Tuesday, September 23, 2008

McCarthy, Free Speech, and the nature of the enemy

1) Lefty suggests that McCarthy’s concerns about spies weren’t justified inasmuch as the USSR would have developed atomic weapons very quickly without this information. All the spies did was hasten the acquisition of atomic weapons by the USSR by some inconsequential period of time. I don’t believe that is true. If we look at the circumstances surrounding Iran’s attempts to acquire atomic weapons we see that the process is difficult and tedious and time consuming. Some think Iran is still years away. If a nation’s scientists must duplicate the research and not get help from an outside source, the development of atomic weapons will require (lacking the genius of those in the Manhattan Project) several years. U.S. scientists began work in 1939. It took until 1945 to obtain nuclear weapons. How long would it take a nation who didn’t have scientists of that caliber? In my view the giving of atomic weapons technology to an enemy who wished to “bury us” was one of the most egregious examples of treason. Not only should those found guilty receive the severest punishment, but in retrospect those who attempted to expose them should be applauded. See my discussion of the idea of Enemy in (5) below:

2) Actions taken during times of war to prevent espionage and fifth-column activity do not comprise tyrannous executive abuse. Such actions are merely prudent – actions any sensible government would take to protect its people (including the people’s government and military). The fact that so many have lost sight of the necessity for such action implies an eroding of the sense of our identity and confusion of whatever it is that comprises an Enemy -- see (5) below.

3) Lefty asks what freedoms I would surrender in order to fight the Islamist enemy. Lefty invoked the writings of Andrew Hamilton in 1735. I’m sure there were citizens of that period who when traveling from place to place would understand the command of a soldier, “Quick, get back behind those rocks. Indians are coming.” The freedom to not get behind the rocks is one I would have been willing to give up in 1735. And today if the enemy is identified in a certain way and is engaged in activities harmful to our nation, I expect the government to take steps to neutralize him. If our government is able to find this enemy by monitoring phone calls or internet messages, then I want my government to do that. I want it to take these necessary steps to root this enemy out. If my phone and internet messages are out there as part of the database the government has access to, I have no problem with that as long as the government is bent upon rooting out our enemy.

4) When I said it was the act and not the intention that should be judged, I had our enemy in mind. If an enemy takes no action but believes in the eventual victory of Communism or Islamism, he is entitled to his belief in our pluralistic society. But if he takes action to advance his cause whether it be espionage, or fifth-column-type depredations then his actions should be judged and penalized. If a reporter acts in such a way that the enemy is benefited then he or his newspaper are “guilty of something.” Lefty wondered why I used this term, but I concede the possibility that the reporter and his editor may both have been inept, ignorance is no excuse. Some punishment should be levied. Perhaps only a fine, but newspapers should not be allowed to give aid and comfort to our enemy.

5) I think we as a society have lost sight of what an Enemy consists of. We don’t even like the term. We probably squirm when we hear it. We have opened ourselves up to so many variables, so many opinions, so much free speech and free everything that we are not willing to say that anything is fundamentally wrong or off limits lest we find ourselves on the proverbial “slippery slope” and end up wrong ourselves. I don’t believe that declaring an enemy wrong in our society puts us on a slippery slope. Quite the contrary. Unless we are able to recognize an enemy, we are already on a slippery slope. If people stand up in our Universities and declare that we should be destroyed and that what our enemies did on 9/11 was a good thing; then they have moved into the enemy camp and should be treated as enemies. In time of war we should curtail the freedoms of our enemies within our borders. We were able to do that in the past. Why have we lost the ability to do it in the present? Our fear for the loss such things as Freedom of Speech has put us on a Slippery Slope that given the arguments of our enemies could end up in our extinction? If we stand for everything (which seems to be the Free Speech contention) then we stand for nothing. There is no longer any point in our existence as a distinct nation with a distinct people concerned about its continued existence.

Lawrence Helm


No comments: