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We Are All Progressives and Liberals Now

We have never failed to recognize the apparent inconsistency among many of our conservative and libertarian friends when the subject of the military and law-enforcement comes up. The "death to Big-government" crowd seems to make a total U-turn when the subject of the military or police comes up. No missile-defense spending program is ever wasteful or too big. No form of police-work, even racial profiling, is inappropriate. No subsidy for defense companies is ever inappropriate or akin to welfare, or a violation of free-market principles. And no increase in the power and reach of the State to investigate crimes, is ever excessive.

We have especially noticed this to be the case in light of the recent request by the Bush administration through Attorney General John Ashcroft, to allow the government increased powers and resources to fight terrorism. They want increased authority for wiretaps and access to voicemails. And among other things, they want increased authority to detain individuals suspected for crimes. It is believed by many that some of the provisions sought by Mr. Ashcroft are in clear violation of the U.S. Constitution. And what is the response of our conservative and libertarian friends?

The same individuals who have spent the last few years wailing against gun control and hate crimes legislation are not only not calling for caution in the government's exercise in expansion, they are actually leading the efforts for such measures.

As Allen,'s webmaster rhetorically asked me on Sunday afternoon: Shouldn't conservatives in theory be opposed to all of this new legislation?  He  went on to remind me that the same argument that conservatives and gun-rights advocates use to defend their second amendment rights, is an appropriate defense in today's environment.  He repeated that talking point for my benefit, "We don't need more laws on the books we only need better enforcement of those already on the books."

Doesn't that argument apply to the events of September 11th?

As far as we know, there was no new technique that the alleged terrorists utilized that could not have been prevented by better enforcement of laws that are already on the books.  It seems that it is reasonable, at this point, to state that the hijackings were made possible by lax security and even security violations.  From what we understand, Logan international airport, where the two planes that crashed into the World Trade Center took off from, was particularly notorious for not following its own security rules and in fact had previously been fined by the FAA for security violations.

True to traditional conservative doctrine we ask, how does such known personal and systemic irresponsibility get resolved by more laws and authority granted to the State?

It is hard to argue that what happened on September 11th was much more than elusive and skillful criminals taking advantage of human error in the execution and administration of existing law and internal standards.  Such human error and negligence, in our estimation, can't be avoided by increased government authority.

And even more importantly, as Allen offered on Sunday - how does the increased surveillance powers in reference to e-mails, voice mails, and  phonetaps that Mr. Ashcroft is seeking pertain to September 11th?  After all, the government already had several of the suspects under surveillance, and already knew them to be affiliated with the chief suspect.  In addition, we look askance at Mr. Ashcroft's push for increased authority to fight money laundering.  How does money laundering play into what happened on September 11th?  

If over 19  individuals were involved , had jobs and lived in the United States already, how sure can one be that they needed to launder any money at all? The provisions that the Bush administration are pushing for are a clear example of mission creep.  This should be obvious to anyone who understands how the power of Big government grows, especially conservatives and libertarians, we thought.

That none of the usually boisterous conservatives are out front making such arguments (indeed it has been liberal Democrats like Senator Patrick Leahy and Rep. John Conyers leading the opposition) shows that more than respectful patriotism is at work.  Hardly.  The reason, in part, for the out-of-character behavior of conservatives and libertarians is the the skin color, ethnicity and belief system of the alleged perpetrators of the September 11th attacks.  We have noticed this dynamic at work among many political commentators - across the board - in the manner in which they totally dismiss the civil rights violations of Brown-skinned American immigrants who are being taken off of airplanes for no other reason than the fact that they have the same complexion as the men who are said to have committed the terrorist hijackings and crashes. The supposedly color-blind and race-neutral conservatives and libertarians are all of a sudden as cognizant of one's skin shade as the NAACP. And by the way, to be consistent, we can't remember any crew-cut, White-skinned young men, with militia doctrine and anti-government literature being removed from the proximity of federal buildings simply because they favored Timothy McVeigh, in physical appearance.  And we certainly did not hear any conservatives or libertarians calling for or apologizing for such racial profiling, in deed or theory.

We have seen commentators on different sides of the political spectrum like conservative Brit Hume and left-of-center Chris Matthews, excuse the increased loss of liberty and basic rights of Brown-skinned American citizens on the grounds that such action is understandable and reasonable in light of what happened.  We don't agree, but even deeper, we notice how conservatives like Hume and others drop their supposed principles and begin to think like liberals (according to how these conservatives characterize and identify them) because the nation has been attacked. The conservatives that speak like this focus exclusively on the intensity of the hatred that the terrorists hold for America and Western civilization as opposed to focusing on how the terrorists were successful.  This is a classic violation of  conservative doctrine.  As Rush Limbaugh always says, " We conservatives think, while liberals feel".  Now, with so many "feely" conservatives concerned about the emotions that Arabs and Muslims hold for America, how can we tell a liberal and a conservative apart from one another?

The terrorists weren't successful because they hated so strongly, as many conservatives are deluding themselves into believing.  They were successful
because Americans, in government and without, were lax and in violation of their specific duties and in the upholding of standards and laws. By focusing
on the race, religion, feelings, ideologies and emotions of the terrorists, rather than calling for the upholding and execution of  American laws and industry standards, already written and encoded, conservatives have become just like the liberals that they rail against, and as a result, the State has become more powerful than ever.  

The same Big government that can't be trusted to regulate the free market or media via the FCC, according to conservatives and libertarians, is to be
trusted as it uses NBC, ABC, CBS, CNN, MSNBC and Fox as its personal bulletin board - feeding every network and cable outfit's Pentagon, White House, State Department and Defense Department correspondents anything that it wants to get out to the public.  The same conservatives and libertarians who don't trust the government with their tax dollars; to regulate their industries, to inspect their food; to educate their children; and to ensure equal employment opportunities, now sit on their hands and feet and view that very same government as their sacred and exclusive source of accurate information and guidance regarding what happened on September 11th  and the newly rediscovered worldwide terrorist network.  The same government that these conservatives and libertarians are so distrustful of does not even have to wait on a grand jury to return evidence and an indictment against whoever committed the terrorist attacks, before the military obtains their approval to bomb any Brown-skinned person who had anything to do with Ussama Bin Laden. Even a whole nation of innocent Afghans.  

Of course, the innocent, civilian Afghans would be unjustified, in the eyes of most Americans, for wanting retribution for any indiscriminate American bombing.  And the new-age conservatives and libertarians would be the first to say so, in defense of the U.S. Military.

Conservatives and libertarians, the former standard-bearers for less government are now the leading proponents and defenders of Big government and the War State.

Yes indeed, the more we think about it, we are all Big Government liberals and progressives now, and for reasons that go far beyond patriotism.

Cedric Muhammad

Tuesday, September 25, 2001

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