The Smallest Minority on earth is the individual. Those who deny individual rights cannot claim to be defenders of minorities. - Ayn Rand
It's also an important circuit breaker which, when properly used, can prevent an enemy from exploiting features of good people and virtuous society for the purpose of undermining them, as is specifically prescribed by the Alinsky Rule 4 maneuver.
The evaluation of such an act is complex, and there are several key factors. One of these is whether the transgression can be reasonably said to serve the higher purposes from which the law's manifestation emanates.
I particularly liked, in the Jefferson quote, the acid piquancy of the phrase, "sacrificing the ends to the means," which neatly turns the more-common one on its head, yet still offers the same vein of wisdom to be mined.
Besides, the quotes was only trotted out to defend withdrawing only one silly part of the silly Bill of Rights from some people who are uniformly evil by dint of their religion. This country couldn't possibly be expected to stop malefactors in the usual ways and we all know Muslims are totally different to Ted Kozinski and Timothy McVeigh.
I'm sure the same logic would never, *ever* be applied to the *Second* Amendment. Nor would anyone ever *dream* of using similar arguments to claim that atheists and agnostics can't be real U.S. citizens. (Except that a sitting President already has).
See, it's just like the USA PATRIOT Act, which will *never* be used against right-wingers. Not in a million, zillion years.
Enjoy your Empire, Mr. Alger; I mourn the Republic.
Roberta, I'm not disagreeing with you - unconstitutional actions are damned dangerous, especially in the precedents they set. The bar must be set very high, and no, I don't think that the threat of a death cult of neolithic goatherds in Semtex Underoos reaches anywhere near that threshold.
However, I do think Thomas Jefferson was right in this specific quotation. And I was right in The United Federation of Planets. And we forget it also at our peril.
Kevin, I don't care if you agree with me or not (possibly I have not been clear about this: people have to make their own decision and answer to their own conscience. It is not their job to win my approval, nor mine to win theirs), though I thank you for taking the time to clarify your stance.
As for Jefferson, the man was ethically slippery. Brilliant, had some great ideas, failed to apply many of them. The Louisiana Purchase was an expansion of Federal power. Good or bad? Too late, it's already been done.
If your assertions about what I've written were accurate, I might have cause to hang my head in shame. But you keep cursing me for words I have not said and will not apologize for not having said.
Before you go off on people who don't disagree with you, you might turn down the sensitivity on your hot buttons a little bit and -- you know -- actually READ what they've written.
I'm not going to smear this argument all over Kevin's comments, Mr. Alger.
I'll make this one respons and drop it. You have implied (on your own blog and elswhere) the the only fix to the Muslim Question is for the government of the United States to declare war on an entire religion. It is prohibited from so doing by the Constitution, a rather fragile protection these days.
You're not the only one to do so and you make a much gentler case for it than the other guy. Nice wrong is nevertheless wrong.
You have implied (on your own blog and elswhere) the the only fix to the Muslim Question is for the government of the United States to declare war on an entire religion. It is prohibited from so doing by the Constitution, a rather fragile protection these days.
The Constitution does not prohibit the American government from declaring war on certain groups. It simply states that "The Congress shall have Power To...declare war, grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal, and make Rules concerning Captures on Land and Water".
For someone who is such a vehement advocate of the Constitution, you seem to be a little fuzzy on the actual text.
The Constitution may not be a suicide pact but it is the people, not the state, who have the authority to change its terms. The (ethical) State must always follow its governing documents, even to the death. Unfortunately, it never turns out this way since we never seem to be able to avoid making the State the arbiter of its own limitations.
It is what it is, I suppose. This is why Jefferson's line about tyrants and patriots was so relevant; even many of the architects of our revolutions could not resist abandoning the strict rule of law.
The (ethical) State must always follow its governing documents, even to the death.
Which is why I'm glad that human beings are so seldom ethical. Read The United Federation of Planets.
A: You are wrong. I have never stated I thought the government should make war on Muslims. The only implication otherwise is in your own fevered imaginings. As Og challenged: cut and paste the actual text where I have written this. You can't, because it doesn't exist.
B: You are wrong. As others have noted here, the Constitution does not forbide the United States from making war on a particular group because of its belief systems. CF: the Cold War. For that matter, cf: the Civil War.
A minor point being made is that Islam is not in major characteristics a religion, but is an ideology for world domination which has taken on the false colors of a religion (and one with despicable values in its principle holy text to boot). This is not an arguable point. It is born out by history and the writings of its own adherents.
HOWEVER (and this is what you resolutely refuse to get)...
I am as horror-struck as you by the prospect of that perspective's being cast in iron in state-craft, simply because it can be turned on less noxious creeds with all too familiar ease. In asking "what are we to do" in the face of untold millions masquerading within this ideology, forming 5th columns on our shores, and simultaneously trying to foreclose state action, as Og put it earlier today, I am standing here shouting about this TRYING TO AVOID THAT BEHAVIOR.
I have also tried to avoid picking a fight with you, of using your bandwidth to extend an argument you profess to have no stomach for, and not widen the conflict, while simultaneously defending myself against your scurrilous and FALSE charges, only to be met with you behaving like a classic Internet troll.
I really expected better of you. More the fool me, I guess.
"You have implied ... the the only fix to the Muslim Question is for the government of the United States to declare war on an entire religion. It is prohibited from so doing by the Constitution ..."
Lessee now ...
The Constitution states, in Article 1, Section 8: "The Congress shall have Power To ... declare War ..."
So, Congress can declare war, and the consent of the President is not required. The Constitution does place any restriction upon whom Congress may declare war.
The First Amendment states, in part: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof ..."
Congress declaring war does not constitute making a law, much less a law respecting an establishment of religion. Thus the First Amendment does not prohibit Congress from declaring war on whomever it chooses.
So, what am I missing here? What statement in the Constitution prohibits Congress from declaring war on those who practice a particular religion?
It borders on the absurd to claim that declaring war on a religion - one that would presumably include US citizens who are adherents - does not constitute making a law prohibiting the free exercise of religion. What else could the consequence of such a declaration be? What would happen to those who remained faithful? Are you proposing slaughter or merely internment? Being US nationals, there's certainly nowhere to deport them to, and I see no other option.
The state is properly considered my servant; it exists at my pleasure to protect my rights (and those of 300M others). I realize the roles had reversed long before I was born, but I'm talking in the abstract here. It is the individual who has the right to exist, not the state. As such, the state has no right to extend its own power in order to respond to a threat against it. The consequences of the state's demise may be terrible, but so are the ones when the state extends its own power. At least the former has a chance of ending with a people who are still free.
It borders on the absurd to claim that declaring war on a religion - one that would presumably include US citizens who are adherents - does not constitute making a law prohibiting the free exercise of religion. What else could the consequence of such a declaration be?
US citizens like Major Hasan?
Seriously though, how about a declaration of war on all non-American Muslims? Such a thing would be constitutional, leaving aside practicality, morality, or strategy.
It is a problem when we extend the benefits of a nation to those who are trying their utmost to bring that nation down. Foreign enemies, who seek to destroy the Constitution, are now offered the protection of the Constitution. It is a suicidal attitude.
Imagine what America would become in the wake of a major terrorist attack. Imagine a nuclear device in a major city, a nerve agent at a football game, a plague released in airports, an EMP strike. Not only the loss of life, but the terrible vengeance we would exact, the further tightening of liberty. America survived 9/11. I fear that the American Republic would not survive an attack with deaths reaching into the hundreds of thousands or millions. I think that whatever country emerged from that would be a different place. The things that we'd do in immediate response would change us, and the actions we would take to ensure "Never Again" would change us.
The long fight against the tyrannical state defined the American century. At home and abroad, on every front we've tried to keep that monster at bay. We thought we won, but I think that when you gaze at the State, it also gazes into you. We had to, it seemed at the time, adopt so many of the Nazi/Soviet tactics to fight them. Propaganda (propaganda is not synonymous with lies) to keep the people aroused, federal education to ensure a steady supply of trained technicians and soldiers, massive bureaucracies to mobilize industry.
It reminds me, to an alarming degree, of the last century of the Roman Republic. Triumphant in the Punic Wars, the Carthaginian Empire defeated, the Roman soldiers went back to their farms, supposedly. That Empire didn't go away, it just changed hands. It would be a hundred years before the formal name change, but the Roman Republic could not have defeated Carthage, it had to become the Roman Empire to do it. A nation of militia cannot be conquered, but it cannot conquer others. You need professional soldiers for that.
That's the insidious thing, it seems to be that you cannot fight evil without adopting some of their methods. The Nazis bombed London, so we bombed Berlin. We had to, we couldn't not, but we did stoop to their level when we did. Why did we stoop? Why do we stoop now?
Simple: Because there are always worse things. Those who will not do bad things to prevent worse things are not acting in a moral or rational manner. It is not a choice (and to not choose is still to make a choice) between a clean war and a dirty war. War is always about picking the lesser of two evils.
"US citizens like Major Hasan?"
Hasan is not exemplary of US Muslims, but the point still stands. He will have a fair trial and he will be found guilty - not of calling his god Allah but of murder.
"Seriously though, how about a declaration of war on all non-American Muslims? Such a thing would be constitutional, leaving aside practicality, morality, or strategy."
This is probably correct, although I would think that our allies would object to our declaring war on many of their citizens.
"Are you proposing slaughter or merely internment?"
I am not proposing anything.
"It borders on the absurd to claim that declaring war on a religion ..."
My words were:
"What statement in the Constitution prohibits Congress from declaring war on those who practice a particular religion?"
In my opinion, declaring war on religion is as silly a concept as declaring war on terrorism or on drugs. One wages war against people and against governments.
"... does not constitute making a law prohibiting the free exercise of religion."
It would indeed constitute an attempt, to the extent such a war is actually waged, to prohibit the free exercise of a particular religion. But, is a declaration of war a law?
Lessee again ...
The Constitution further states, in Article 1, Section 8:
"Every Bill which shall have passed the House of Representatives and the Senate, shall, before it become a Law, be presented to the President of the United States: If he approve he shall sign it, but if not he shall return it, with his Objections to that House in which it shall have originated, who shall enter the Objections at large on their Journal, and proceed to reconsider it. If after such Reconsideration two thirds of that House shall agree to pass the Bill, it shall be sent, together with the Objections, to the other House, by which it shall likewise be reconsidered, and if approved by two thirds of that House, it shall become a Law."
"Every Order, Resolution, or Vote to which the Concurrence of the Senate and House of Representatives may be necessary (except on a question of Adjournment) shall be presented to the President of the United States; and before the Same shall take Effect, shall be approved by him, or being disapproved by him, shall be repassed by two thirds of the Senate and House of Representatives, according to the Rules and Limitations prescribed in the Case of a Bill."
So, a Declaration of War begins as a Bill submitted to Congress by a member thereof. Passage requires the concurrence of the Senate and the House, and thus requires submission to the President for his approval. If he does not approve it, Congress can override his disapproval by a vote of two thirds majority in each House. Thus, A Declaration of War by Congress requires either approval by the President or an override of his veto by both Houses of Congress. If either happens, the Declaration of War becomes law, according to the Constitution.
Conclusion: A Declaration of War against those who practice a particular religion would indeed be a law passed by Congress that would, to the extent it was prosecuted, interfere with the free exercise of a particular religion. It would certainly be passed with that intent. The First Amendment prohibits such a law.
I stand corrected.
I wish I could say I researched it that well, DJ. Nicely done. I didn't mean to imply a desire on your part to prosecute such a war, sorry if that's how it seemed.
Next question: could the president do it using the War Powers Act (leaving aside for the moment the Constitutional questions with that piece of work)?
I stand corrected.
Sometimes (ok, probably more than sometimes) I really love you guys.
It's hardcore to be able to say that one was wrong. I approve heartily, for whatever that may be worth. (Ok, not much. That and $20 will get you a cup of coffee at Starbucks. :) )
"Next question: could the president do it using the War Powers Act (leaving aside for the moment the Constitutional questions with that piece of work)?"
The War Powers Act is a law enacted by Congress via an override of Presidential veto. The lede is:
"The War Powers Resolution of 1973 ... was a United States Congress joint resolution providing that the President can send U.S. armed forces into action abroad only by authorization of Congress or if the United States is already under attack or serious threat. The War Powers Resolution requires that the president notify Congress within 48 hours of committing armed forces to military action and forbids armed forces from remaining for more than 60 days, with a further 30 day withdrawal period, without an authorization of the use of military force or a declaration of war."
It seems to me that "an authorization [by Congress] of the use of military force" would require either approval by the President or override of his veto (which would be unlikely under those circumstances). Such an authorization would become law and so would suffer the same restrictions under the First Amendment as would a declaration of war. If the authorization were for the purpose of enabling military action against those who practice a particular religion, that would be a violation of the First Amendment.
Look at U.S. Code, Title 50, § 1547(d):
"Nothing in this chapter
"(1) is intended to alter the constitutional authority of the Congress or of the President, or the provisions of existing treaties; or
"(2) shall be construed as granting any authority to the President with respect to the introduction of United States Armed Forces into hostilities or into situations wherein involvement in hostilities is clearly indicated by the circumstances which authority he would not have had in the absence of this chapter."
So, the War Powers Act lets the President get started quickly, but he can't continue without permission from Congress. Said permission requires enacting a law, but said law is limited by the First Amendment, as the War Powers Act doesn't change any such limitations.
Seems pretty clear, doesn't it?
Not to put gasoline on the fire, but I would like to remind everyone what the US did to the Japanese during WWII: unconstitutional internment of Japanese citizens and resident aliens, confiscation of their property without compensation, total war against civilian populations - war that General Curtis LeMay stated would have gotten him convicted of war crimes had the US lost - the brutality our soldiers carried out against Japanese soldiers (I'm not slamming them for it, just pointing out the facts), etc.
We as a nation survived that.
Eric S. Raymond pointed out once that the reason he supports the current wars is because if killing 50,000 jihadis (and other Muslims) now can prevent a city-killing attack that would cause America to become what we can become, it's worth it.
Civilization is a very thin skin. If the population of the US decides on total war against followers of Mohammed, it won't be like it hasn't happened before.
And if that happens, I - like Eric Raymond - won't like what we will have become.
It does, DJ. Thanks.
Excellent point. Even IF the idea of making war on Muslims without regard to their actions for or against the United States were not repugnant and/or illegal, what does it do to the thin veneer of civilization to make that war? What kind of stain do you put on the souls of those who pay the butcher's bills? I suspect there are too many willing to give the order.
And this is the point I've been trying to make all along...
What other course of actions do we have> Please God, somebody figure it out before the choice is taken out of our hands by the press of events.
Because, you know, the enemy wants us to take those horrible actions very badly, and will continue to attempt to goad us in that direction until we make them stop.
Uh guys, your own government is a much greater threat to your life, liberty and pursuit of happiness than The Muslims (cue scary music). Let's not advocate another Eternal War* scenario so that the former can continue to crush its citizens while ineffectively (but expensively) fighting the latter.
* - the only thing more unwinnable than a war against terror, is a war against religion
So, Frank, you think that the trillions of dollars of destroyed wealth and the loss of life is negligible, do you?
You think we should surrender to a virulent enemy who has sworn our destruction or enslavement -- and is about || this far from having nukes (or a dirty bomb)?
I agree that our leadership might be exercising poor target definition. I disagree that the threat can be hand-waved out of existence.
I agree that the government CAN BE a greater threat to life, liberty, and property than all the guerrilla armies in the world -- when it is used for purposes for which it was not intended, such as mandating the purchase of "health insurance."
But making war on the enemies of America IS a purpose for which the government was intended. Perhaps requiring the government to focus on its core responsibilities a bit more might get it to back off a bit on the other stuff. Hmmm?
Our gubmint has nukes but doesn't use them on us. There are Muslims who don't have nukes, but would use them on us if they had them. Now, which is the greater threat? Begin the analysis by not confusing possibility with probability, and by not confusing today with tomorrow.
"You fool! You fell victim to one of the classic blunders - The most famous of which is 'Never get involved in a land war in Asia'..."
Vizzini, The Princess Bride
Intent should factor in, but also should ability, history, and actuality. Your government is actively destroying this country, and has been for decades. From the money they monopolize and print out of thin air, to the thousands upon thousands of pages of regulations dictating the terms of almost every economic transaction, to the inevitable plan to socialize medical care (and don't think climate change hysteria and demand for magical government control has gone away). Compared to Muslim-related acts of domestic terrorism, well there is no comparison. It's always awful when innocents die, but we've killed more innocents in Iraq and Afghanistan than their lunatics killed on 9/11. It's time to face the real enemy.
Such is true today, Frank, and I have not disputed it. I think ahead toward tomorrow, when fanatics may have greater means to affect us than they do now. A fanatic on another continent and without a nuke is a lesser threat than a bureaucrat in your face with a clipboard, but the fanatic might not always be without a nuke. I consider both a threat, and I do not ignore the one because the other is different.
GOF, a quote from The Princess Bride is never out of line! ;)
Hyper raging paranoid lockstep ditto-head echo chamber! ;)
(You know, I'm not sure we ever evaluated You-Know-Who as a possible Tourette's case.)