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Hullabaloo


Friday, April 16, 2004

 
Freedom Crusade

Both TAPPED and the Political Animal praised Ron Klain's admonition against making mock of President Bush's invocation of religion in his press conference the other night. I think it's probably true that his statement about the "Almighty" giving the gift of freedom to every human being is inspiring to many Americans and shouldn't be laughed at. . However, Klain also seems to imply that the use of the term "unalienable" rights in the Declaration of Independence somehow justifies what appears to be a new global moral crusade to "bring freedom" to the world:

Rather than laughing at the president's invocation of the notion of natural rights to justify his policies in Iraq, Democrats should make it abundantly clear that they share the president's view that all humans are created free and are entitled to enjoy the benefit of that innate freedom. After all, wasn't the idea of an "unalienable" right to liberty put into writing in 1776 by the father of the Democratic Party, Thomas Jefferson? And more recently, haven't these been the ideals that Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton and Gore pursued around the world -- often with great derision from conservatives?

Instead of belittling the president's reliance on the Almighty, Democrats should make clear that we share the president's goals but think that his methods have been deeply flawed. The mission may be from above, but the planning has been from someplace else.


I don't belittle his reliance on the Almighty, but straying from that to a messianic message of "spreading freedom" is quite obviously translating into the belief that the United States may use this as a pretext to invade countries irrespective of international law and civilized behavior. That kind of "liberation" is a goal I most vehemently do not share because the truth of the matter is that the United States is not imbued by the Almighty with omnipotence or any special claim to goodness and wisdom. Our crime statistics our justice system our poverty rate and any number of other serious flaws in our society prove this.

Freedom is a wonderful thing and I'm all for it, but I am a long way from being convinced that the United States of America is the best of all possible free worlds and I am deeply concerned by the idea that we are empowering leaders to take the position that we are so spectacularly superior to all other nations that it is an unalloyed good thing to "free" people around the world, including little children, even if it kills them. The price for this kind of liberation for many an individual is extremely high. It is very, very arrogant to assume that people are willing to pay it.

This is one good reason to have international institutions and a requirement for consensus before nations can go willy nilly "liberating" others. What we may see as "liberation" is oppression and exploitation to someone else, even within the US itself. We are not equipped either morally or intellectually to take this task upon ourselves. We simply do not have all the answers and Thomas Jefferson would be the first to admit that.

This is some dangerous shit, people. This is the kind of thing that makes people start humming "Ride Of The Valkyries," and talking about Ubermenschen. I thought the shop worn myth of American Exceptionalism was disturbing but the "American Freedom Crusade" scares the hell out of me.







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