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Thursday
Nov212013

“Looking over the dead (Berlin) Wall, if there is contrition going on among the hundreds of thousands of Soviet agents, including Mr. Gorbachev, who imprisoned, tortured, and killed during the past forty-six years, their grief is stoically contained.  The Jewish community will never let the world forget about the Holocaust.  Understandably so.  Every living German is aware of the holocaust, most of them unborn when it happened.  By contrast, not one in five hundred Westerners could answer the question, How many Ukrainians were starved to death by Stalin from 1930 to 1933?  Not one in a thousand would know that that figure is higher than the figure for all those killed during the Holocaust.  One wonders how many Oliver Stones, so mindful of the suffering associated with Vietnam, will during the next ten years devote their splendid, indignant energies to dramatizing the fate of Eastern Europe during the forty-six years just past.”
–William F. Buckley Jr.
Wednesday
Nov132013

The Extreme Views of Extremely Extreme Extremists

“Those who stand for nothing fall for anything.” - Alexander Hamilton

“I would remind you that extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice.  And let me remind you also that moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue.” - Barry Goldwater

You’re an extremist. That’s an extremist position. They’re all a bunch of extremist cranks and loons. So completely are such phrases woven into our political discourse that one would imagine their impact to have been thoroughly diminished by now, except that’s far from the case. Summary dismissal of anything “extreme,” of course, implies an obligation, under pain of permanent ostracism from polite society, to thoroughly moderate ones views on matters large and small. Few things could be more outre, it would seem, than to be extreme in any position. Let us then leave convictions, moral certitude and anything resembling same to the knuckle-draggers. Thus has “They’re extremist” come not only to mean, “they should just shut up,” but also that their views shouldn’t be taken seriously enough to waste any effort in deconstructing or countering them. “Extremist” is now a simple incantation that takes the form of what Jonah Goldberg would dub an “argument without an argument” or, if one prefers, a substitution for anything resembling an actual argument. It’s the bromide which, by its mere utterance, is supposed to make the Tea Partier’s sails go instantly flaccid without further discussion. 

Relativism is the natural offshoot of an overweening desire to avoid extremism and has, to put it mildly, had a deleterious effect on the ability of the present generation to defend both Western values and the civilization they begat. Entertaining a notion that anything might be absolute and non-negotiable is just plain bad manners and–gasp!–uncool.

It is in this, as in so many other subject areas, that I happily part ways with the unquestioned orthodoxy of the generation I find myself a part of, joyfully throwing in my lot with the troglodytes of extremism. To wit, there are at least six matters on which I hold Undeniably Extreme views. A discussion of each follows.

1.  My right to freedom of conscience–to think, believe and, by extension, to say what I wish, by whatever means I choose–is absolute and non-negotiable. The last bit is in italics because, for whatever queer and curious reason, leftists have decided en masse, and only relatively recently, that this right should somehow be circumscribed based on the technicality of whether I’ve chosen to join with others for the purpose of amplifying (so that they might actually stand some minuscule chance of being heard against the saturating din of ubiquitous media) certain views that I would unquestionably have the right to voice acting on my own. Odder still is the apparent absence of any sense on their part of the incongruity in their having parted from their knee-jerk affinity for collectivism and disdain for individualism in this particular area. Collective action, once humanity’s highest calling so far as your lefty was concerned, is mysteriously repugnant when the action in question is speech. The individual hollering impotently in a hurricane is ennobled by this same, strange inversion. All of this, of course, goes in hand with their preternatural hatred of all things “corporate,” never mind that while Monsanto is a corporation, so too is Greenpeace. Corporations are merely individuals getting together to accomplish that which they cannot pull off individually. They can be for-profit or not. But we try in vain to impose any sort of intellectual consistency, to say nothing of sanity, on the left.  

2.  My right to physical and, if necessary, violent and armed defense of my person, my loved ones, and any innocent bystander is absolute and non-negotiable. This right exists in nature and, oddly, nobody has ever questioned it when it comes to any living creature save humans.  Other animals use ferocity, claws, fangs, stingers, strength, stealth, speed or some combination of the foregoing to defend themselves from whatever the threat may be, and were anyone to question their doing so, that person would certainly receive quizzical looks. It would be just plain bizarre were someone to propose “fang control.” We bipedal apes don’t exactly bristle with such armaments, and are the slow-moving meat sacks of the animal kingdom. We make up for that with a genius for designing and fashioning weapons. They’re our means of defense, and the right without the means is worse than meaningless. The right itself, moreover, is not something government can grant or retract. It exists simply by virtue of our status as living, sovereign beings with a natural right to stay that way. It preexisted government, and exists outside of any governing system. It exists, as it were, in nature.

3.  My right to own property, legitimately acquired, is absolute and non-negotiable. See labor, fruits thereof, infra.

4.  My right not to be a slave is absolute and non-negotiable. It’s interesting to me that it’s only been since the advent of Obamacare that some folks have begun complaining that one now must pay a tax simply for existing. This has been the case since 1913, with the ratification of the constitutional amendment which brought about the federal income tax. It is worth noting that among the reasons the Sixteenth Amendment was made part of the Constitution, rather than Congress simply passing a federal statute providing for taxation of income, is that any such statute would have run afoul of the Thirteenth Amendment’s prohibition of involuntary servitude. It being generally the case, with no exception I’m aware of, that one must make a living (e.g., have income) in order to exist, we’ve been taxed on our existence for as long as there’s been an income tax. Prior to 1865, when actual human chattel slavery still existed in this country, it was commonplace for slave owners to hire out their slaves to third parties, who would pay the slaves wages which their owners would confiscate all or most of. Frederick Douglass gives a good and thorough accounting of this practice in his autobiography, which should be required reading in every high school U. S. history course. Involuntary servitude to others resulting from their having a claim–backed by the threat of force–on the fruits of my labor . . . I swear there’s a word for that. It rhymes with “knavery.”

5.  Absent any clear, obvious neglect or abuse, my right to raise my children as I see fit is absolute and non-negotiable.  And I notice that, for the most part, those who would take issue with this assertion tend not to be parents.  Apart from myself, my children are more completely mine than anything else in my life.  Their mother and I are the cause of their existence, the source of their education, care and comfort, and the parties ultimately responsible for them in every respect.  The Village can go pound sand.

6.  My right to privacy–to be LEFT ALONE (freedom from impertinence)–is absolute and non-negotiable.  Should I need to explain this, any attempt to do so would be self-evidently futile.

What each of my extreme positions has in common with the others, of course, is that all denote so-called “negative freedoms,” e.g., those which require nothing of you in order for me to exercise them other than your forbearance.  They are freedoms from molestation by external forces or third parties, not claims to anything which invariably must come from the exertions of others. Since my extremism doesn’t affect you, neither should it irritate you.  But the mental illness common to all leftist ideologues can never see things this way, for to meddle, micromanage and attempt to re-engineer their fellow creatures is the sole driving force in their lives.  Put simply, they are not just reluctant to, but incapable of living and letting live.  The mere suspicion that someone, somewhere may break from their orthodoxy and privately exist in some disapproved manner makes them froward, churlish and chronically ill-at-ease.
Thursday
Oct312013

"Men born to freedom are naturally alert to repel invasion of their liberty by evil-minded rulers. The greatest dangers to liberty lurk in the insidious encroachment by men of zeal, well-meaning but without understanding."
–Justice Louis Brandeis, 1928

 

Saturday
Sep142013

“Despots always promise development, but their first acts are invariably to kill or banish as many of the actual developers as they can.”
–Editorial from the September/October 2001 issue of The American Spectator (author unknown)

 

Wednesday
Sep112013

Something about 9/11

Seems odd to me, but I don’t reckon I’ve ever written anything about 9/11. Nothing I can remember, anyway, which probably means any incidental scribbling that may have occurred must have hardly been worth remembering.

New York City is even more foreign to me than many actually foreign places. I like to visit her, and have a handful of times.  I have friends there.  But nearly everything about New York and New Yorkers is as unrelatable to me as the dark side of the moon.  New Yorkers and rural Northwesterners are two peoples divided by a common language.  Their accent I find either grating or comical depending on the mood I’m in.  Their adaptation to living shoulder-to-shoulder is inscrutable to me; their penchant for electorally empowering commissars of the nanny state utterly baffling.  In sum I like them, but they’re as “other” as other can be to my staunchly libertarian, wide-open-space-loving, authority-detesting, thoroughgoingly Western spirit.

Yet when my brother called me around 7 a.m. on September 11, 2001 and asked if I’d been watching the news, and said, “We’re under attack” when I told him I hadn’t been, I had to agree.  WE were under attack.  Those New Yorkers may be odd folk, and near impossible for me to ken.  But they’re definitely in my “we.”  Just as with family, I can be as critical as I want to of them.  But let some true outsider attack them, and I bristle with the same primordial urge to throw down.  Three thousand of my kinsmen were murdered that day, even if they were culturally, geographically and even emotionally distant relations. It’s how I felt then, and how I feel with no less intensity now.  And now, just as then, they deserve justice, and to have their memories honored.  I guess we humans are inherently tribal creatures, and it took an unspeakable act of savagery for me to get a clear view of just how far my tribe extends.

I have other thoughts about 9/11, but they’re too big to write down.  So I’ll just leave it.