Monthly Archives: March 2006

Yes Virginia, I Really AM a Radical

[Note: I originally wrote this entry back in June 2005, when the original Supreme Court nomination debates were occurring. I was advocating for Janice Rogers Brown, who was considered a “radical extremist” by the left-wingers. I was reminded of this post reading Chris’ bio today, and thought I might cross-post it here. Enjoy.]

When I posted a few days ago about the new byline, Lucy Stern asked me whether I really wanted to call myself a “radical”. I had to think about it for a millisecond or so, look around at what our government has become, and determined that “radical” is a perfect term to describe me.

I was watching Fox News a few hours ago (Brit Hume’s show, I think), and they were talking about extremist appeals court nominee Janice Rogers Brown. I’ve picked up a few quotes on other blogs about Brown:

The Choice America Network:

Of all the extremist positions judicial nominee Janice Rogers Brown has taken, her stated agenda to undo all progress on social justice since the New Deal may be the most striking. These are her own words:

“The New Deal, however, inoculated the federal Constitution with a kind of underground collectivist mentality. The Constitution itself was transmuted into a significantly different document…1937…marks the triumph of our own socialist revolution.”

The Manitou Project:

Janice Rogers Brown’s extremist legal views are completely at odds with working families’ interests and values. Even ultra-conservative columnist George Will calls her “out of the mainstream.” She compares enactment of New Deal legislation such as the minimum wage and the 40-hour workweek with a “socialist revolution.” She compares “big government” with “slavery” and an “opiate.” She says the First Amendment protects racial harassment in the form of slurs in the workplace. She says leased employees shouldn’t expect to participate in employers’ pension plans because they are part of a “new labor paradigm” that is “simply a matter of personal choice and private agreement” in which courts should not interfere.

Wow. We need to keep her off the federal bench.

Janice Rogers Brown believes that the Constitution is the guiding law in our land. Specfically, she reads the Constitution literally, and believes that whatever is not in there shouldn’t be done by our federal government. And she’s an extremist. An extremist isn’t by definition wrong, or bad. It simply means that she is out of the mainstream.

There’s a good reason for this. The mainstream has been moving more and more left for the last 92 years (I use 1913, when the Sixteenth Amendment was passed for that calculation). Someone who views the New Deal as a socialist program and openly states so is not in the mainstream. Someone who believes that private property rights may include the right of discrimination is not in the mainstream (even though it is obvious she doesn’t approve of discrimination). Someone who has the view that coerced redistribution of income is a mild form of slavery is not in the mainstream. It is her view that this country is ruled by laws, as enshrined in the Constitution, and if the “mainstream” wants to change that law, it requires Constitutional amendments, not judicial activism.

So am I a “radical”? Am I an “extremist”? Yes. It is obvious that compared to the mainstream thought in this country, I am nowhere near the average Joe. The average Joe believes that the rule of the majority is just. The average Joe believes that government exists to promote his agenda, not protect individual rights. The average Joe views taxation and regulation as tools for social engineering. The Republican and Democratic parties are full of average Joes looking not to further American ideals with their votes, but to get “their guys” holding the reins of power.

So yes, I am a radical. I’m not afraid of that label, because the government I envision is radically different than the one we have. And yes, I am an extremist. Because I believe that we should be much closer to the extremes of personal liberty and personal responsibility than we currently are. I make no claims that the rest of the country thinks the same way I do. But the principles I believe in don’t require them to. They can live they way they want, and I’ll live the way I want. They don’t offer me the same courtesy. My beliefs put me well outside of the mainstream. But with such folks as Janice Rogers Brown out here with me, I can at least claim good company.

There Maybe Hope For Them Yet

From a recent Jonah Goldberg column in NRO:

A bunch of readers wanted to know what I meant when I said that my views on “libertarianism” have “evolved” since my earlier, full-throated, attacks. Well, for starters, I no longer make jokes like: “Q: What’s the hardest part about being a libertarian? A: Telling your parents you’re gay.”

Again, more seriously, as I’ve watched compassionate conservatism, Buchananism, Crunchy Conservatism, and similar movements bubble-up since the end of the Cold War, I think it’s better for everybody concerned if we start from a foundation of libertarianism and build up from it. In public policy — as opposed to cultural politics — I think the default position should be libertarian and then arguments should be made for why we should deviate from libertarian dogma. I’m more sympathetic to arguments based on tradition and custom than your average libertarian. But I’m more hostile than I used to be to what you might call neo-traditionalism in the forms of “national greatness” conservatism, Buchananism, Crunchy Conservatism, and the rest. I am extremely susceptible to nostalgia, but intellectually I think it is more often than not a poison to clear thinking. Starting from libertarian assumptions puts you in a better place to identify nostalgic toxins. My problem with the so-called paleolibertarians is that they are often more nostalgic than the conservatives they denounce.

The beginnings of our conservative friends having some sense knocked into them, or what? Discuss.

I’m one of the original co-founders of The Liberty Papers all the way back in 2005. Since then, I wound up doing this blogging thing professionally. Now I’m running the site now. You can find my other work at IJ Review.com and Rare. You can also find me over at the R Street Institute.

Thinking About Gun Laws

I’ve been doing some more thinking about gun laws. In the course of that, by sheer luck apparently, I was sent a quote that makes an interesting counterpoint to the usual Classic Liberal theory about the right to keep and bear arms. If you don’t believe all us pro-gun nuts about the reason why people should own weapons, perhaps you will believe one of the worst anti-liberty folks of the 20th century. Without further ado, two quotes on guns from Hitler and Jefferson.

“The most foolish mistake we could possibly make would be to allow the subject races to possess arms. History shows that all conquerors who have allowed the subject races to carry arms have prepared their own downfall by so doing. Indeed, I would go so far as to say that the supply of arms to the underdogs is a sine qua non for the overthrow of any sovereignty.”
— Adolf Hitler

“No free man shall ever be de-barred the use of arms. The strongest reason for the people to retain their right to keep and bear arms is as a last resort to protect themselves against tyranny in government.”
— Thomas Jefferson

I would go so far as to say that most politicians, law enforcement, etc. who want to prevent gun ownership are anti-liberty, which is why they want to take guns away.

One more thing to consider. Hubert Humphrey, not exactly known for his conservative or libertarian views, said the following:

“Certainly one of the chief guarantees of freedom under any government, no matter how popular and respected, is the right of citizens to keep and bear arms…. The right of citizens to bear arms is just one guarantee against arbitrary government, one more safeguard against the tyranny which now appears remote in America but which historically has proven to be always possible.”
— Hubert H. Humphrey
(1911-1978) US Vice-President, US Senator (D-MN)
Source: “Know Your Lawmakers,” Guns magazine, February 1960, p.6

Update: One more interesting quote. It should make anyone go “what the …. ?” If you think gun control laws are a good idea, you just might want to consider who agrees with you and why.

“A system of licensing and registration is the perfect device to deny gun ownership to the bourgeoisie.”
— Vladimir Ilyich Lenin

Security executive, work for Core Security, veteran, kids, dogs, cat, chickens, mortgage, bills. I like #liberty #InfoSec #scotch, #wine, #cigars, #travel, #baseball

Religious Liberty On Trial

The name Abdul Rahman has made its way around the blogospher in the past several days. Who is Abdul Rahman, he is an Afghan who is under threat of a death sentence for converting from Islam to Christianity. I first wrote about Rahman on Sunday, and again last night. His story has also been picked up by Michelle Malkin in posts here, here, and here.

The assault on liberty that this case represents could not be more apparent:

KABUL — The judge deciding whether an Afghan man should be executed for converting to Christianity does not understand what all the fuss is about.
“In this country, we have [a] perfect constitution. It is Islamic law and it is illegal to be a Christian and it should be punished,” Judge Alhaj Ansarullah Mawawy Zada said in an interview yesterday.

Contrast the judge’s quote with this from the Sage of Monticello:

The legitimate powers of government extend to such acts only as are injurious to others. But it does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods or no god. It neither picks my pocket, nor breaks my leg.

If the Afghans allow this man to die, they will show the world that the Taliban may have gone, but their spirit lives on.

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