Posts Tagged ‘bigotry’
I’ve been thoroughly enjoying having nothing to do for the past week as finals season (which is really about a month of pure hell) finally wrapped up, and I’ve been wondering what to write about next. I can’t bring myself to cover anything particularly heavy; I’d bore myself to tears just trying to put together something coherent about the FDA and drug costs, or censorship (as topical as that would be around “******mastime”), or even about the very welcome news that “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” is on its way out the door – let alone try to package any of those topics in less than 2,500 words so somebody might actually read it. So if you were hoping to stumble across my take on the START, or Manifest Destiny, or the Hawley-Smoot Tariff, tough. I’m going to talk about conspiracy theories, because it amuses me to do so.
Libertarians get painted as conspiracy nuts, and it’s not terribly difficult to figure out why. I mean, let’s go down the list:
1. We’re third-party.
2. We really can – and often do – blame “the government” for about anything.
3. Texas “Libertarian Republican” (massive qualifying quotation marks) gubernatorial candidate Debrah Medina couldn’t give a straight answer on “So was 9/11 an inside job, or what?” nine years after the fact. Thanks for the press, Deb.
It kind of sucks, but what can you do? When libertarians track societal problems back to the body behind misguided public policy (also known as “the government”), we can get a little knee-jerk about it instead of realizing we ought to articulate why it is we’re blaming government this time around. If libertarians aren’t careful, we can end up sounding like tinfoil hat-wearing, black helicopter-spotting 2012 believers instead of a group of folks routinely arguing against the “value” of government intervention large and small.
Today I’m going to try and dispel the myth that libertarians are inherently conspiracy theorists by examining why we might’ve been misconstrued as a whole. After all, you non-libertarians out there might’ve once asked something like,
So do you guys really believe 9/11 was an inside job?
By and large, no. Hell no. But why would people believe that we did? In no particular order:
1. Deb Medina.
2. Our “the government” mantra.
3. Our inherent suspicion of what drives our foreign policy.
I wasn’t a libertarian on September 11, 2001. I was really more of a “if Al Gore would just shut up, everything would be sunshine and daffodils” Republican. I was incapable (more accurately, I was utterly disinclined) to view world events outside of the two-party spectrum. My perfect solution to the terrorism problem was to kill everyone who tried to kill us, and then move on. No kidding: I cheerfully played “Bombs Over Baghdad” when Operation Iraqi Freedom kicked off. I certainly didn’t want to kill “all those A-rabs” because I’m not – nor have I ever been – a bigoted idiot, but I wanted the responsible parties lined up and shot summarily, and I thought everyone would come out ahead if we did.
Ah, if it were only that easy.
While the nation was caught up in an understandable patriotic fervor, you had libertarians coming out and being brave enough to say, “You know it’s not like we aren’t at least partially responsible for this tragedy, in that we ought to be looking at how our foreign policy contributed to this.”
This call for analysis was unfortunately confused as “We really deserved that mass murder.” Hell, that’s what I heard. It pissed a lot of people off; how could those libertarians say such a thing?! And it wasn’t a long step for people to believe that when libertarians said “the government is, in a way, responsible for this attack,” they actually meant “our government conducted this attack.” And why wouldn’t people assume that’s what libertarians were saying? Starting on 9/12 there was a sudden abundance of legitimate crazies coming out of the woodwork to moonlight as building code inspectors, rambling on about controlled demolition and other intricacies of architectural engineering like how the melting point of steel is too high for burning jet fuel to cause the World Trade Center to collapse all by itself (apparently somebody was busy huffing glue during 7th period Chemistry, or else they’d have realized you don’t have to actually liquefy steel to weaken its strength). I firmly believe libertarians got lumped into the conspiracy category out of hand in a “in the wrong place at the wrong time” kind of way.
Even though we libertarians believe the government is, in a sense, all-powerful (with its inherently stupid, heavy-handed, coercive, monopolistic, and counter-productive nature), the government can’t be the equivalent of a bumbling toddler stomping on sand castles and eating paint chips while it’s also a shadowy puppet-master brilliantly conducting the most ludicrously complex military conspiracy in The Entire History of Anything, Ever. And I think we can agree that all evidence points to “bumbling toddler” being infinitely more likely, yes?
Do libertarians believe in The Illumanati, et al.?
Again, no, that’s anything but a mainstream opinion.
If you don’t know, The Illuminati is pretty much a catch-all phrase that describes some ultra-powerful group of behind-the-scenes individuals controlling everything that happens around the world. The assumption is that every financial crisis, war, et cetera, is a deliberate conspiracy that is supposed to benefit this group of people somehow.
Why would anyone believe something this ridiculous? Lindsay Lohan can’t so much as fart without everyone hearing all about it, but we’re supposed to believe nobody’s been able to discover and prove the existence of “The Illuminati?” Well, you have to realize that it’s awfully convenient to believe in a mysterious “Order” being responsible for everything. Seriously, imagine being able to chalk up every evil in the world to one root cause. How perfect is that? And it’s not like this is an unprecedented trend in world history.
And, yeah, this goes right back to “the government” coming across as a libertarian’s perceived convenient scapegoat for everything. The Libertarian Party insists that it’s “The Party of Principle,” which I think is as good a slogan or moniker as any, but unfortunately I think too many libertarians forget that we’re supposed to be explaining our principles rather than assuming everyone understands where we’re coming from. It’s not like we can’t avoid being misunderstood if we take a little time to have a dialogue instead of a well-intentioned diatribe.
Do libertarians think the Mob killed Kennedy?
Probably not, but I think the Mafia legitimately could have had a roll in it. Read “I Heard You Paint Houses” on the relationship between Jimmy Hoffa, The Teamsters Union, the Mob, and Bobby Kennedy if you want to be entertained. It’s a good book.
My point here is that there’s a difference between considering alternative scenarios and committing to wildly implausible theories. Libertarians trumpet themselves as individuals, which means we like to think that, well, we like to think for ourselves. I figure that’s a positive thing… why wouldn’t it be? There’s nothing inherently bad with wondering about the “official story” and considering cui bono and all that, but that doesn’t mean we libertarians are stocking up on canned tuna and spare magazines for our Uzis while we reinforce our backyard nuclear fallout shelters because “they’re coming for us any day now.”
So, please, if you hear we’ve all hopped on the proverbial bullet train to Straight-Jacket Junction, give us libertarians the benefit of the doubt. There’s probably a reason why we’re being painted as crazies, but it’ll be the wrong reason; yes, we question, we wonder, and we say unpopular things and get mis-characterized, but that doesn’t mean we commit to conspiracy wholesale.
But, uh, that being said and all… if anyone in a black suit and mirrored shades asks you about me, I said it was Lee Harvey Oswald and only Lee Harvey Oswald. Now excuse me, because I’ve got to sweep my room for listening devices.
From the Libertarian Party Platform:
3.5 Rights and Discrimination We condemn bigotry as irrational and repugnant. Government should not deny or abridge any individual’s rights based on sex, wealth, race, color, creed, age, national origin, personal habits, political preference or sexual orientation. Parents, or other guardians, have the right to raise their children according to their own standards and beliefs.
Pretty self-explanatory, right? If you’re a bigot, you’re an idiot. This isn’t to say that you personally can’t be a bigot if you want to – that is so long as you’re not infringing on anyone else’s rights – so if you really insist on having your own private Whatever Supremacist meetings, enjoy them in the comforting knowledge that your rights allow absolute stupidity. The point of this platform plank is to state that no government entity can or should ever engage in discrimination of any kind; that is totally forbidden. I think we can all agree that this is an accurate and unobjectionable position, right? However, some people will mistakenly translate this into “we’re all equal.” They are wrong.
Equality is the single stupidest idea anyone ever came up with. We’re not all equal, and the notion of equality is nothing short of a catastrophe. And I realize that this statement might leave you saying something like:
There’s a tremendous difference between equal rights and equality. Everybody has the same rights, but I personally am tempted to vomit every time I hear some variation of “we’re all equal.” Even my most creative profanity fails to describe my level of hatred for that statement.
What is equality? I insist that it is the utter and systematic destruction of individuality for all parties concerned, masked as justice and virtue.
You have to be overreacting.
The concept of equality – please train yourself to inject a mental “and that’s not the same as equal rights” so I don’t have to keep typing it – is based on the ludicrous assumption that fairness is a beautiful thing that springs forth from this womb of moral righteousness that is Sameness. And while the concept of fairness is indeed directly related to the notion of equality, that’s nothing to celebrate. So I’m really sorry, Fairness, but there’s no trophy for having a bad mother.
Who the hell actually objects to fairness?
I know, right? Well, this is sort of a thinker. For starters, you have to realize that nothing is or can be fair. Sure, in the name of fairness there are ground rules for checkers and so forth to establish some sort of a level playing field, and we all shout “that’s not fair!” when somebody wrongs us when we’ve done nothing to earn their venom, but consider what “fairness” really means. It means that we’re either entitled to a particular outcome that we feel we deserve, or that someone got something they didn’t deserve and that just isn’t right – it needs to be “fixed.”
Considering this, it turns out that inherent in the idea of fairness is that somebody has to decide who has something that somebody else should have. Now when you’re talking about horse-collar tackles in football or using certain foreign words in Scrabble (“What the hell is ‘borscht?!’ How is that legal?!”), fairness is actually just a phrase to describe the concept of abiding by mutually agreed-upon rules. And, when you’re talking about somebody punching you in the face when you’ve done nothing wrong, unfairness is actually just a word you’re using as a way of describing a totally unjust infringement on your rights. But fairness – real fairness – is completely consumed by the idea that everyone is entitled to an equal outcome. Anything else, therefore, is unfair.
Ok, so let me get this straight. While we use “fairness” to mean different things, you’re saying the actual meaning of fairness is just an enforcement of equality?
Yeah, basically. And the kicker is that somebody has to decide what’s fair and what isn’t. Unlike rules everyone agrees to and rights that everyone already has, what fairness means is that some third party is going to decide who gets what, and why. Fairness is the arbitrary muscle behind equality. Fairness is a demand for absolute power to enforce a vision of “right.”
Ok, so fairness is based in the notion of equality, and fairness is about dividing up who gets what based on what somebody thinks is “right.” Where things start to break down is when you consider that no human being can ever be truly impartial when it comes to deciding fairness. Fairness is always influenced by a particular world view, which is why fairness today means racial quotas in college institutions (this is considered equality), taxing producers to support certain consumers’ wants (this is considered equality), and the entire concept of “social justice” (also known as “getting even,” and this is also trumpeted in the name of equality).
“There are too many white people in this classroom! Something is horribly wrong!”
“You own too many Mercedes! I demand tax-subsidized compensation for your success!”
“Remember slavery, asshole?! I deserve reparations!”
Ah, equality! Gimmie, gimmie, gimmie, because I am entitled. You’re in the wrong majority, you have too much (more than me), and your ancestors might have been in a group of really bad people. Fork it over. It’s…only…fair.
But some people really have too much!
Read this and get back to me. I’ve already covered it.
Oh, yeah. Well… you’re being unfair.
Ha. That’s a really poor choice of words.
What I mean is that equality isn’t just about fairness by way of redistribution. Equality is about ending discrimination, too.
Not quite. In fact, it’s about the exact opposite. All you’re doing with this notion of “fairness” is discriminating against one category of people to prop up another. How does that jive with what you call fair?
Consider the implications! If you’re confiscating wealth or rigging a system against certain people, how in God’s name can you seriously say that equality is about equality? What you’re saying is that we are not equal, and you’re proving it by demanding special treatment.
“Equality” and “fairness” are just as responsible for discrimination as abject bigotry. What’s the suggestion of equality/fairness by way of racial quotas? “Blacks just can’t make it on their own.” Penalizing others’ success? “Nobody – except me – deserves what they earn.” Social justice? “I’m going to get my revenge, because I’m a victim of something that somebody did somewhere, some time.” This is what people do, and this is what they call equal and fair. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Before you start coughing up blood and writing me anonymous death threats, let me repeat and semi-clarify: equal rights, which absolutely everyone has and deserves, has nothing to do with equality and fairness. Bigotry is nothing short of evil and disgusting, but you must realize that “equality” and “fairness” are just two insidious vehicles that serve to perpetuate it. I’ll leave you with the words of Barry Goldwater, who says it much better than I ever could:
Those who seek absolute power, even though they seek it to do what they regard as good, are simply demanding the right to enforce their own version of heaven on earth. And let me remind you, they are the very ones who always create the most hellish tyrannies. Absolute power does corrupt, and those who seek it must be suspect and must be opposed. Their mistaken course stems from false notions of equality, ladies and gentlemen. Equality, rightly understood, as our founding fathers understood it, leads to liberty and to the emancipation of creative differences. Wrongly understood, as it has been so tragically in our time, it leads first to conformity and then to despotism.