?

  5. Brandon: I did not say what you said I said and place i quote marks to give the impression that I had said it. I don’t think you are lying; I think you are dense blinded by ideological fury.

    Terry: I can imagine white supremacist killing nine blacks in church. That’s what happened in Charleston. I classified it as an act of terrorism. The rest of your last comment is unimportant. Incidentally,I don’t watch the same Fox you watch. (Mine is the real one.) I have not heard the words “reverse discrimination” on Fox. I would probably remember because I think they are silly words. The words may have been pronounced by a commentator late at night; it does not matter.

    You keep trying putting words in my mouth in accordance with your furious prejudices and failing.

    • Still changing the subject, I see. You are trying to make this about Terry and I because you see now that your policy prescriptions match quite closely those associated with the Third Reich.

      Or do they not? This is an open-ended dialogue and you are a clever man. Perhaps, one day, you will actually engage with my rebuttals instead of trying to play the victim.

      PS: If you had bothered to read my argument, you would have noticed that I was asking a question (“Murdering and raping Jews is a ‘Muslim tradition’?”) because I was unsure of what your odd 7th century anecdote – the one you placed in the middle of your diatribe, about Muhammad murdering and raping Jews and Muslim tradition – was supposed to mean.

  6. “I have not heard the words ‘reverse discrimination’ on Fox. I would probably remember because I think they are silly words.”

    From the first page of results on a Google search for the term “reverse discrimination” on the foxnews.com web site:

    Reverse Discrimination Case Could Transform Hiring Procedures Nationwide
    Reverse Discrimination at the High Court
    Supreme Court Hears Controversial Reverse Discrimination Case
    Reverse Discrimination in Texas Schools?

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