gall, Dershowitz's October 13 op-ed piece in the New York
Times should really receive some sort of award: even its
title is the ultimate in disingenuousness: "Why
Fear a National ID Card?" Gee, Alan, I don't know: maybe
it's because the question "Can I see your papers, comrade?"
has a distinctively un-American ring to it.
claiming to be "skeptical" of any tradeoff between liberty
and security, Dershowitz proposes a national ID card implanted
with a chip recording the holder's fingerprints. He likens
this to existing systems where commuters with such a card
use it to pay bridge tolls. A scanner identifies the driver,
who is billed, and a record of his movements is kept on computer.
Dershowitz gets around the rather sinister implications of
such an Orwellian device instituted nationwide by saying it
should be "voluntary." Oh yeah, it's "voluntary" all right
except that non-volunteers will be subjected to airport
strip-searches, and other forms of "heightened" surveillance.
In practice, having such a card would be about as "voluntary"
as it was behind the Iron Curtain and just as useful to
the secret police.
I'm committing the great sin of "moral equivalence" in comparing
the good ol' USA to the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics
for shame! I make no apologies, and mince no words:
because that is where we are headed, with totalitarian liberals
like Dershowitz leading the charge. If fascism ever comes
to power in this country, it will not be a dictatorship of
the Right but of the Center-Left: its advocates will speak
in the language of modern liberalism, whose favorite phrase
OH BRAVE NEW
avers that both private and public [i.e. government] entities
routinely issue photo ID cards, so why not this? After all,
"it would reduce the likelihood that someone could, intentionally
or not, get lost in the cracks of multiple bureaucracies."
In the brave new world Dershowitz and his fellow illiberal
liberals are building for us, no one but no one will
ever get lost in the cracks. We'll all be watched and analyzed
like a germs under a microscope, and if anyone should get
out of line, why those "multiple bureaucracies" have multiple
ways of striking back.
THE END OF
agues that "we already require photo ID's for many activities,
including flying, driving, drinking and check-cashing. And
fingerprints differ from photographs only in that they are
harder to fake." So why not an ID for merely existing? Look,
there is nothing untoward about private institutions, such
as banks, requiring a photo identification. Exactly how this
is analogous to the government tracking the movements of every
individual or, at least, having that ability is a bit
of a mystery. And here's another: so how come this alleged
"civil libertarian" sees no danger in the federal government
maintaining a vast national database with all sorts of personal
information stored in it? Wartime "liberalism" is inevitably
totalitarian in its essential character, for that is when
the yen for "efficiency" overcomes whatever vestiges of true
(classical) liberalism remain.
As a renown
expositor of specious arguments obnoxiously and often brilliantly
argued, Dershowitz breaks new ground in separating the right
to privacy from the "right to anonymity." To the average simpleton,
like you or me, these two rights are synonymous. But not to
the all-too-clever lawyer, who twists language to get around
the clear intent of the law and the Constitution. "I don't
believe we can afford to recognize such a right [to anonymity]
in this age of terrorism," declares Dershowitz, because, "No
such right is hinted at in the Constitution." So anonymous
speech is not protected by the First Amendment which is,
for all intents and purposes, abolished. So much for the right
to be anonymous on the Internet: here Dershowitz falls into
line with the egregiously named "Patriot Act," which allows
the government to read our e-mail and track our Internet use.
And it's all okay, because, as Dershowitz says,
"Though the Supreme Court has identified a right to
privacy, privacy and anonymity are not the same. American
taxpayers, voters and drivers long ago gave up any right of
anonymity without loss of our right to engage in lawful conduct
within zones of privacy. Rights are a function of experience,
and our recent experiences teach that it is far too easy to
be anonymous even to create a false identity in this
large and decentralized country."
AN EASY TARGET
has not the slightest understanding of how to fight the war
on terrorism, otherwise he would understand that it is precisely
Al Qaeda's radically decentralized structure that makes
it such a formidable enemy. (Conversely, our centralism makes
us an easy target). With his foolish faith in the virtual
omniscience of governmental authorities, the totalitarian
liberal misses the point and whole lesson of 9/11, which was
nothing less than a demonstration of the characteristic weakness
of any large and centralized authority, such as an empire.
taxpayers long ago gave up their right to go about the ordinary
business of living unobserved by government, then what kind
of safety did it buy us? We have the right to look back, in
horror, at 9/11 and ask: What kind of tradeoff between liberty
and security was that?
The liberal faith in modernity, technology,
and the all-knowing all-wise collective consciousness of our
glorious government is here displayed in all its childlike
naivetι. Oh, but of course no one will be able to duplicate
this miraculous card, not when the geniuses who inhabit our
"multiple bureaucracies" set themselves to the task. And naturally
no one will ever think to misuse information gleaned by our
unleashed intelligence agencies to collect dirt on their political
opponents, or to target and disrupt legal and legitimate opposition
to the war. Conservatives who rush to endorse any and all
measures to "combat terrorism" today had better realize that
tomorrow these very same police state methods could be used
against them. If the image of President Hillary Clinton unleashing
her political police on the "vast right-wing conspiracy" doesn't
make them think twice, then they will deserve what they get
in the end.
THE LAW OF
recent conversion to the openly totalitarian wing of "liberalism,"
I am not at all surprised to see that he is now speculating
on the merits of torture. In
a recent speech, he called for "a national debate about
the circumstances in which torture is permissible and who
should have the power to decide when to use it." Oh, I get
it: the lawyers, in cahoots with the judges, will argue about
the merits of the rack versus an old-fashioned flogging. Perhaps
they could even consult the Islamic Law in this regard, which
prescribes all sorts of medieval tortures the severing
of limbs, stoning, being dropped off a mountain peak as
punishment for a variety crimes. As Dershowitz says in arguing
for a national ID card, "rights are a function of experience"
and away we go, all the way down to the very bottom
of the slippery slope, where we will wrestle with Bin Laden
in the muck.
INTO THE ABYSS
look long into an abyss," said Nietzsche, "the abyss also
looks into you." The results of this encounter will either
strengthen our republican form of government, or else destroy
it. If ever there was a time for testing, a time for Americans
to defend their heritage and the victory of 1776, then surely
it is now. They hate us because we're free, or so the politically
correct assure us but what if we aren't free? Gloating
in their victory, will they stop hating us? At that point,
however, the question wouldn't be worth contemplating if
it ever was.
values are inverted, and language is perverted. A particularly
grotesque example is the evolution of patriotism as a political-ideological
concept. The prewar image of the patriot rising up against
the King against unjust authority symbolized the spirit
of the American Revolution, the authentic patriotism which
animated the Founders. The founders of the American state
were libertarians who realized that they were creating, in
a central government, the deadly enemy of all they had fought
for. That is why they wrote into the Constitution an elaborate
system of checks and balances, so that centralization the
god of the modern liberal could never occur. The "Patriot
Act" which paves the way for Dershowitz's "mark of the
Beast" computer chip-card and the impulse that give birth
to this monstrous legislation represent the polar opposite
of this view. The faux-patriotism of the warmongers and the
totalitarian liberals assumes the form of the original
concept while stripping out the content. For what Americans
are patriotic about is liberty, not government: it
is our constitutional system, and not the "multiple bureaucracies"
that deform it, that Americans fought for and died to preserve.
of Irony dead? Not
by a long shot! Even as we fight to preserve "the American
way of life," the process of fighting to preserve it tends
to undermine and even destroy it. Is it possible to perish
from an overdose of irony? If so, then our old Republic is
in mortal danger.
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