L. Neil Smith's
THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE
Number 50, July 4, 1999
Morning In Amerika
by L. Neil Smith
Special to The Libertarian Enterprise
Lemme tell you a stupid story.
The names have been changed to protect the stupid.
A friend of mine has a wife who, in the course of her work, comes
into contact with many foreign nationals. One of them has a wife he
must leave alone while he attends out-of-town functions in the course
of his work. All of them reside in a small, low crime-rate western
city. recently the scene of a couple of series of shockingly brutal
Expressing concern for his wife's safety, the foreigner (who comes
from a violent part of the world himself) asks his co-worker where he
can get a gun to leave with his wife when he's away, and what kind of
gun is best. He knows his co-worker and her husband are competitive
shooters and outspoken on Second Amendment issues. She suggests a
.357 magnum which can be loaded with .38 Specials to begin with, and
tells him she'll talk with her husband about sources.
The foreigner also fears that his boss -- himself an immigrant and
new-fledged citizen but a rabid Clinton fan and hysterical
anti-gunner -- might find out; he makes his co-worker promise to keep
his request discreet. Being a responsible person, she also extracts a
promise, that her friend will send his wife to her for living room
and firing range instruction.
In a few days someone is found who wants to sell a suitable gun at a
suitable price. Everyone is happy -- until the cash the foreigner
gives his co-worker turns out to be a stack of consecutively numbered
tens, a big red stain along the lower right-hand corner of each bill.
The American husband can hear the prosecutor asking the ATF agent if
these are the bills he supplied to facilitate an illegal firearms
transfer between a known "Constitutionalist" and potential Middle
In a nanosecond, the deal is off. Everybody goes from happy to
embarrassed. The American husband has to explain to the foreigner
that, despite the pictures painted by media and officially sanctioned
parties, this country isn't the haven it used to be. Waco comes up in
their conversation -- held outdoors in a crowd -- along with agencies
for which there is no Constitutional justification, and seizure laws.
Everyone is sad.
All because a decent individual worried about his wife, and other
decent individuals understood and shared his worry and were willing
to help him.
All because (it says here) the Bill of Rights applies to everybody in
America, even foreigners -- except, by gosh, by golly gee, for the
All because America (let's make it Amerika) has become just the sort
of police state Yippies, Zippies, Lippies, or whoever it was claimed
it was back in the 60s, the irony being that they're the very ones --
Waco Willie and his Khmer Pinque wife come to mind -- who've made it
All because the America I pledged allegiance to is dead.
Every day I get internet messages about how my communication is being
monitored by some outfit Thomas Jefferson and friends started this
country to do away with. Every day I hear about how my phone may be
tapped for no better reason than that I talk a lot about Thomas
Jefferson. I know the government's been opening mail since the
Vietnam War. Every day I see more evidence that America is now like
the Russia of Gorky Park where anyone can be the enemy and the byword
of the times, so urgent and cogent that it's the slogan of a popular
TV show, is "Trust No One".
As usual in these cases, questions remain that likely never will be
answered. Was the foreigner a snitch? That would be too bad; he's a
nice guy everybody likes. He's also here (as opposed to there) and
would probably like to stay here. He comes from a particularly
unpleasant corner of the planet being ruled by particularly
unpleasant state terrorists masquerading as benevolent protectors. He
has a wife and baby. In short, he's unusually vulnerable to the
We'll never know.
Has this stupid chain of events taught us anything? Only what events
like it have taught people in other police states over the decades --
that even paranoids have enemies, and that in a police state, no good
deed goes unpunished.
It's been said that "War is the health of the state". In a police
state, good deeds -- unsupervised acts of unlicensed generosity
leading to the establishment of self-sufficiency -- are the enemy of
the state. In an increasingly cold world, another tiny spark of
decency and kindliness has winked out. Another individual is left
helpless, thanks to the way freelance rapists and muggers are
assisted by official rapists and muggers who collect their salaries
at our involuntary expense.
Keep that in mind next time you're inclined to berate "purists" like
me who complain -- correctly -- of a presidential candidate who isn't
even close to perfect. Keep it in mind when you hear the whining of a
former friend who left the movement out of the basest possible motive
to join the enemy, who reviled his former comrades to curry favor
with new masters, and who now tries to worm his way back into the
movement by lying about why I'll have nothing to do with him.
In our own small portion of this sorry world, BATF and other outlaw
agencies have begun stamping out every trace of warmth and chivalry
among human beings, making decent impulses so risky and potentially
expensive nobody can afford to excercise them. If what I hear about
internet snooping is correct, they're reading this and sniggering
obscenely to themselves just like the Beavis and Buttheads they are,
because it's exactly what they'd hoped to accomplish.
Yet next year, five years, ten years from now, when civilization has
been rendered even more attenuated by their efforts, and something
terrible happens to someone they love down in the ugly violent
streets that they have created, they'll wail their outrage at the
stars and blame everybody but themselves.
Meanwhile, I repeat what I said on a previous occasion. Back when it
was a free country, America worked. Now that it's a police state, it
doesn't any more.
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