2010-08-16

On Second Thought, I Do Have Something to Add

Further to the below link, I would like to add a few words about freedom in the Western world.

In my view, it is a categorical misrepresentation to suggest that America has a long and storied tradition of religious and cultural tolerance. We are, after all, a nation with a history of human slavery, foreign aggression, "Kaiser Bill," Japanese internment camps, broken treaties, freedom fries, ghetto racial enclaves, and a progressively swollen anti-immigration sentiment. One is inclined to agree with those leftist cynics who label us all bigots and spend their time apologizing for their "white guilt" and other kinds of guilt.

Make no mistake, we in the United States do not have clean hands when it comes to bigotry.

What makes the USA different, however, has been our commitment to maintain institutionally upheld freedoms in the face of our inherent private biases. A really great example of this would be the often-panned Jehovah's Witnesses, and their ability to win a series of revolutionary Supreme Court cases in the first half of the 20th Century. Despite wave upon wave bigotry thrown their way, the Jehovah's Witnesses prevailed, and laid the foundations for the civil rights movement of the 1960s. Simply stated, with out their accomplishments three decades prior, there likely would not have been a civil rights movement in America.

And the really great thing is that these stories are not unique. The Underground Railroad, the plight of Irish and Chinese immigrants in the late 19th Century, the women's suffrage movement, and yes even the marriage movement and the plight of latino immigrants today. All of these movements come from the same place - the desire to simply be left alone, despite living lives that are very different from mainstream, majority life.

I am getting progressively more alarmed by American society's inability to allow people to lead divergent lifestyles. Note that this is not the same thing as accepting those lifestyles. No one need accept anything with which they fundamentally disagree. Of course, that isn't the point. Acceptance is never on the table. The question is neither acceptance nor happiness nor any of the rest of it.

What we are talking about, plainly and simply, is our increasing willingness to use the apparatus of the State to force people into leading the kinds of lives we determine to be correct. That is what makes 2010 different from yesteryear. We no longer accept that some rich people will choose to hoard their wealth rather than donate it. We no longer accept that some immigrants will refuse to learn English. We no longer accept that some people oppose Social Security and universal health care. We no longer accept that some religious people will have the unparalleled audacity to construct an obviously inflammatory building on a controversial site. We are now more intolerant than ever. All must conform to majoritarian lifestyle. All must obey the will of "the people," whoever the hell they happen to be at any given moment.

Ladies and gentlemen, this is scary. If you are willing to utilize the brute force of the federal government to make other people conform to your ideal lifestyle, there is simply nothing you won't do, no line you will not cross in pursuit of your own personal utopian society.

And that, friends, is tyranny.