A few years ago a Danish cartoonist drew a political cartoon that reflected negatively on Mohammed, the leading prophet of Islam. For his indiscretion, a fatwa was issued on the life of the cartoonist, and he was forced into hiding.
Many of us marveled, yet were not surprised, at the intolerant reaction of the Islamic world to a political cartoon. Yet, as I think about it, the same is occurring right now in America.
About 47% of Americans voted against an agenda that would â€œfundamentally transform America,â€ in the last presidential election. I canâ€™t speak for the rest of the 58 million Americans who voted that way, but for this American, I rather preferred protection of the principles that paved the way for American grandeur at the time of the nationsâ€™ founding. Those principles, clearly articulated in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, were founded in a recognition of the sanctity of life regardless of color or creed, the God-given universal right of liberty to the individual, and the freedom to plan and pursue a life of happiness and acquisition of property.
The Constitution went further in defining the limited role of a federal or national government by enumerating the powers that government would hold, and listed specifically some fundamental rights each citizen was entitled to. It went on, in the Tenth Amendment, to declare that those powers not specifically assigned to the federal government were reserved to the states and to the people. In other words, there was to be a very small, specifically functioned national government whose primary roles were protection of the country, facilitating interstate commerce, and standardizing currency.
Is that what we see the national government doing today? Is there even the most remote possibility that Thomas Jefferson or James Madison would look at what their federal government has evolved into, and recognize it as being the American government they intended? Individual freedom and liberty are impinged on nearly daily by those who seek the ever-expanding power and scope of government.
These principles of governance espoused by our Founding Fathers were considered â€œliberalâ€ in their day. The notion that power and rights were held by individuals who derived them divinely, rather than being granted by a government, despot, monarch, or a parliament was truly radical. Yet most Americans still believe in those principles, and as such, are true liberals; classical liberals. I consider myself to be one.
For the most part, we who are classical liberals have a guttural reaction to what we see perpetrated by those in Washington who are fundamentally transforming the nation from what made us great, to a socialistic, secular European state only different from the rest of Europe by being â€œacross the pond.â€
And it is in this context that we see similar reactions to what befell the Danish cartoonist. It is possible to discuss civilly and cogently with some who disagree with the classical liberals, but not with extremists. Those of us who object to the policies, and the cult of conformism promulgated by the mainstream media for the current administration, are made the target of an ideologically spawned â€œfatwa.â€. To the extremists, we are to be silenced at all costs. To facilitate this, they intentionally devolve their attacks to the most base levels, engaging in character assassination, and unwarrantedly charging â€œracism,â€ or â€œhate speechâ€ to quell our dissent. They are the ones who intently look for racism or hate behind everything, and not surprisingly, find it whether itâ€™s there or not.
For these extremists, intolerance has supplanted tolerance; a rigid dogmatism has replaced pursuit of truth; intimidation and accusations are used to stifle dissent rather than freely engaging in the exchange of ideas; and attempted censorship has replaced rational discussion.
For some reason, it appears that those of us who are classical liberals are perceived not just as political rivals with opposing views, but as enemies to be vilified and silenced. Perhaps this is because those who support the current transformation of America donâ€™t want their bubble burst that weâ€™re all â€œunifiedâ€ now, and think the classical-liberals should just sit idly by and watch our founding principles be cast aside by a presumably messianic figure. We may be more divided more now than ever.
Cries for â€œunityâ€ in this transformation of America are moot, for classical liberals are â€œbitter clingersâ€ to the principles and culture that made America what it is, and will not simply acquiesce to the mantra for â€œchange.â€ Iâ€™m sure many Americans didnâ€™t know this was the change they voted for last November. The transformers may have the upper hand now, but our fate as a European satellite nation is hopefully far from set.
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