Dinesh D’Souza: Gun Totin’ Libertarian ?by Doug Mataconis
Dinesh D’Souza, whose has some pretty strange ideas in his career, seems to have a really strange idea of what being a libertarian is all about:
[H]ere is question for Ron Paul: shouldn’t the United States do what it can to promote liberty worldwide? I posed this question and Paul answered that America should be an example of liberty and not try to impose freedom by force. Alas, where freedom has come to countries it has usually come by force. How did we get freedom in this country? We had a revolution. How did African Americans win freedom? It took the invasion of a Northern army to secure for the slaves a freedom they were not in a position to secure for themselves. And let’s remember that America imposed freedom at the point of a bayonet on Japan and Germany after World War II, and the results have been excellent.
It seems that today’s libertarians are divided into two camps: the principled and the unprincpled. The former believe in liberty as a universal aspiration. The latter believe in freedom for us but not for anyone else. Ron Paul isn’t going to become president, but as America’s leading libertarian he would do the group a service by upholding freedom as a universal principle, as the founders did.
There are so many flaws with D’Souza’s argument that it’s hard to address only a few but let’s start from the beginning.
Yes, the Founding Fathers did resort to force and a revolution to protect and guarantee the rights of the citizens of the Thirteen Colonies. They did so, I would add, only as a last resort, and only after George III made it clear that he would not uphold the liberties of Englishmen who happened to live on the eastern seaboard of North America. It’s also important to note, because D’Souza does not seem to recognize it, that the same founders who used force to overthrow British rule, and especially George Washington, warned against the United States becoming involved in wars of “liberation” elsewhere in the world. And the United States remained officially neutral during the French Revolution.
As for D’Souza’s comments about the Civil War, he couldn’t be more plainly wrong. Yes, slavery was a root cause of the dispute that led to the secession of the Southern states, but the war itself was fought because of that secession, not because of the fact that the south held slaves. Lincoln himself made it clear that if he could have preserved the Union while keeping slavery intact, he would have done so.Â And the Emancipation Proclamation had no impact on slaves held in territory controlled by the CSA; it was, as every historian has recognized, a purely political move designed to influence public opinion in the North and in Europe in favor of a war that many were becoming tired of.Â So, no, the Civil War was not a war of liberation, even if it’s end result was the liberation of the slaves.
Finally,Â D’Souza’s argument about post-War policy in Japan and (West) Germany after World War II is irrelevant. Until the rise of the Soviet threat, the primary focus of post-war planning in the United States was to ensure that neither Germany nor Japan could ever again rise to pose a threat to world security. Bringing democracy, of a sort, to both nations was part of that process.
The most interesting thing about D’Souza’s definition of libertarianism, though, is that it says nothing about liberty. It says nothing about individual rights at home, the freedom of American citizens to live their lives without being monitored by the state, or the right of people to make a living in their chosen profession.Â All D’Souza seems to believe in when it comes to liberty is using it as a means to spread American hegemony, at the point of a gun.
That’s a pretty daffy definition of liberty when you think about it.
H/T: Lew Rockwell