By Onery Young Guns
Onery can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org for questions and comments
I’m glad to have had the opportunity to meet online so many like-minded individuals who are open to debate and discussion without animosity or loathing towards those who don’t always agree. In my experience, the best way to learn is to do, and in politics and philosophy, “doing” means “debating.” So with great pleasure and with the absolute utmost respect for Stefanie MacWilliams, I’d like to offer a solution to the dilemma she presents in her wonderfully candid article, “I Strive To Be Principled. But I Will Not Be Suicidal.”
Like Stefanie, I too would never call myself a Libertarian (primarily because America’s experiment with Libertarianism under the Articles of Confederation failed miserably but I digress). While I generally loathe political labels (which do more to box us into certain mindsets than they do to adequately convey what we believe), I guess I am satisfied (for now) with the title “Federalist”. It is a distinctly American political title, which coincides nicely with my distinctly American principles and devotion to the Rule of Law. Also like Stef, I too am constantly wrestling with my beliefs and my principles; I enjoy the same daily, cathartic journey to define myself and my beliefs so that I am a better person today than I was yesterday. I am not perfect, and the struggle is real.
The most surefire way to make ourselves firm and unshakeable in our principles is to first choose firm and unshakeable principles and lay them as our moral foundation. America was founded on such principles; so often to we hear about the Constitution of my country that we often forget the COTUS is a means, not an end. It describes the “how” not the “why.” What is our “why?” The principles that are the bedrock of this great nation, and that have made us the freest nation on earth in known history of man, are enshrined, not in the Constitution, but in the Declaration of Independence. The principles Stef’s Libertarian friend referred to, do include Life, Liberty, and Property (the Pursuit of Happiness is a euphemism for property rights, for we can never be happy unless we are guaranteed to be able to enjoy the fruits of our labors), specifically, “We Hold these truths to be self-evident, that that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”
Herein we see that ALL men are Created by God with certain inalienable rights. That these rights are to be held sacrosanct, and that Government is ordained to secure these rights from enemies both foreign and domestic without alienating the inalienable rights of ALL men.
So how does that translate into our current troubles with radical Islam? While I certainly agree with the Ben Franklin quote cited by Stef (and yes it does apply; even tho the historical context of that quote sheds a different light on it, the underlying principle isn’t changed by the context, but rather is fortified -tho that’s a different discussion for a different day), I think a Lincoln quote should be added as well:
“America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.”
I agree whole heartedly with Stefanie that radical Islam is an existential threat to the American way of life; as a theocratic political ideology it is wholly incompatible with Western Classical Liberalism (what I like to call the parent philosophy of American Conservatism and Libertarianism). Islamists are a very real danger to Life, Liberty, and Property, as they try to conquer the world thru subterfuge or violence (or both) in the name of Islam. However, the greater danger is that Americans -out of fear or pragmatism- abandon the principles that undergird the Great American Experiment and have seen to its success. In doing so, we may defeat once and for all radical Islam, but we will destroy ourselves in the process -America may live on as a country, but its spirit will have died in the process. War, and its many moral equivalents, are always catalyst by which benevolent dictators come into power and then, it is only a matter of time before benevolent dictators become malevolent ones.
It should be noted that the Founders were not strangers to the dangers of external threats to national security, or even to extremist radical Islamism. And while the times have changed, the principles they laid as the foundation for a free and secure republic are eternal. It should also be noted that in a free market of ideas, the ideas best suited to happiness and prosperity will always win out in open and honest debate. Government exists to ensure that such open and honest debate can occur without fraud or coercion. Once either occur, it is the government’s job to punish such with force, swiftly and with prejudice, while adhering to due process.
Our unique system of government -Federalism- is designed to secure our liberty; liberty and security are delicately intertwined, as Ben Franklin infamous points out. We cannot be considered free, unless we are also secure in our natural rights endowed to us by our Creator. This means radical Islam may not be allowed to deprive of us those rights as part of their campaign for global dominance. It also means government may not deprive us (or law abiding Muslims) of their rights in an effort to make us safe.
In America, we understand that “your right to swing my fist ends where my nose begins.” In America, Muslims enjoy every right endowed by our Creator that any other non-Muslim enjoys, including religious liberty. However, these religious liberties cannot be understood to allow individual Muslims to deprive others of their life, liberty, or property without due process or in violation of conscience. In America, men and women of all faiths may carry arms sufficient to defend themselves against religious-based attacks like the kind that have happened increasingly in Europe (where they don’t enjoy the free exercise of their God-given right to self-defense.) In America, we may blaspheme Allah or Muhammad with reckless abandon, just as Muslims can blaspheme Jesus Christ or the Virgin Mary, without any legal consequence. Thus, Christians and Muslims may engage in non-violent attempts at converting one another, with varying degrees of success and without fear of violent or legal reprisal. In America, a Muslim majority in a community may establish laws in accordance with locally held beliefs and customs, provided such laws do not violate the Supreme Law of the Land, the Constitution or the rights of the minority. In America, the same laws that protect Christian churches and Jewish synagogues from being surveilled by the government without a warrant also protect Islamic mosques. So long as we follow the Constitution as it now reads, and adhere to the principles outlined in the Declaration, Muslims, Jews, and Christians of all races and gender (and everyone else) are on equal footing, because we are all equal under the law. Indeed, it is WITHIN those principles we must stand, even as radical Islamists and politically correct Leftists try to alter our principles in the name of “tolerance” or multiculturalism, if we hope to survive.
The problem then, is not that we stick too closely to our principles, but that we stray too far. It is my belief that the nature and frequency of Islamists attacks in Western nations is designed to do just that: to create the kind of police state that Islam craves, to sow chaos and disorder so that western governments (which cannot be defeated by Islam using conventional warfare) may do the work of cracking down on the infidel on their behalf. Islamists believe that it is our own perceived moral depravity and spiritual weakness that makes us worthy of destruction -they also believe that such will be our downfall. To them it would be the greatest validation of their belief in America as the Great Satan if they could get us to abandon our principles to our destruction -something no “righteous” Muslim would ever do. Sticking to our principles isn’t just sound survival tactics, it’s the best form of defiance against the primitive barbarism and tyranny perpetrated by Islam.
Benjamin Franklin also once said, “we must all hang together, or most assuredly we shall surely hang separately.” He was speaking to the call to revolution against the tyrant King George, and the need for unity amongst the rag tag colonials against the overwhelming might of the British Empire. What unites a land as diverse as America are its principles. We must live or die by our principles, or most assuredly we shall surely die without them.