Saturday, March 8, 2008

What liberals have learned from terrorists (and vice versa)

"I would remind you that extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice."

This line from Barry Goldwater's speech to the 1964 Republican Convention has since lent itself to frequent (mis)quotation, as the idea that motivated Goldwater's comment can easily be bastardized - even as the remark itself has often been taken out of context. Over time, people of every political stripe have justified extreme behaviors by way of an overarching pursuit of a greater good.

For whatever reason, when we thought of domestic extremism, we were given to imagine pro-life activists protesting (or worse) outside of abortion clinics, the Oklahoma City bombing or the religiously demented hoisting "God Hates Fags" signs at military funerals.

At least until last week.

Our vision of home-grown extremism must now include that directed against targets of liberal umbrage. In the wake of the bombing of the Armed Forces Recruiting Station in New York's Times Square, along with the recent firebombing of five luxury model homes north of Seattle, we have had to rethink what militant zealotry looks like.

The New York Times reports that the Times Square attack may be similar to two other bombings, one on the British Consulate in 2005 and the other at the Mexican Consulate in 2007. Whatever conclusion investigators are able to draw on that score, I would submit that the underlying intent of this attack - if not the means - was of a piece with attacks perpetrated by the Leftist-affiliated Earth Liberation Front (ELF)/
Animal Liberation Front (ALF), Earth First!, Primate Freedom Project, Justice Department and the Revolutionary Cells Animal Liberation Brigade: namely, to utilize violence to advance a radical liberal agenda.

According to the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), ELF/ALF have been responsible for more than 600 criminal acts since 1996, with their activities reaching at least as far back as 1984. (To be sure, the lineage of these groups extends to the
17 year reign of terror visited by Left-wing Luddite Theodore Kaczynski and further yet to the Black Liberation Army and the SDS/Weathermen.) The SPLC also indicates that - contrary to their previous eschewal of violence against humans - radical eco-terror groups have begun targeting people that they deem guilty of sufficiently atrocious offenses.

By way of the Left's unchallenged control over the institutions of opinion, liberals have been able to cow those with dissenting viewpoints into embarrassed silence. And those who would still deviate from the progressive memes are made subject to either ridicule, anathema or increasingly, terroristic violence. The Left's monopoly of viewpoint has facilitated a near monopoly of legitimized (read: exculpated) violence, such violence mitigated in the eyes of liberals by the perpetrators' stated goal of equality.
(That liberals are forgiving of their own is evidenced by the fact that both Bernadine Dohrn and Bill Ayers live free from opprobrium for their acts as members of the Weather Underground; to the eternal embarrassment of all Chicagoans, both Dohrn and Ayers are professors at Northwestern and the University of Illinois at Chicago respectively.)

Given that liberals have long embraced a
"radical chic" persona that legitimized the barbarity of murderous despots (as long as they were anti-American), it does not surprise that they have felt free to embrace acts of violence as a means to their ends. Much like our Islamist enemies, the Left has come to denigrate individual freedom as too dangerous to be entrusted to individuals, progressives holding equality more to be prized than freedom. In their pursuit of a faux equality - be it of races, genders, sexual orientations, economic classes or species - liberals forswear disparity of outcome resulting from the diversity engendered by liberty (liberty of course being distinct from equality, with both often at cross-purposes, each existing at the peril of the other.)

And while liberals and Islamists employ variant definitions of "freedom" (with Islam defining freedom as the opportunity to be subject to the will of Allah), the logical ends of liberalism and Islamism are remarkably similar, with both devolving into a state of unabated tyranny. Both Islamism and liberalism are radicalized by the idea of unfettered self-determination. The former confronts freedom with an all-encompassing religious orthodoxy, while the latter simply creates a bureaucratic orthodoxy to stifle personal sovereignty. Neither is above using violence as a means to establish their peculiar dogmas.

Much like Islamists, liberals use both our rule of law - and the core thereof, our inherent decency - to their devious advantage. Because the developed West holds fast to individual legal protections (it does not escape notice that eco-terror in particular is almost non-existent in places such as Cuba, China, North Korea, Iran, etc.), Left-wing terror is a fairly consequence-free endeavor.
But beyond utilizing specific provisions of occidental jurisprudence, terrorists of both sorts are not above using the judicial system itself to facilitate a sort of litigation in terrorem.

Lawsuits against telecommunication companies over their assistance with the NSA wiretapping program, along with legal action against the Bush administration on behalf of Guantanamo Bay detainees and climate change zealots have had a chilling effect on activities that might otherwise be seen as part of the benign course of normal events. This too serves the ends of those who fear the freedom of the individual more than the dictatorship of doctrine.

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