I wouldn’t call myself a libertarian, but I’ll give them one win without reservation: they are the most principled group of people I have ever encountered.
I say often that the most interesting conversation and exchange of ideas does not happen between right and left, but within the right itself. Now, I know libertarians may not really be considered “right wing” in some instances, but I do think there is a lot of overlap, and for the purpose of this article, I’ll toss most of the libertarians into the Basket of People Who Will Actually Talk And Not Just Block Me.
This actually plays into a common criticism I hear about libertarians, that they are so focused on arguing minutiae amongst themselves that they do not really engage in the greater discourse, and therefore do not gain the same following as other political schools of thought do. Libertarians are principled – the problem is, the conversation about what principles most of them will hold is never resolved. They are the kings of talking to each other, which is something I admire about them. It’s just that sometimes you have to talk – and sometimes you have to get things done.
But hey, I’m not a libertarian, so I won’t culturally appropriate their inner workings too much.
Today, I want to talk about principles, and why they are something I struggle with on a constant basis. Actually, it’s not just me. I think most, if not all of us, struggle with our own personal principles on a constant basis as we grow and change throughout our lives. It’s just that when you’re in the business I’m in, your integrity is always on display. Your principles are always questioned. And, when you go through the human process of adjusting your principles to fit the world you find yourself in, you do it with an electronic record of where you changed your mind.
I cannot escape this reality. What I can do is be honest about it. A big part of why I love what I do is the rawness of my political journey being on display. It’s cathartic to know that I am taking part in a conversation so much bigger than myself – but also knowing that I’m still just me, one person in seven billion, trying to get through life and think a little better and be a little better tomorrow.
This topic was inspired by one principled libertarian who I am honored to call a friend. He had me on his podcast last month, and we had a great conversation about Islam and free speech in Canada. Earlier today we had a nice back and forth message conversation on Twitter. He asked me a pretty simple question, but of course, sometimes simple questions have the most complicated answers.
“What’s the solution to Islam in the West if even the moderate Muslims are guilty by association?”
Okay, I’ve talked about Islam a lot lately. I promise it is not all I want to talk about – but let me tell you, it’s a much harder topic to stay away from when my usual fascination with the ideology itself is constantly brought out of dormancy with these constant terrorist attacks. It’s a cloud which hangs over my work, an issue I believe to be very urgent above most others.
And, also, it illustrates very well where I struggle deeply to be principled.
Here is a tweet from the aforementioned friend, which summed up a lot of his points in our conversation quite eloquently. (Aside from being principled, I also know a ton of libertarians who are way smarter than me.)
We can't change the inherent nature of our culture in the name of protecting it. Either we embrace change or we maintain our principles.
— Resistance Podcast (@Rise_And_Resist) March 26, 2017
We had gone back and forth over several messages, and he could have saved me a whole lot of thinking by just saying this. Because it really cuts to the crux of the issue, doesn’t it. Here’s how I interpreted it.
Who we are exists because of these principles we hold so dearly. If we change those principles, we will no longer be who we are.
Now, I don’t know exactly what principles he was referring to, but I’ll make an assumption that “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness” fall in there.
I love those things. I love the American constitution (I wish Canada had the same one). Most of all, I love the freedom of speech it affords, and I acknowledge that without freedom of speech (even though freedom of speech in Canada is not absolute) we wouldn’t even be able to discuss the problem of Islam, nor the ethical implications that come with every possible solution to the problem.
I want to stand here and say, this is what I believe. These are the principles upon which I stand. I am unshakeable.
And yet, I don’t know if I can say that. I can’t retweet that tweet, as smart as it is and how thought provoking. I can’t draw my line there.
Because I believe that there is a part three to this.
Who we are exists because of these principles we hold so dearly.
If we change those principles, we will no longer be who we are.
But if we capitulate to a new set of principles, we’ve lost who we are anyway.
This is why Islam matters so much. This, right here. If I had to pick one issue that encapsulates all of the other anti-human garbage that is Islamic doctrine, this is it. Their principles are at odds with mine. With ours. Yes, even those who disagree with me on most things. Even those on the left. These are the principles of the West, and Islam will destroy those principles if we let it.
When it comes to practical solutions to The Islam Problem, I wish I knew. My friend and I talked a bit about the practical stuff, and I think we both agreed freedom of speech being as protected as humanly possible was the most vital first step, including criticizing Islam without fear. We both also agreed that mass immigration of Islamic culture without assimilation was a terrible policy. Also, I didn’t mention this to him, but how about we start actually going after people who we know are planning a terrorist attack before they do it and kill people nine months later.
From there, we diverged. I found myself defending more government surveillance and stripping of some freedoms, because I believe we are at war with this ideology.
He countered with the fact that war is often used to curtail liberties for all, and I don’t disagree with this as a historical point.
But what about on a principled point?
“Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.”
Okay, so, this quote might not even be really talking about what I’m talking about here, but the point stands.
And I don’t know where, exactly, I stand. Where is the line drawn? Am I okay with surveilling all mosques? Am I okay with banning mosques? Am I okay with a true Muslim ban based only on their religion as being Muslim? Am I okay with deporting all Muslims? Am I okay with putting Muslims in gated areas under heavy police presence?
Of course, I am not okay with everything I just said, Not even close. However, I do know that this question of Islam and how dangerous I believe it to be is one I will continue thinking about.
In some ways, I tend to lean towards being black and white. I have always seen myself as principled, even when I was on the left in the past. I am not a moral relativist. I think there is good, and there is evil. There is truth, and there is untruth.
However, untangling what those are?
That’s something I’m going to be doing for the rest of my life.
With Islam, I’ll give you my position today, as it stands, with the disclaimer that like anyone else I am still learning.
I want liberty and freedom for all, but I am not suicidal.
And if I have to be seen as a little less principled to survive, that may be a choice I have to make.
And this is all a question because I believe Islam is a uniquely dangerous ideology. To those out there who believe in God, you may understand that more on a spiritual warfare level, but even for all of those who hold no beliefs, it is clear that Islam has had a truly terrifying history of domination.
To hold Islam to the same standard I hold the Western world to is, I believe, a suicidal position.
I support massively restricting immigration for the short term, and implementing extreme vetting in the long term, from any country which has a culture that is antithetical to American culture. Yes, this basically means Islamic culture. Oh well. Politically correct, I am not.
I support surveillance of mosques which have been shown to be linked to fundamentalism and terrorism.
I support banning Sharia law in any form.
I support societal encouragement of Westerners to have more children (no, that doesn’t mean white people). Demographic takeover is a tactic of Islam we have seen historically and recently.
More than anything else, I support changing the attitude of the culture away from encouraging Islam and towards a distrust of the ideology, the same way we view other terrible ideas as Westerners. We do this, all of us, by educating ourselves on what Islam actually calls for for non believers, and by speaking the truth without fear or unnecessary disclaimers.
There’s obviously more, and I may change my tune on some of these based on future research, but that’s what it is. I don’t want this article to be even longer than it already is, so I won’t pontificate on specific policies. Basically, it comes down to this.
I don’t agree that we must never restrict liberty for safety. But I am happy to talk about degrees.
War is hell. This is war.