L. Neil Smith's
THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE
Number 142, October 8, 2001
More Harm Than Good?
On the "Libertarian" Friends of Mass Murderers
by David M. Brown
Exclusive to TLE
If some twisted fanatic commits mass murder that costs the lives of many of your friends and family, or at any rate traumatizes you and many of your friends and family ... how would you feel if a neighbor came up to you and said "a bit more than a small part of me is cheering [that mass murderer] on..."?
But you already know, if you read last week's TLE letters-to-the-editor column...
...and have been watching the news for the past few weeks.
Although there is plenty of necessary understanding of contributive causes to be gleaned from examining the historical and foreign-policy context in which the attacks on the Pentagon and World Trade Center occurred -- yes, we should still study history, even and especially after this disaster -- there is certainly no moral justification for said mass murder to be extracted via any such investigation.
Obvious, right? Not a point that needs to be explained to any normal, psychologically healthy person, right? So if some squishy-liberal psychologist tells the families of the victims of Richard Speck or Son of Sam that these guys had pretty lousy childhoods, an exculpatory fact if ever there was one, the psychologist shouldn't expect the families of the victims to nod their heads and say, "Oh yeah, good point. I still disagree with what he did but you make a very good point there. We must root out poverty and bad childhoods if we are going to have any hope of stopping serial killings of our children in the future."
Every normal person knows that just as he is morally responsible for his own conduct, so is everybody else thus self-responsible. Every normal person knows that no victimized mother would or should put up with the ranting of a wannabe healer and advisor who confesses that "no small part of me is cheering what this guy did to your daughter, inasmuch as your daughter was successful and effective and making her way in the world and this killer was a foiled, frustrated loser whose only means of being somebody was to destroy, which he did in fact achieve here, give him credit for that much at least." If someone of whatever alleged ideology were to make such a statement, in apparent-all-seriousness, expressing heartfelt moral sympathy for the mass murderer with respect to his mass murdering, there can only be one response. And part of that response must consist of an extended digit. Right?
And, of course, obviously, there is similarly nothing to "cheer about" or condone or excuse vis-a-vis the vicious mass murder of thousands of innocent people.
There is no point in explaining any of this to any normal person, except to assure him that he is not the one who is insane. Less point in trying to explain it to any self-confessed friends of mass murderers posturing as "libertarians."
Mass murderers and their buddy-apologists are immune to any common-sense appeals to the sanctity of human life and the wrongfulness of engaging in vicious mass murder. Normal, psychologically healthy people don't "cheer" about such acts, let alone the actual friends of life and liberty. So maybe this is a mole operation, and bin Laden is training his troops to speak in Libertarianese as a way of demoralizing the true advocates of liberty, with our babbling epistolarian as one of the moles.
Maybe. But maybe something else is going on. And, maybe, just as the conflagration of September 11 will help the American public and its leaders take appropriate preventative and defensive measures, the publication by TLE on October 1 of that letter by that so-called "libertarian" will help those of us who actually do favor life and liberty to understand a certain kind of American social phenomenon and take appropriate preventative and defensive measures.
I forwarded the letter in question to a friend of mine, a journalist who has worked in the criminal justice arena and done more than his fair share of investigation into the unsavory psyche of killers. My friend did the dirty work of providing me with the following analysis and cautionary:
" 'Don't bother to examine a folly,' says Ayn Rand, 'just ask yourself what it accomplishes.' Well, since the views expressed by people such as the pro-bin Laden 'libertarian' you quoted are so flagrantly irrational, and internally inconsistent on their own premises, I think we are more than justified to move from a philosophical to a psychological analysis.
"The letter writer's crazy, emotional attack on American government and society really drives home to me just how much hatred can be found within 'our' ideological camp. It's a hatred so disproportionate to its alleged source that you can only conclude that the libertarian movement harbors a number of utterly alienated people, seething with personal frustrations, humiliations, ineffectuality, and anger, and looking outward for some convenient scapegoat to blame for their misery.
"Their hatred of the American government -- their feeling of being oppressed in this, the freest country on earth -- is obviously not political or philosophical in origin. If so, how could these same people possibly sympathize, cheer, and prefer a self-professed totalitarian killer (as this writer openly does), working in cahoots with overtly-totalitarian, butcher regimes with the expressed goal of imposing a totalitarian theocracy on the world and killing all 'infidels'?
"Their sympathies are not just with bin Laden, allegedly about U. S. foreign policy; they also lie with domestic terrorists such as the militia movement or even Timothy McVeigh. It's an across-the-board 'sympathy for the devil,' psychological in its origins: an emotional kinship with figures who seem to mirror their own rage, and who appear to be lashing out potently against a society in which they feel impotent, and from which they therefore feel totally alienated. I read their sympathy for the terrorists as their confession that they simply can't find a way to fit into American culture -- that they simply can't cut it here, at least not emotionally or socially.
"This isn't to say that some of these people can't function okay within the economic system; many do. But it's clear they aren't happy campers in their personal lives; that they feel like outsiders, alienated and isolated and hostile.
"These misfits seem to be examples of my observation that 'problems loom large when men don't.' In this case, the U. S. (their environment) becomes to them the huge symbolic barrier to their happiness -- 'the Great Satan' (a view they share viscerally with the terrorists) -- a big, overwhelming, threatening source of anxiety and frustration. But that's not because this view is objectively valid: it's because they feel so small, insignificant, ineffectual, and humiliated. And they find solace in the belief that it isn't their fault, but the fault of the society around them that's somehow oppressing their aspirations and happiness.
"I think this is the psychology of nihilism -- as Eric Hoffer described so well in The True Believer, and as I discovered it in my studies of criminal psychology, the psychology of sociopaths.
"Now that these misfits are revealing themselves as socially
marginalized, the Objectivist and libertarian movements would do well to
marginalize them, as well."
I don't know whether my friend's above analysis accurately describes the mentality of the author of the fatuous letter published by The Libertarian Enterprise on October 1 in response to my article "On Attacking Nations that Harbor Terrorists" http://webleyweb.com/tle/libe140-20010924-02.html. If there is a more plausible alternative hypothesis, I'll entertain it..
What I do know is that the author of that letter is one sick mass-murderer-befriending f**k; and that it is not only inadvisable but stupid to collaborate with, or argue with, or have anything whatever to do with same.