THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE
Number 456, February 17, 2008
"Just Say NoTo Victim Disarmament!"
Attribute to The Libertarian Enterprise
Ayaan Hirsi Ali should learn about the zero aggression principle. She clearly has difficulty differentiating between aggressive acts against individuals and their property from expressions of free speech, freedom of religion, or political ideology. Her interview by Rogier van Bakel in the November 2007 Reason gives some examples of what she doesn't understand.
She says, "You stop the symbol burning and the effigy burning and you look them in the eye and flex your muscles and you say, 'This is a warning. We won't accept this anymore.' There comes a moment when you crush your enemy." She continues in the same vein, "It's not just a piece of cloth. It's a symbol. In a tribal mind-set, if I'm allowed to take something and get away with it, I'll come back and take some more. In fact, I'll come and take the whole place, especially since it's my holy obligation to spread Islam to the outskirts of the earth and I know I'll be rewarded in heaven." She notes with enthusiasm that the Egyptian dictatorship does not allow radical imams to preach in Cairo, but scorns the fact that they are free to preach in mosques in London.
Yes, it is a piece of cloth. Moreover, it is a piece of cloth that was sold, not stolen. If someone buys something, he owns it, and one sense in which ownership is defined is in the freedom to utterly destroy what you own. Ayn Rand wrote extensively about entrepreneurs destroying their factories rather than allow them to be looted by second handers.
But, in the midst of this diatribe against flag burning, Ayaan switches to the funds raised by a non-governmental organization in Iran to murder Salman Rushdie. Murder, of course, is an act of aggression. It is initiatory force. Any decent person should oppose it. Opposing murder and opposing free expression are two completely different things, but Ayaan won't allow for the option of opposing murder and not opposing free expression. She wants a Western dictatorship to round up the undesirables, "the usual suspects" who insist on thinking and acting differently.
She wanted to eliminate Islamic schools in Holland. She says, "...but Theo rode to work on his bicycle one morning, and a man armed with knives and guns took Theo's life in the name of his Godand that same man, Mohammed Bouyeri, wasn't born believing that [emphasis in original]. The people who introduced this mind set to Bouyeri took advantage of the notion of freedom of religion and other civil liberties."
But, those people did not murder Theo van Gogh, who helped Ayaan produce an excellent movie protesting Islamic repression of women. She is conflating non-aggressive acts, such as teaching, with aggressive acts. A huge number of people went to the same schools as Mohammed Bouyeri, listened to the same ideas, and did not kill Theo van Gogh. Ayaan herself went to similar schools where she was taught to hate Jews, but she did not kill anyone.
She cites the case of Samir Azouz, who was plotting to kill her and other Dutch politicians. She sheds crocodile tears in her review of his youth, "He was just going to an officially recognized school in a multicultural society. Everyone approvedand now he's being punished for it. He's in jail."
Clearly, he's not in jail for going to school. He's in jail for organizing to engage in initiatory force. He's in jail for planning to murder her, taking steps to carry out those plans such as getting maps of the Dutch parliament, and presumably making his intentions known in a way that convinced a Dutch jury to put him away in prison. Many other people went to the same school without becoming attempted murderers.
The problem for Westerners, including Russians, Japanese, Chinese, Americans, all kinds of Europeans, and many in other countries, is that repressive governments have killed, in the 20th Century alone, hundreds of millions of people. In comparison, the twits with their suicide bombs are a minor irritation.
She says, "The drawback is, in this case, that 'let's learn from experience' means other people's lives will be taken." Even having a democratic process to debate whether or not to close all the Islamic schools and discuss whether there is, in fact, a fundamental difference between killing someone and burning a flag that you own, costs lives. Ayaan wants us to stop talking about these things, because "...we are at war with Islam." She demands a stop to spreading the ideology of Islam, a stop to the infiltration of schools and universities of the West by Islamic ideas, and a stop to the burning of symbols and of effigies.
She is out of her mind. She has no concept of how to distinguish between kinds of behavior. She has been severely traumatized all her life by people of the Islamic faith, and she has seen a good friend's murdered body, so of course she may be excused for being nuts. But, she's also a member of an influential think tank, the American Enterprise Institute, and she may not be forgiven for influencing policy to destroy the First Amendment protection for free speech, freedom of religion, freedom of assembly, and freedom of the press. She may not be excused for wanting to burn the entire Bill of Rights down to the ground, forever.
Yes, people have died because Islamic jerks spreading their ideology of hatred of humanity, submission to Allah, and persecution of women have convinced a few people to blow themselves up, or fly planes into buildings. But, in the greater scheme of things, very few people have died in these ways, for these reasons. Many hundreds of millions of people over the centuries have been killed by brutal repressive evil governments, governments that wore the faces of civility, of decency, of ordinary neighbors, but which acted without any kind of limit.
The people who are killed by Islamic terrorists die in the fight for freedom. Freedom is not free. It has a very high price. The price is the eternal vigilance of those who seek to be free, and the price is the blood and treasure of many millions who fight and die for freedom. Yes, if Americans do not allow the Bill of Rights to be eviscerated by the likes of Ayaan Hirsi Ali, more people are going to be killed by radical Islamic terrorists. Those deaths, and many more, have always been the real price of freedom.
Ayaan wonders where Article 23 of the Dutch constitution has come from, the article which protects religious schools from state oppression. She imagines that there is huge guilt among the Dutch for having continued the British system of apartheid in South Africa, and for centuries of colonialism. She's completely wrong.
The Dutch people involved in colonialism were reasonably considerate compared to their French, British, German, Italian, Turkish, and Belgian colleagues in colonialism. Most Dutch didn't think their administration of, say, Batavia, was all that bad. Certainly not in comparison to the work done in Batavia by the Empire of Japan. And Dutch colonial rule has nothing to do with Article 23, or the spirit of religious tolerance in Europe, which Ayaan has identified with the Enlightenment.
The piece of the picture she is missing is the religious wars of the Fifteenth, Sixteenth, and Seventeenth Centuries which brought about the age of Enlightenment after millions of people were slaughtered all over Europe for daring to have differing views on religion from the hierarchical maniacs of the Catholic Church. During, say, the Thirty Years War, tens of thousands fled to Holland to avoid the suffering and the madness as Catholic and Protestant armies rampaged across Europe, raping, looting, and massacring in the name of what was right and holy.
The reason we do not want governments to tell us what we may think about God is because governments have taken far too many lives with that power. The Soviets did it in the name of atheism, the Inquisitors in the name of Catholicism, the Puritan witch burners in the name of Protestantism, and, yes, Tamerlane did it in the name of Allah. And they are all liars, murderers, and thieves.
We have a Bill of Rights to state our unwillingness to have a government of unlimited power, to protect the rights inherent in our nature, to demand that we be left alone. If defending the Bill of Rights from would-be dictators like Ayaan Hirsi Ali who object to freedom of expression means that we make ourselves targets for Islamic radicals, that is a small price to pay.
And that price would be even smaller if Americans were universally armed in defense of their liberty, as is their God-given right, as protected by the Second Amendment. The answer to radical Islamic nut-jobs trying to murder us on the street is not, as with Theo van Gogh, to submit meekly to the state's demand that we not have guns. His murderer did not submit to that demand.
Theo should have shot back. He should have defended himself with a gun. He should have stood up for his liberty, his life, and his property. The fact that he did not, that he was a lamb being slaughtered because first his government had disarmed him, is neither the fault of Americans, nor of the radical Islamic terrorist who killed him. It is his fault. He should not have been threatened with murder by a mad man, but he should also have prepared for it.
The Zero Aggression Principle is not pacifist. It is activist. Understanding it would go a long way toward curing what is wrong with Ayaan Hirsi Ali and every other person who thinks that "times have changed" and that we may, now, trust those who seek to govern by giving them unlimited power over how we dress, think, act, write, speak, and teach.