by Jacob G. Hornberger
Ron Paul’s interview with Bob Schieffer on CBS’s “Face the Nation” last Sunday provides a fascinating look at the mainstream media mindset.
Referring to the 9/11 attacks, Schieffer remarked, “Basically what you’re saying is that it was America’s fault that 9/11 happened and it was our fault that it happened.”
As Paul made clear in his response, he has never blamed the 9/11 attacks on America or on the American people. The responsibility for the rage that ultimately manifested itself in the 9/11 attacks ultimately lies with the foreign policy of the U.S. government. As Paul indicated, the notion that foreigners hate our country for its “freedom and values, ” as compared to the U.S. government’s foreign policy, is ridiculous.
In framing his question, Schieffer makes a mistake that is common to statists, in that he conflates the U.S. government and America into one amorphous whole. In the mind of the statist, they are one and the same thing.
Thus, if a libertarian criticizes the government, in the mind of the statist he’s criticizing America. In the mind of the statist, a critic of U.S. foreign policy is un-American, unpatriotic, perhaps even a traitor. To the statist the government is everything because in his mind, it is the country.
For us libertarians, the government and the country are two separate and distinct entities.
That recognition enables us libertarians to view the government in a way that statists are unable to do, owing to their conflation of the two entities. Libertarians are able to see what the Framers saw: that the federal government is the biggest threat to the freedom and well-being of the American people.
That’s why the Constitution expressly limited the powers of the federal government. That’s why the Bill of Rights expressly prohibited the federal government from infringing on the fundamental rights of the people and placed obstructions in front of the federal government’s ability to punish people.
The statist is unable to see that, simply because for him the federal government and the country are one and the same thing. If asked to explain the concept of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, the statist is likely to respond, “They are the vehicle by which the government gives people their rights.”
A proper analysis of the 9/11 attacks requires an examination into the motive of the attackers. More often than not, the statists will exclaim, “Oh, you’re a justifier! You’re justifying and defending the terrorist attacks!”
But that’s ridiculous. In criminal cases, the prosecutor will oftentimes delve into the motive of the defendant in order to show the jury the entire context of the criminal act. That obviously doesn’t mean that the prosecutor is justifying or defending the act of the defendant. Or to take another example, when libertarians pointed out that Timothy McVeigh was motivated by the federal massacre at Waco to commit his terrorist attack in Oklahoma City, that was done not to “justify or defend” the attack but instead to show that the federal government should refrain from committing any more Waco-like massacres of people.
It’s no different with respect to the 9/11 attacks and, for that matter, the anti-American terrorist attacks that preceded the 9/11 attacks — the 1993 WTC attack (on the same target as the 9/11 attacks), the attack on the USS Cole, and the attacks on the U.S. Embassies in East Africa. By analyzing motive, we can determine whether the U.S. government should discontinue doing the things that are motivating people to retaliate with terrorism against the United States.
By being able to recognize the distinction between the federal government and the country, we libertarians are able to advocate ways to get our nation back on the right track by changing the direction of the government.
That’s one big reason that the future well-being of our country lies with libertarians rather than statists.
Jacob Hornberger is founder and president of the Future of Freedom Foundation.
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