Wednesday, April 27, 2005

This Imperfect Freedom

Beautiful, Imperfect Freedom

There is something beautiful in freedom. Freedom is imperfect, it often times causes those that own it to work against it either through confusion or in hopes of quick resolution or in trying to establish some sort of perfection. But, like the best of art or nature, it is in its imperfection that the true beauty lays.

It is only rigid thinkers and rigid demagogues who look for perfection. In looking for perfection, they are often the ones that enforce tyranny in order to obtain this fabled perfection.

True liberty requires an open mind and open minds often make mistakes. But, as they make mistakes and refine their thoughts and actions, the shape of the statue or pottery, the colors of a painting, the ideas of freedom begin to emerge in all their imperfect beauty.

Never ask for perfection, only ask for the striving.

If you demand perfection, you will never be free.

Limits on Freedom

There is a limit to our freedom. It's a hard concept to understand, this limit, because the barrier is invisible and it sometimes leads people to either go to far or not far enough in fear of breaching this invisible barrier.

Some people, who claim to understand this barrier and fight to protect it like the ACLU, do not really understand the limit at all.

First, let me explain what I mean by the limit of our freedom. This limit is in reality the concept that allows personal freedom. Sounds kind of bizarre, I know, saying that there are limits to freedom while at the same time declaring that the limit gives individuals freedom.

This limit is about how far your own freedoms go before encroaching on others. This struggle is the struggle that is fought every day in democracy. It never goes away because there are always forces, whether individuals, organizations or governments that have their own ideas that they want to express and they believe are good for the people.

I was trying to explain this limit to a young Iraqi girl on a forum last year who was talking about her Christian teachers in Mosul who were wearing the hijab, even though it was not part of their religion, in fear of retaliation or even death. Basically, she believed that it was a good idea for her teachers to do so in order not to make the "terrorists" angry. She hoped that they would all wear the hijab so that things might become calmer in her area.

I should explain that this young woman is a devout Muslim (she said so, I did not "guess" this fact) who did not see anything wrong with wearing the hijab whomever you are or whatever you believe.

She had a few contradictory ideas and it did teach me that many people do not understand the true concept of freedom. She continuously expressed the idea that she and her family just wanted to be free. Not just free to vote, though, or free to be their own people, but free from the “occupation” and free to make Mosul into what they wanted. I do believe the “they” in question were devout Sunni Muslims. Again, I’m not guessing at this, but she did express support for the local “mujihadeen” who were there to “protect them” and were not the terrorists. Of course, when pressed whom she believed were the terrorists, she stated that it was Israelis and other foreign “terrorists” in the pay of the United States who was causing the problems and writing the threatening words on the walls. There were many people on the forum, including Iraqis, who tried to explain that it was her “mujihadeen” that was responsible, but she didn’t believe them.

So, I tried from a different tact to have a little influence on her ideas by expressing it in something she could relate to.

This was about what real freedom meant and where the limits of her freedom or the mujihadeen “freedom” were bound compared to those of her teachers. I believe that this is a lesson that we all need from time to time.

Our freedom does have limits. It ends at the beginning of our fellow citizen.

I explained to the young woman this very concept. Because she believed and was a devout Muslim, regardless of how much she enjoyed her religion and found nothing negative in it, including wearing hijab, her enjoyment of it ended at her own body and mind. It could not be enforced on anyone no matter how much she thought it was for their own good nor how much these allegedly patriotic mujihadeen thought it was for their own good either.

But, it is difficult to try to explain this limit while at the same time talking about “good society” which is regulated through the general understanding of those in society of what is good for them as a whole.

I think that the important aspect of this is to understand the core concepts of “good society” aside from what I talked about before. Coming to a consensus about what is “good” for society is usually based on universal understandings of “good”. That means that stealing, assault, murder, rape, defacing public property, terrorizing or threatening citizens in order to force them to commit to one political or religious belief or another is generally not acceptable to anyone.

That doesn’t mean that one cannot be a practicing, devout Muslim or Christian or Buddhist or Jewish or whatever else one would believe in, but it does mean that it is the core concepts in a pluralistic society that must be adhered to in order to avoid crossing that limit.

Going back to the ACLU, I was having a discussion with my friend Kender at Kender’s musing on his radio show about why it is that the ACLU’s adaptation of this very idea is actually a problem. The problem, as I noted, is in identifying where this invisible barrier begins and ends for each individual’s freedom. In trying to define this individual freedom and the barrier, the ACLU has determined that even the slightest overt presence of a religious symbol, text or ideology particularly in a public space owned by the public, infringes on this personal freedom which is guaranteed by the first amendment of the Constitution: Freedom of religion, etc.

The idea that a religious symbol in a public space actually is a tool of the state enforcing a specific religion on people is an outrageous idea.

The few incidents that continue to come to mind are the attempts to eradicate any symbol of the Ten Commandments, long used in this country, from the inception of this country as a symbol of law, from public court houses begins to cross that invisible line. The other was the insistence that a cross be removed from the seal of the City of Los Angeles, a city whose heritage and very existence relies on the fact that Christian monks created an outpost there in 1771 that eventually led to Spanish settlers arriving there and creating an enclave that then became a city. Frankly, I was flabbergasted that a symbol that represented the history of the city was forcefully removed by judicial fiat.

Now, your average person living in society probably never really paid that much attention to the fact that a cross was on the city seal. Your average person probably did not even imagine that this symbol was enforcing any ideology on them. If they did notice this little cross on the seal, they probably understood history and from whence it came.

Last, also in California, was the recent removal of an historical memorial to the dead of World War I that incorporated a cross. The memorial was removed because it was on public property. The presence of the cross was objected to by an atheist (who has every right to believe or not believe however that is understood) as enforcing a religion on them, by the state, because it was on public property.

Maybe it’s just me, but the very fact that it was a memorial and had been standing there for more than fifty years, seems to at least have given it a “grandfather” protection, much less had to be understood as, having stood there for fifty years, it was not actively enforcing any religion on anyone as no one, until now, even imagined it to be such a forceful structure. The cross certainly could not speak. It could not actively proselytize. It was inanimate and only had the power that individuals gave to it.

This is where the individual freedom line becomes blurry. As I noted earlier, many people strive for perfection and others simply demand it. In the demanding of perfection, they often go too far. The ACLU is demanding the perfection of a state completely devoid of religious symbols in public spaces in order to “clear up” this blurry line.

There is obviously a segment of society that supports this idea. However, I believe that there are many like me who, being a practicing Christian, would not find it reprehensible if I went to a public space and saw a memorial for Muslim soldiers who died in the defense of this country that had a symbol of Islam along with their names. Neither would I object to a memorial to the Muslims killed on September 11, 2001 in the World Trade Center. I would object if this memorial included the names of the murderers, but not because they were Muslims or there was an Islamic symbol attached to it, but because I object to memorializing murderers of the citizens of this country.

To wit I believe that the ACLU has lost this understanding of what “good society” and its inherent common sense accepts as freedom of expression.

I object to the ACLU’s attempts also on the grounds that they are using this idea to enforce an agenda, not because it is really a problem of the state violating the first amendment, which I remind people says “freedom OF religion” and not “from” religion. The agenda that the ACLU is pursuing is the adaptation of a total secular state that, by its very nature attempts to homogenize the people of the state and make them one blurry mess of people, wiping out their individuality and all the things that make them “the people” in this democracy which includes their ancestry, their ideas and their religion (or lack thereof).

In this they have crossed the line, the limit of individual freedom, all in their supposed quest to establish this line more clearly.

This is the difficulty in attempting to establish this line. It is the reason that I believe that we should not sit idly by and let this continue to be pushed without some push back from average citizens, whatever their religion or none. Now they are working on the state, but it does not seem very histrionic to note that they may begin defining an individual’s freedom to be infringed by any religious symbol that is in sight, whether on a person, carried by a person or seen via a public road, even if it is on private property.

I say that people should push back to insure that this concept is not allowed to be taken to its natural conclusion and actually pass the limit of individual’s freedom and impose total secularism on society, homogenizing it and wiping out real individuality and the free expression thereof.

As I pointed out in my post regarding the second amendment and the ACLU’s attempts to change that concept, a quote by Benjamin Franklin:

All human situations have their inconveniences. We feel those of the present but neither see nor feel those of the future; and hence we often make troublesome changes without amendment, and frequently for the worse.


I believe sincerely that the attempts by the ACLU to change the very concept of religion in our society and what it means to have “freedom of religion” has a very real possibility of becoming “troublesome changes without amendment, and frequently for the worse”.

In quoting some additional thoughts from Chief Justice Neilson of the Brooklyn City Court, circa 1875 regarding “common law”:

We stand by the river and admire the great body of water flowing so sweetly on; could you trace it back to its source, you might find a mere rivulet, but meandering on, joined by other streams and by secret springs, and fed by the rains and dews of heaven, it gathers volume and force, makes its way through the gorges of the mountains, plows, widens and deepens its channel through the provinces, and attains its present majesty.


The “main stream” of society does not lack religion. Neither does it misunderstand the fundamental idea behind the first amendment protecting freedom of religion and freedom of expression. It understands that this is meant as inclusion of all religions and expression not the exclusion and that physical representation of faith, whether public or private, do not exclude, but simply represents the existence.

I may be speaking too broadly as a representative of the average American. Maybe this is only my understanding and another would object. Yet, I feel it is important to say something on the matter lest I become one of the lazy, accepting the benefits of freedom and democracy without shouldering my responsibility to guide it and insure the continuation of “good society” and the perpetuation of this democracy and the ideas that were embodied in the Constitution and the Amendments.

Individual Responsibility in Democracy

Many have written and spoke on this subject. Still, many either find it too dry a subject or do not comprehend how this responsibility impacts their daily lives. They are content to reap the benefits of freedom and democracy, content to allow others to make decisions and guide this great laden ship on a safe course, without even putting forth the simplest effort, to vote, in order to insure its safe traversing of storm tossed seas or passing through the lethargy of the doldrums.

Some say it is because they do not believe that they are being truly represented, so why bother? Others because they believe that their choices little matter and things will go on, will you nil you, and they can continue to enjoy this freedom with little effort on their part. It is interesting that, in my private life, those who feel free to complain the most about the course of this democracy are often the ones who make little or no effort to participate in it.

Of course, many in our current society have not really had to struggle to keep their freedom or protect it in the grand way of our ancestors or even our grandparents who, not so long ago, were confronted with the very real concept that their freedom could be taken away by a dictator set on controlling their world. It is commonly understood that when something is free, people do not value it so much as the thing that they had to struggle to achieve.

Just as amazing is their inability to view the world without blinders or rosy shades and understand that there, just beyond an ocean that is not really so far away, tyranny resides and it would gladly take away the freedom they so loosely value. They cannot see “but for the Grace of God go I”. They cannot see that here, even in this idealistic idyll that we occupy, the threat of tyranny is never far away when we refuse to participate, to speak out, to vote, to shoulder our responsibilities.

I personally experienced an epiphany in the last four years that woke me from my lethargic participation. It was not a gentle wakening, nor a single event that brought on this epiphany. From the moment that the towers fell, to the fall of a tyrant’s statue, to the orange revolution, to purple fingers waving triumphantly, to the cedar revolution and beyond, I have come to understand my role in this great experiment called democracy and my role as the protector of my own freedom and all those that come after and all those that yet live in the shadow of tyranny.

I had been taught these concepts as a child, going to school and reading the thoughts of all the great thinkers of freedom, but I could not understand it. It was only history and I was living today. It was not free people that taught me the meaning of freedom. It took the words of men and women in far away places with names I could barely pronounce, the words of people who were recently released from their own tyranny, to make me understand what freedom meant and what my responsibilities were in the perpetuation of freedom.

Every day, as they learn and I read their words, so have I, feeling that I am again back in school, learning the lessons I should have learned so long ago.

A newly free Iraqi wrote, “I was not living until April 9th [2003], now I am, so let me speak” [Free Iraqi

Another wrote, “I was born on April 9th”

I’ve mentioned these words before in other essays that I’ve written on the subject of freedom. These words will stay with me forever because it was not simply the birth of a new, free nation and free people it was the beginning of my own birth into the true ideas of freedom and democracy.

Ali, of Free Iraqi wrote what should be a reminder to free people everywhere:

In the same sense, many Iraqis looked for the January elections to bring the long awaited Iraqi savior even if it meant many saviors not just one. They saw the advantage of multiple leaders/democacry and welcomed it but did not expect that these leaders would have so many differences and find a huge difficulty in agreeing on a common major goal.

Thus, Iraqis are brought back again to the same point where they have to ask questions and keep an eye on events. And with time and through these changes, it has become obvious to an increasing number of Iraqis that they can never go back to that idle state w[h]ere they left everything to whoever [was] in charge and instead they're gradually seeing how important their role in making their lives better, and I have no doubt that soon most Iraqis will find that not only [do] they have a role they should play but that this role is in fact the main one.


Not only do we have a role to play, but this role is in fact the main one.

Gratitude

In our complacency, we have oft forgotten the price paid for freedom. Not everyone, but even sometimes those that say they are grateful or understand the price, do not really have the concept. It’s just so many words and there are so many people who would need to be thanked. Those that should have our thanks, from the moment of inception to the his very hour, might say that our continued life of freedom is gratitude enough.

But, it is in the gratitude that we give when it was not we who paid the price of freedom directly, that we show the value of this freedom. Again, I am reminded by the words of others, how much I should value it above all other things:

Two years now and "they" still wonder
And "they" still ask Was it worth it?
Was it right?
Two years and it seems to me Like it was yesterday
Two years and "they" keep trying
To silence the voice inside us
Yet it only grows louder (…)

Two years since I started dreaming
Dreams that have a chance
And are becoming true
Two years since I regained my heart
And then I found her...
And she found me...
And the world looked beautiful!
And "they" think they can separate us?!
Think again, or keep wishing.

"They" say we are being slaughtered
"They" say we are being abused
Am I blind or are "they" the ones who are sightless?!
As why can't I see what "they" see?
And the best "they" can offer of their view is Maybe I'm a CIA?
Or maybe the other "they", that of their accusations is paying me?(…)

I see with my own eyes this other "they"
And I call them simply, Americans.
What are they paying me?
Oh, you couldn't afford that!
Saddam couldn't afford it.
Sadr cannot afford it.
"They" think any of these can?
Could their "they" even try!?

Two years and some are still
Trapped in the past
And some cannot withstand the moment
And want to arrive without struggle to a better future
While others just enjoy what is already better now
And work to meet the future, bettered with them.
Two years and they ask Should I be grateful?
Am I?
Do I even need to answer that!?
YES, and to the last breath!
[A Free Iraqi


Or, this letter that was written in Arabic and translated to English by Alaa the Messopotamian:

(…)What prompted me to write about this subject today is watching the film that was shown on the “Iraqiya” on the anniversary of the fall of Saddam, that showed the cutting of tongues and heads, the breaking of arms and other fearful tortures in the prisons of Saddam the “Haddam” [the wrecker-translator]. These things would have continued to our present day had the Americans not intervened to depose this savage animal and his criminal Baathist regime.

I asked myself there and then: How can I thank the American liberators who have avenged us and avenged all the victims of Saddam’s regime? How can I avoid being ungrateful like Muqtada and his followers, who are enjoying now the freedom that America brought while at the same time shouting insults at this same America? I could find nothing in my possession to thank these liberating soldiers except these words:

Thank you, soldiers of the United States of America and soldiers of her allies. Thank you our true friends. Thanks to all your sacrifices that delivered us from the darkness of Saddam to the light of freedom, elections and democracy.

We shall never ever, forget what you have given us, liberators “


And, a letter from the new President of Iraq to the British people:

(…) Britain should be proud that the liberation of Iraq has in our eyes been one of your finest hours.

History will judge Prime Minister Blair as a champion against tyranny. Of that I have no doubt.

We are not reticent about expressing our great thanks to the British people and paying homage to tragic British losses.

Every Iraqi family, in fact, has lost a loved one because of Saddam. Every Iraqi understands the pain of conflict, the grief that accompanies war.

We honour those who sacrificed their lives for our liberation. We are determined out of respect to create a tolerant and democratic Iraq, an Iraq for all the Iraqi people.

It will take time and much patience, but I can assure you it will be worth while, not only for Iraq, but for the whole of the Middle East.

yours sincerely
President Talabani



I learned the true meaning of gratitude and what our benefactors throughout history might have said on receiving such gracious praise.

The greatest repayment could only be that our Iraqi brothers and sisters grab on to this freedom, protect it and live by it as best they can.

That is, in the end, gratitude enough.

I loved you so I drew these tides of men into my hands and wrote my will across the sky in stars to earn you Freedom [T.E. Lawrence]


The Last Frontier of Free Speech

Here I am, writing in the last frontier of free speech. Hoping that my words are read by some and understood by at least a few. Knowing that, thousands of miles away, in places yet to be free, or in a distant future when some might wonder what it all meant, someone might read these words and understand something about freedom and democracy.

I have hardly the eloquence of Locke or Payne or Jefferson, but here, in this last frontier, I am able to participate in this grand experiment called democracy in their image and footsteps, from a common citizen to a fierce advocate for freedom, from a person who had no voice, to a person that shouts now to the world:

Freedom!

I thank you who read these words for giving me a moment of your time.

I thank those who created this tool, this last frontier of free speech, for giving me the vehicle to express my ideas.

I thank those who came before me and said all that I could ever say, showing me the way.

I thank those who stood on the watchtowers, the ones that paid with their lives, with their blood and the ones that came home.

I thank those who serve as elected representatives for giving time from their life and shoulder such great responsibilities.

I thank those who stand up and speak for whatever they believe for participating in this experiment called democracy.

I thank those who vote in every election for keeping the dream alive.

Thank you for this perfect, imperfect freedom.

19 comments:

MichaelH121 said...

Hello Again been away awhile.

You should write professionally Kat.

"Rebellion to Tyranny is Obedience to GOD" - The Words inscribed on Thomas Jefferson's Personal Seal.

You know the guy the Atheists and the ACLU says didn't believe in GOD.

As always they are never right.

But you are most often. :o)

Tom said...

Well written. My thoughts exactly.

Groups like the ACLU have gone to the point of mocking our first amendment freedoms. As you say, the idea "at a religious symbol in a public space actually is a tool of the state enforcing a specific religion on people is an outrageous idea."

I remember watching a History or Discovery show once that showed FDR and Churchhill on a battleship leading sailors in singing "Onward Christian Soldiers". Can you imagine if such a thing were to occur today!?!?! The entire left would grasp their chests collectively and fall dead. Not a bad idea, come to think of it....

But if at one time we erred in the opposite direction, today we err in the other.

So what to do? The problem, as you know, is in the judiciary. Judges have assumed powers that they were not granted, and few dare to oppose them. Today we've reached a situation where even crititicism of court decisions is met with cries of outrage by the left.

The left adopts the Socratic/Platonic idea of the "Philospher-King" as embodied in the modern judge. It is rule by our betters, and we are told that we need to be subservient to them.

Well I've had about enough. As William F Buckley Jr once said, I'd rather be ruled by the first two hundred people in the phone book than by the faculties of Harvard and Yale combined. Groups like the ACLU have imposed their agenda on us for far too long.

John said...

EXCELLENT, EXCELLENT, EXCELLENT POST! A long read, but well worth it! Thank you for helping in the true fight for freedom.

I've got a post or two up at stop the aclu blog that I would love to hear your opinion on.

http://www.stoptheaclu.blogspot.com

Barb said...

Kat - You are amazing! I will be back to read this again when I have the time to digest. Bravo, my friend!

Cynica said...

Sounds like the ACLU should be in France where they would have more company.

I especially loved the part about the religious symbols and memorials.

Gadfly said...

Here here! One of the things I've been trying to tell the ideologues: One person's Utopia is another person's HELL. Compromise IS freedom. It is the essential nature of humanity that perfection for all can never be obtained -- it does not exist.

Say, Kat ...

I wanted to ask if it would be OK if I linked you in my blogroll. My rants and imagery can be ... on the harsh side, so I wanted to ask permission.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Kat, for a lovely essay. I don't think we'd have our current problems with judicial appointments if the ACLU had exercised just a little common sense and discretion, but they did not.

Valerie

Kender said...

From the heart of a very humble Kender, I thank you.....this is amazing.

Kat said...

Michael...so glad you've come by again. I am oft amazed by people insisting that Jefferson was athiest. He was more like a free thinker on religion. I kept trying find his other quote (or maybe it was washington) that basically said men without morals cannot govern morally. This quote was directly during a discussion of the potential problems of men with certain religious beliefs being in government. Jefferson supported that men should believe in some faith in order to give them the basis to govern "morally". without it, how would they know?

Tom...I've read some of the ACLUs positions. Some I can understand and others seem to be driven as much by their own beliefs as any that they may oppose. I agree that what they seek to do is remove the basis for the moral guide and replace it with men doing what they think is best only for whatever it will gain.

On my piece on the second amendment, I think I find it amazing that they would claim to be such a supporter of all the rights (as they believe they should be supported) as something that should be widened to cover many more aspects than it was meant to cover, yet, on that one topic, they believe it should be restricted.

Before that, I might have given them a pass, but it seems to me that they are not really the "civil liberties" union so much as a group with a social agenda that uses it for cover.

From that point on, I find what they do to be suspect and in need of careful review. No one should ever support a group just because they THINK it has a good idea without knowing what it's all about.

Jay...sorry, I'll get by your site soon to leave a message. A little busy with work and such. I did take a few moments to read and I find all of your research very interesting. Some things that I did not even know.

Gadfly...feel free to link. I have to work on my links this weekend too. I'll try to get everyone up and running. Need to get the castel denizens up under the Krak de Arrggh! LOL

mavenette, they are a socialist group. That is their political and social agenda. There is no doubt about it and they would be very at home in France.

I don't always believe that these groups should disappear mind you. I just think that we should not be complacent when they push on things that really goes beyond the bounds. They have in the past pushed the social boundaries and it was good. It's just that you can't expect them to be always good or correct about what's good for society. So, we should push back.

Valerie...I believe it is well known that many lawyers who thenn become judges belong to the ACLU. It's a little club and it's been used quite well to beat the system into a shape they believe it should be.

I was watching a commercial Wednesday evening and it was sponsored by some democrat group. Showed a bunch of elephants running wild down the streets (ie, republicans) talking about trying to put "activist judges" in.

I thought that was so damned funny. Ironic even. The end of the commercial was even more funny. It said something like "keep our courts independent". LOL That was truly Ironic.

Only a 12 year old or one of the lazy folks I mention in "responsibility" who doesn't understand how or why judges are appointed by the president, whomever that is, whatever his persuasion. I believe the courts have been packed with people who are a little off to the left of the general population.

I remember when Bush appointed the head of the FDA and an email circulated (and is still circulating) concerning his personal practice not to prescribe birth control pills. The feminist movement was quite upset and thought that he would immediately begin working to ban birth control in the FDA. Interesting, since he's been in office, that two or three new forms of birth control have been made available, like the patch.

But, my friends were up in arms and sent me a petition which I refused to sign until I read everything about the man and his appointment. What was more interesting is that the man had been in office two years and I was still receiving the email. Two years without it affecting anything concerning women's rights to control their reproduction.

That's how I see this situation with the judges that are being held up in committee. Most of them have been on the bench for many years and have certainly been able to practice law without subjugating the constitution to some greater agenda.

Ideologically, they may not be as lenient on some matters or as intent on assigning the worst case agenda to police or state actions. This is most likely what worries the democrats.

It should be a worry that we do not allow judges to act on behalf of the state as an oppressor either, but there is certainly a balance that has been obtained over the years and I don't see these judges threatening it.

What I see is the hold up of the nominees being the post election fit throwing of the democrat party. They lost the last election so now all they have to stand on is their "principles" which proved to be rather shaky with the general populace.

They are also using scare tactics that anyone with faith is automatically bent on bending the constitution to support their ideas and would institute some "theocracy". Scare words because we all know that the average American knows who the nastiest theocracy in the world is: Iran. Nice word games they are using.

I realized it and decided that it is going to backfire on the democrats. eventually, people are going to get sick of them talking about faith as if it was some subversive activity that will destroy America. it will backfire, because we are in a time when the pendulum of American social progress is moving back towards a less, shall we say, libertine, idea of what society should be like.

In times of stress like this GWOT, people tend to move back to conservative ideas and faith because it gives them comfort.

I believe that the democrats are overplaying their hands again.

Kat said...

Kender, you must have been typing while I was commenting. So glad you enjoyed. Our discussion Tuesday night inspired me.

I thank you

Aakash said...

The thing is, most people in our country do not recognize that we are not free. It is said, by liberal internationalists, and by those Republicans and 'conservatives' who unfortunately have chosen to seize upon this left-wing vision, that freedom for ourselves necessitates using aggressive government intervention and massive statist means to "spread freedom" to others - meaning those who are in other nations.

But before we should consider using the power of the welfare-warfare state to expand into other people's lives (while taking fortunes of federal taxpayer dollars with it and causing further harm to our system of constitutional republicanism) we need to realize that it has already expanded, far too greatly, into our lives.

Freedom for ourselves does not necessitate further expansion of the Leviathan into anyone's lives; it necessitates a massive rollback of this juggernaut.

The fact is, we can talk all we want about "freedom" for others, but in reality, we are not free.

And we have ourselves to blame.

Kat said...

Aakash,

I would disagree with you whole heartedly.

First, you are more free than you could ever be anywhwere else on this planet. The next most free you could be is living in the jungles of south America or Africa where little if no political ideology existed. Yet, you would still not be free in the terms you would want because your freedom would be dictated by the necessity to survive and interact with others of both the human and animal kingdom.

Further, I would disagree strongly that it is not our job, not our duty as humans to insure that other humans are free as well. If everyone took your stance, we'd still have institutional slavery here.

You'd be one of the people in the north telling us we couldn't tell the south that slavery was against the laws of nature.

Also, you are not a very good student of history if you have not learned that free nations for more than 60 years have continuously pushed for the freedom of others in order to insure our own because tyrants of other nations are hardly ever satisfied with the tyranny they can impose locally, but most often seek to expand it.

The question then is, which is more preferable? the spread of tyranny or the spread of freedom even if you believe this freedom to be imperfect (as I have noted that it is because we all have free will and our own ideas and they don't always jive with another).

But that is the deal.

Further, I know you are eluding to the idea that this is a fascist/socialist idea of perpetual war.

I'd tell you that you are wrong, because, if it were, we would not have stopped at the borders of Iraq, but would have rolled on to other nations in the region, completely forgoing the act of diplomacy.

But, it is important to have that fear and guard against it, lest we do go to that extent.

But, the spread of freedom through war is not unprecedented. STill, even more, the spread of freedom today is not just through war as Ukraine, Lebanon and Kyrgzstan prove. Sometimes, a war that ends with freedom of a people is just the tipping point.

I am continuously amazed that people would oppose the spread of freedom, even to other countries on the alleged grounds we have no "right".

The founders did not write that little sentence "unalienable right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" for themselves alone. It was a declaration of mankind that there is something greater than simple existence under tyranny.

Kat said...

By your links, are you a strict constitutionalist or a Buchanan Republican?

I would agree there are many things that we have created that smack of socialism. I've mentioned in talks with friends. This is what happens when an open society is inundated with many ideas.

The poem by the way was great, but I didn't agree with the one line regarding "sending your sons to fight in other people's wars".

I disagree because, once we send our sons and daughters, they are "our wars" and I don't deny them, not one.

Please note my comment above. Whenn communism was spreading and rolling over free nations, we either stand by until they come to our shores or go out to meet them.

I prefer going out to meet them before they knock on the cabin door and demand my musket, informing me of my new government.

MichaelH121 said...

Aakash,

As a Vet and a follower of History and Military History. The US has fought a lot of other people's wars.

WWI, WWII, Korea, Viet Nam, The Gulf War.

We have allies and stand with them. If not we are alone, not that we cannot survive, but America does not abandon its allies because things get hot.

Allies abondon the US, France is an example. If anyone tells you that we need to make friends with France remember this:

In WWII the last Iron Cross awarded by Germany was for the defense of Berlin to an SS Soldier, he was a French Citizen fighting for the Nazi's.

The French did not just get out of the way so the Nazi's could round up the Jews, they actively sought out and rounded up Jews for Germany.

They turned in their own countrymen who were in the French Resistance.

France is an ally to France, everyone else is just in the way.

ÐÇRøçk§ said...

Kat,

What an excellent article! I read you blog all the time, and it continues to be some of the best written commentary on freedom, and what it means, that I have run across anywhere on the Net. Keep up the awesome work!

I will never forget, as a child, standing on our side of the Berlin wall before it fell. It has left an everlasting impression on me. This post is another in a long line of great posts you have done, and once again, I feel the need to send a link to it out to all my "liberal" friends.

I keep remembering one of my Favorite quotes whenever my liberal friends tell me how we have stepped into an endless quagmire in the Middle East:

“The test of character is not ‘hanging in’ when you expect light at the end of the tunnel, but performance of duty and persistence of example when you know no light is coming.” – Admiral James B Stockdale

The US is doing what is right in the Middle East, not because it is easy, or for gains, but because it is the right thing to do, and the cost of not doing it is higher than any price we will have to pay, for going forward with hope and determination will end with freedom for all, and that is a goal that everyone should be aiming for, regardless of the cost.

Whistlin Bob said...

Kat,

That's a very interesting post, even when I disagree with you I'm impressed by the ambition of your writing; it's clear from the comments posted that people come here and take inspiration from you- that must be very rewarding.

I think you are right when you say that perfection is unachievable but worth trying for. Isn't it the thought that things could be just that increment better that motivates many of us in our civic duties? Thing is- I think that's what motivates bodies like ACLU just as much as it motivates you. It's just that they have a different view of how to make the world a better place. In the example of the war memorial it sounds pretty mean spirited; a preoccupation with their own dogma at the expense of the memory of sacrifice. On the other hand, the 10 commandments are explicitly Christian and have no place in a secular court of law which must be blind to the creed of those within it, no matter how much its principles may be based in Christian values and tradition. That is essential to the functioning of a pluralistic society.

The other thing I wanted to question was your comments about The Last Frontier of Free Speech- this seems quite bizarre to me. I'm sure you must be aware of this, but many countries enjoy freedom of speech. Whatsmore your "idyll" has not always tolerated political disagreement (McCarthy, anyone?) from within and historically has a very mixed record at promoting it without. It is a matter of record that throughout the cold war the US promoted and supported tyrants wherever it was in their interests to do so; and to hell with the natives. You should not, therefore, be surprised when others do not trust the altruism of your foreign interventions. I'm not anti-American, I know it has many virtues and I know there's not a country on earth that doesn't have skeletons in tis cupboards. I just don't think it's a good idea to wear rose tinted glasses; you cannot, after all, solve problems that you cannot see.

Remember striving for perfection?

Brian H said...

Austin Bay has a very interesting discussion of the meaning of the term in Arabic. Cultural assumptions are huge!

MichaelH121 said...

Hey BOB,

All I heard was how in the Gulf War our weapons were going to be used against us.

Not one M-16 or M1A1 Abrahms tank was used or owned by Saddam. He bought surplus Chineses and Russian weapons we only supported his war against Iran. The bigger of the enemies.

And in the Assault on Mosul we found weaponized Rison vials and we have has IED's that were filled with Rison. In both cases the media and the Dems said it was just some old stuff, but occording to the UN he had none.

All who have enemies support the lesser of the 2. It is people like you who say TET was a victory for the VC and NVA and yet they lost 60% and could not mount any real assualt. The media threw around the term "Decimated" when talking about American casualties, sounds bad but mean 10%.

That is 10% total wounded and killed. Just like Okinawa, 12,600 wounded and killed Marines, 120,000+ dead Japanese. Every single engagement since WWII the US has had 10% vs the enemy. 400 caualties at Midway 4,000 Dead Japs. etc... etc...

McCarthy was looking for commies. And we interred Japanese not because of racism but because we had broken the Jap code and we decided to round them all up to keep Japan from knowing we had taken their spies into custody. It was done the wrong way FDR should have used some of the 16 million men under arms to guard their homes and properties until the was was won.

I have met a lot of people like you. You choose to listen only to the history and the reality to which you believe in. I look at even the things where I do not like the outcome.

FDR left MacArthur hanging because he did not like Mac's conservative Republican politics. FDR kept telling Mac to hold that reinfrocements were on the way. He lied.

FDR left Marines on Wake Island. Reinforcements were 100 miles away and steaming to them. They were recalled.

Mistakes are made for the wrong reasons some times. But unlike Japan, we tell what happened. In Japan they hide the acts of Vivsectionary they perfomed on Chinese in Manchuria. Look it up.

We tell of our loses and wins.

In Viet Nam American forces NEVER lost a battle. Not one, but the politicians lost the war. And revisionists somehow have tried to blame Viet Nam on Nixon. It war not his war.

Perfection is like Utopia, they are both merely words in the dictionary. All life is flawed, as are we.

Kat said...

Bob...worry I need to explain this part but "the last frontier of free speech" was referring to the internet.

I would also say that the idea of 10 commandments is not essentially Christian but has a tradition in Judaic and Islamic religions as well. There are questions about the exact interpretation and translation to english, but that isn't the point.

Like the war memorial, except for one instence recently, the 10 commandments issue is largely about things that have been there for years if not decades and some for a century. It is the basis from which we derived our laws. Tryng to remove it is in fact, to me, trying to remove it from history, as if it did not exist nor have influence nor have some importance today.

And, I never said to do away with the ACLU. I know some would like them to disappear. I don't agree whole heartedly with that. What I said was that we need to push back when their ideas go beyond the common sense.

I think that attempting to disown our Christian history in order to allegedly improve on a pluralistic society is like talking about the Pilgrims coming here to have freedom of religion and then not mentioning in history books that they were Christians.

Or talking about civil rights, but to cure the evils of racism not wipe out any sign that slavery existed.

I think they can go to far and they have.

And, as I say at the end, this is perfect imperfection because it is a country that thrives on freedom and free people make the best decisions possible but aren't perfect. Neither is every moment of our history perfect in its address of freedom. That is why it is a continuous struggle.

It goes back to the development of common law concept which is that, in free societies like ours, the ideas are continuously rubbed against each other and the rough edges smoothed out until it becomes acceptable and implemented in society as a whole.

I never claim perfection. The idyll that we live in is not a fairy tale where everyone lives happily ever after. It's the ideal idyll because we can make of it as we wish, as a body of people who can choose to make it in our image as a whole, not simply on the words or ideas of one man ruling.

That's the beauty.