from the Congress Action newsletter

Everything's Changed

by: Kim Weissman
December 16, 2001

Following Nine-Eleven, media punditry was awash with the hopeful observation that "everything's changed". Instead of yellow ribbons, symbolizing hand-wringing woe-is-us victimology, out came American flags, symbolizing patriotism, unity, anger, defiance, and a cold determination to defend freedom and exact a terrible vengeance. The new symbols of America became the steel-beam cross miraculously surviving in the World Trade Center rubble and the grim-faced eagle sharpening his talons.

Suddenly the divisive bickering of our solons in Congress, arguing over Social Security lockboxes and tax cuts for the rich and gun show loopholes, and of our media chasing Gary Condit and analyzing the latest Florida vote recount, were seen to be the exercises in small-minded foolishness that they truly were. Suddenly serious people had a serious and deadly business to attend to. The Deification of shallow Hollywood types, determined to prove themselves deep thinkers and cunning political strategists, when in reality their pea-brains had trouble developing a single original thought, suddenly gave way to the recognition that the real heroes of our society were those who never got face-time on Arsenio or Leno or Letterman.

The realization came that the real heroes were the ordinary Americans who stormed into blazing buildings about to collapse, in order to save other ordinary Americans; that the real heroes were the ordinary Americans who, with a cry of "Let's roll!", sacrificed their lives and the lives of their wives and children by diving a hijacked airliner into the ground in Pennsylvania so as to save the lives of other ordinary Americans. The realization came that the real heroes were the men wearing the uniforms of our nation's armed forces, the men who, year in and year out, risked — and sometimes lost — their lives in distant lands and skies and on distant oceans while our fat, dumb, and happy nation basked in navel-gazing peace and dot-com millions. Now those armed forces had a job to do, and we were very grateful that they were there.

We are at war with a fanatic who vowed our destruction. Patriotism enjoys a rebirth, the nation is united in a just cause in a way that we haven't seen in at least a generation, and the vast majority of the people are relieved that our national policy apparatus is once again in the hands of cool and competent professionals instead of over age America-hating adolescents and aging retread hippies. Doubly relieved when the recently retired former president who headed that band of over age adolescents once again displayed his venality by publicly insulting the memory of the dead thousands, by blaming them for their own massacre.

And yet…The federal government continues to grow and absorb expanding facets of national life. The nation's economy continues its two-year slide into recession and deflation. Unemployment and bankruptcies continue to rise, new technologies to fuel economic growth are starved by litigation abuse, punitive tax rates, and a regulatory morass; and the evaporation of trillions of dollars of private wealth in equities continues to turn nest-eggs into goose-eggs.

No, September 11 did not cause our economic woes. A decade of Washington officialdom promoting class envy, hatred of wealth creation, hatred of entrepreneurial risk-taking, welfare-state dependency, nanny-state persecution, and the irrationality of wealth redistribution from the productive to the nonproductive, did that. A decade of democrats and leftists promoting socialist ideology, while republicans sucked their thumbs because they were too afraid of their own shadows to object, did that. It has become routine to despise entrepreneurial risk-taking and virtually every corporate endeavor, and to ignore the rights of private property and the rule of law essential for private enterprise to succeed.

There is a general hatred of business and profits, even by the people who owe their livelihoods to profitable business. Far too many people would prefer, as most democrats would prefer for them, to receive an unemployment check as a dependent of government, rather than a paycheck from a profitable private enterprise. The willingness of the entrepreneur to venture his capital and his effort is what made this country the world's economic powerhouse. Yet a class envy has taken hold, people have learned to disdain the entrepreneur and the businessman, and anyone who has more than they do. There is a reflexive opposition to tax cuts for business, and the fact that such tax cuts would allow higher employment simply doesn't register with the economic illiterate. Any tax cut is automatically doomed when it is branded as a tax cut for the rich.

How much mileage did Bill Clinton get from his promise to make the rich pay their "fair share", and how many people cheered because they thought that they would not be hurt by the punishment of economic success? Corporate greed has become such a widely used caricature that it is accepted as a truism. Thus is justified massive government regulation of business, the more the better, and that, too, is seen as a positive good. The economic illiterate should have second thoughts about punishing tax rates and stifling regulations on business when they lose their jobs as a result, but they are told, and so they believe, that layoffs are simply the result of corporate meanness. And so the engine of wealth creation is stifled, and people wonder why the economy stagnates.

But an ailing economy is not the most serious malady afflicting America. In many elite opinion makers, media patricians, and the academic aristocracy, there has evolved a loathing of this country that parades as sophistication, and a hostility to both economic freedom and individual liberty. Because of a generation educated into Constitutional and historical ignorance and the drivel of multicultural moral relativism, blinded by the media's constant fearmongering, censoring of opposing voices, and the fostering of ignorance, hatred, and division through lies and distortion, the nation that brought the world the unalienable Rights of Man has lost sight of the intertwined pole stars of individual liberty and national duty that made our national greatness possible. Individual liberty without a sense of national duty creates only anarchy, and national duty without the protected sphere of individual liberty creates only tyranny.

The troubles that beset the twin beacons of individual liberty and national duty (or, if you prefer, national unity) go far deeper than the current economic malaise. Despite the recent burst of patriotism and national pride, we know that there is still something deadly wrong in the heart and soul of America. What bedevils our national soul is not the invisible hand that drives our economy. What bedevils our national soul is the malevolent hand of hatred. Not the hatred of foreign fanatics bent on our destruction, but the virulent hatred of those born and raised here, who despite the freedom that this nation represents, despise what this nation is. That malignant hatred is far more dangerous than the hatred of foreign fanatics, because foreign fanatics are the enemies we can see, the enemies who openly declare their hatred. But the home-grown animosity comes in the guise of friendship, it smiles and pretends that it just wants to make America better, while hiding the dagger waiting to be plunged into the nation's heart.

Like the foreign fanatic, the domestic haters use our own institutions to undermine us, and use the compassion of the American heart to promote our destruction. Under the grinning mask of reasonableness, in the halls of power in Washington the leering face of political opportunism obstructs legitimate governance for partisan political gain. Outside the political sphere, the lies, the distortions, and the constant vilification of this country spewed by the domestic America haters give aid and comfort to our foreign enemies, providing the "evidence" used by those foreign enemies to justify their hatred of this nation, providing the propaganda that stirs up international hatred against us. Just as we wait to hear the voices of moderate Islam rise up and denounce the radical fringe that has perverted their religion, we wait for the moderate and traditional voices of open-minded political liberalism to rise up and denounce the extremists in their ranks who falsely portray America as a plundering, oppressive, terrorist nation of unalloyed evil. We wait in vain.

And so our individual liberty continues to decay. Because of our inherent sympathy with the underdog, a culture has developed that declares victimhood a virtue and demands special dispensation in every walk of life, usually at the expense of those who had nothing at all to do with the "victim's" plight but are cast in the role of victimizer nonetheless. Victimology is now used to excuse any sort of anti-social, aberrant, even criminal behavior. Because of our sensitivity to the rights of minorities — James Madison took seriously the need to protect against the tyranny of the majority — we have become so sensitive to the rights of minorities that minorities now tyrannize majorities.

Thus any manifestation of religious devotion must be rooted out, because such acts or displays are claimed to offend one out of a thousand in a given community. The sensitivity — the rights — of the other nine hundred ninety-nine must fall by the wayside in order to appease the one. We see the American flag taken down and the Pledge of Allegiance banned in some schools because they might offend a foreign student, a guest in this country who demands that his hosts accommodate his sensitivities. What about the sensitivities — the rights — of the citizens of the nation whose generosity he is taking full advantage of?

Because of our sense of fair play, we see agonized debates about whether foreign fanatics bent on our destruction should be accorded the full panoply of American judicial protections, so that we are seen as being fair to foreign killers who would, if they could, abuse those judicial protections to further our destruction. Yet the Constitutionally guaranteed rights of the citizens of this country are, one by one, eviscerated or ignored. Media and congressional elites see no inconsistency with demanding civil rights for foreign terrorists at the same time they plan to stifle the free speech and other Constitutional rights of Americans. Out of sympathy to those who, through no fault of ours, live in less fortunate circumstances around the world, we open our borders to virtually all who would come here and take advantage of our freedom.

But even when we find that very openness allowing terrorists and sociopaths to enter our country, we are still forbidden to close our borders or to limit immigration in any way, because that is claimed to be unfair to the unfortunate around the world. And underlying everything is the venomous hatred of the left for conservative philosophy in general and for this president in particular. Democrats and left-wing pressure groups will simply not allow "little" things like national tragedy, the slaughter of thousands of Americans, or war interfere with their ongoing crusade to do everything they can to obstruct, undermine, and ultimately destroy this president.

As we wage a war to protect our homeland from attack, we cannot lose sight of the fact that our individual liberty is still under assault here at home — not by the temporary measures instituted by men of character to root out foreign terrorists still hiding here, but more ominously by the permanent measures debated in the halls of Congress under cover of the war. Hypocrites on the left in government and in the national media drape themselves in the Bill of Rights and declare that we will have lost the war if we allow our freedoms to be even temporarily diminished by the exigencies of battle. They are irate because diminishing our individual liberty is a task that they have arrogated to themselves.

In his masterful speech of September 20, President Bush said that the Islamic radicals who attacked us would "follow in the path of fascism, and Nazism, and totalitarianism. And they will follow that path all the way, to where it ends: in history's unmarked grave of discarded lies." He didn't mention socialism, the deadliest lie of the 20th century, and the animating philosophy of the American left. Praise of big government is back, and the left glories in the expansion of government necessitated by the conduct of the war and the need to root out terrorists who still reside in our midst. And as government grows, individual liberty continues to shrink.

Wouldn't it be ironic if the net result of this first great war of the 21st century, fought in response to an attack against the very concept of freedom, ended up turning the world's greatest defender of freedom into a socialist gulag of oppression, poverty, and deprivation?

The above article is the property of Kim Weissman, and is reprinted with his permission.
Contact him prior to reproducing.

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16 dec 2001