Thursday, December 22, 2005

“They Hate Our Freedoms”

Via AMERICAblog, Michael Berube cogitates on some correspondence from a conservative friend.

Over the weekend, Mark Earnest, a local conservative-libertarian blogger, wrote to me to say that even though he still considered me a Communist liberal leftist (to which I replied, I really resent being called a liberal), he wanted me to know that he could no longer recognize his compatriots on the right as “conservatives.” His post reads, in part:

I almost feel I don’t know these people anymore. It seems now they feel government cannot have nearly enough power. Secret courts, secret warrants, secret prisons, suspect torture, massive data gathering on all aspects of US citizens including medical records, library records, and financial records are all wonderful things….

I truly and honestly do not understand. People who once proudly quoted Franklin’s “Those who give up essential liberty for a little safety deserve neither” now cheerlead the executive branch on in removing any judicial oversight, congressional oversight, and in fact ANY oversight (as most of these laws are secret) from the land. Far from the transparent government the founders imagined, we are now entering a system where laws are kept secret, prosecutions are kept secret, and national security is a password to removing any and all liberty that stands in the way of anything government wishes to do.

That’s just about right, Mark, except for one thing: when they’re not cheerleading for the executive branch, they’re calling the rest of us “traitors,” and demanding that the New York Times be prosecuted for reporting that the Cheney Administration has been spying on American citizens by executive fiat since 2002.

After reviewing some correspondence with those who consider themselves “conservatives” (and some of it would make Col. Flagg blush), Michael concludes:

People who support a clandestine program of warrantless domestic spying are not “conservatives” or “libertarians.” Neither are people who support the creation of a worldwide archipelago of secret torture sites. Neither are people who support the usurpation of the functions of government by the executive branch; who espouse the theory that the executive branch is the final arbiter of the legality of the actions of the executive branch; and who call for the investigation or prosecution of a free press that dares to report on the executive branch’s secret programs of domestic spying and outsourced torture.

Those people, my friends, are called the radical right.

Forget Jesusland. Forget the War on Christmas. You don’t have to be a crazed theocrat to be a member of the radical right! All you have to do is support the right of the Leader to create secret torture and domestic spying programs, and vent your spleen at the few remaining journalists with the courage to report on them. That’s what a radical right does for a living. It’s what a radical right lives for.

Barry Goldwater, hardly a darling of the liberals, knew there was trouble brewing on the right.

[B]y the 1980s, with Ronald Reagan as president and the growing involvement of the religious right in conservative politics, Goldwater showed an increasing libertarian streak that put him at odds with the Reagan Administration and religious conservatives. Goldwater viewed abortion as a matter of personal choice, not intended for government intervention. As a passionate defender of personal liberty, he saw the religious right’s views as an encroachment on personal privacy and individual liberties. In his 1980 Senate re-election campaign, Goldwater won support from religious conservatives but in his final term voted consistently to uphold legalized abortion.


In an 1994 interview with the Washington Post the retired Senator said, “When you say ‘radical right’ today, I think of these moneymaking ventures by fellows like Pat Robertson and others who are trying to take the Republican Party and make a religious organization out of it. If that ever happens, kiss politics goodbye.”

Thanks for the warning, Barry.