Newt Gingrich, a serial adulterer and disciple of New Age futurists Alvin and Heidi Toffler, makes a singularly unlikely Crusader. Yet apparently at some point in the past year or so Gingrich looked in a mirror and saw Don John of Austria looking back at him.
An epiphany of that kind would explain Gingrich’s perverse determination to depict the contrived controversy over the “Ground Zero Mosque” as a contemporary Battle of Lepanto. A more reasonable explanation would be that Gingrich, one of the most penetrably insincere figures in American politics, is trying to distill irrational populist resentment into a propellant for a presidential campaign.
The New York Times is reporting the story of Terry Jones’ plan to commemorate the 9/11 attacks by burning 50 Qur’ans. While I find his actions repulsive, and needlessly offensive to me and every other Muslim, irrespective of our political views, I must say that he nonetheless has every right to burn his own property or that which is voluntarily donated to him. In a similar manner, a property owner may build a mosque on his own property. Perhaps all people can eventually learn to either ignore such actions, or use them as springboards for conversation rather than conflict.
At the beginning of his show this morning, Glenn Beck started ripping into the imam that all the talk-radio hosts love to hate, because the imam has (correctly) pointed out that the U.S. has killed many more innocent non-Muslims than al-Qaeda has.
Beck went on to defend the U.S. embargo against Iraq that killed hundreds of thousands of innocent people during the 1990s, argued that we should have fought the Iraq war “full on” from the beginning (meaning we shouldn’t have been so squeamish — as if “we” were — about killing innocent people), and claimed that the current U.S. government is the only one in the history of the world that has ever fought wars in a manner that avoided killing civilians.
Last year, Beck promoted a rally in Washington to protest the federal government’s taxing and spending. This year, he’s holding a rally to glorify the U.S. military. Can there be any doubt that by the time the Republicans regain control in Washington, Beck and his many followers will be right back where all the conservatives were during the George W. Bush years? Only it will be much worse, because they’ll have much bigger, more powerful government at their disposal, which they will not reduce one bit. And one shudders to think of what the apparent growing extreme, irrational hatred of Muslims may lead to.
Unless, that is, Ron Paul and other true libertarians can steer the Tea Party movement onto the right track before it’s too late.
As a good first step, it’s time for everyone — including some people who should know better — to stop suggesting that Glenn Beck is any sort of libertarian.
(Cross-posted at LRC and my blog.)
If opinion polls are reliable at all, most Americans are too enthralled by the manufactured outrage over the so-called Ground Zero Mosque to notice that the government claiming to represent them just massacred, via remote-controlled drone, at least twenty innocent people in Pakistan.
Several of those killed in the attack were children whose lives were violently ended by a missile fired at the hideout of “suspected militants.” It was their fatal misfortune to be living next to an address chosen for a “targeted execution” — that is, an assassination conducted pursuant to presidential order.
This is just one of literally hundreds of “ground zeros” the U.S. government has inflicted on Pakistan since Barack the Blessed escalated the drone war early in his presidency. That fact is lost on the spittle-flecked militarists who profess to be inconsolably offended by the presence of Muslims within a few blocks Ground Zero’s incomparably sacred soil in Lower Manhattan.
People intoxicated with a sense of vicarious victimhood aren’t likely to understand, or care about, the anger and frustration of Muslims whose homes and families have been destroyed, on a whim, by the rulers of a distant and unassailably powerful regime.
The more deranged among the neo-Know Nothings (the “No Mosques in America!” crowd) insist it is a species of sedition even to suggest that there is a connection between the criminal violence committed by Washington abroad, and the retaliatory terrorism we occasionally experience here at home.
This dogmatic indifference to the value of non-American lives was displayed by Hillary Clinton during an October 2009 foreign excursion in which she inflicted herself on the inhabitants of Pakistan. During a meeting with Clinton, several well-spoken but forceful Pakistanis condemned the strikes as “executions without trial” and acts of state terrorism. Clinton breezily dismissed the complaints: “There is a war going on.”
That statement is a distant echo of Madeleine Albright’s notorious comments in a 1996 60 Minutes interview, in which she blithely said that it was “worth it” for the U.S. to suffocate Iraq with sanctions that were killing tens or hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians each year.
Albright’s words, which were re-played incessantly in the Muslim world, resulted in a huge windfall for terrorist recruiters (who really should have given her a commission for each suicide bomber who enlisted in their ranks).
Clinton’s arrogant, dismissive comments weren’t as widely reported, but the policy she defended is cultivating the seeds from which future terrorist attacks will spring. And the bovine residue being spread about the “Ground Zero Mosque” by the War Party’s cynical hate peddlers is helping fertilize that threat.
The furor over the “Ground Zero Mosque” (which is neither a mosque nor at Ground Zero) doesn’t make me very optimistic about the prospects for liberty.
As a libertarian and just a live-and-let-live kind of guy, I can’t imagine caring much about, let alone vocally protesting, what someone is building two blocks away from me.
Yet apparently many of my fellow Americans are such busybodies that they’ll whine for weeks about something being built hundreds or thousands of miles away from them, in a city where they don’t live and probably won’t even visit. And many of the complainers are among the Tea Party set whom we are occasionally told are “libertarian,” even though they seem to hate Muslims and Mexicans and love war at least as much as they hate the federal government and love liberty.
Jonah Goldberg claims that the conservatives who object “mostly” recognize that the Muslims have a legal right to build their center. But what I hear on talk radio makes me doubt this. A common argument there seems to be that since “liberals” don’t care about the constitution or property rights in general, they aren’t entitled to invoke them now — as though liberals somehow have the power to waive Muslims’ rights.
In any event, even if Goldberg is correct, it’s hard to imagine that the spirit of liberty resides in the sort of people who get so worked up over this sort of thing. The ease with which they’ve been distracted by this issue suggests that reducing government isn’t going to be their top priority once their team is back in control in Washington.
(Cross-posted on my blog.)