Who is Freedom's Enemy?
By Arnold Kling
This Symposium offered many choices (all the papers are available at the link).
Several years ago, I went to a Pop!Tech conference where each speaker was saying, in effect, “My research opportunity needs more attention.” Today’s symposium was more like “My enemy needs more attention.”First, Victor Davis Hanson proposed modern educators, for failing to teach history properly, leading to cultural amnesia. He didn’t quite say that the world is going to hell in a handbasket because Greek and Latin courses aren’t in demand so much these days, but that was sort of the drift.
During the Q&A, I was feeling Puckish, so I put it to him that I felt better about my daughters getting their news from Steven Colbert than from Walter Cronkite. Hanson differed, arguing that Cronkite at least believed in facts, while Colbert and his ilk promote a don’t-believe-anything nihilism.
Next, we had John Fonte and his discussant John O’Sullivan agreeing that the big threat is tranzies and multi-cultis. Tranzies are transnational progressives who want to replace U.S. laws and Constitutional provisions with international law. That is where Fonte includes me in the enemies list, because I once used the phrase “transnational libertarian.”
This raises the question of whether the problem with tranzies is their transnationalism or their progressivism. I think it’s the latter. Indeed, I don’t think their transnationalism is all that sincere. Instead, the whole “international law” thing is really just a convenient excuse for them to pick and choose which international laws to invoke to get their preferences imposed. As far as I’m concerned, you can be as transnational as you want, as long as you don’t use it as an excuse to say that you make the rules from now on.
Multi-cultis believe that we should preserve ethnic differences and maintain cultural neutrality, rather than assimilate immigrants into American traditions. Fonte showed results of a recent poll that suggested that 80 percent of Americans are assimilationists. I would say that the fact that our government institutions, including schools, are multi-culti in spite of the poll shows you how effective the progressives can be at getting around democracy.
Finally, Andy McCarthy told us that Jihadists were the enemy. Or people who want to go soft on Jihadists are the enemy. He contrasted the eagerness of New York City government to require clear nutritional labeling of restaurant food with the widespread attempt to cover up militant Islamic ideology. Transparency in the obesity war, opacity in the terror war.
I have come to worry more about progressives than about Jihadists. The progressives are determined to make the rest of us happy by making our choices for us. The notion that some of us might be happier if given the chance to make our own choices just does not compute with them.