This will never be the free country the
Founding Fathers intended until conservatives
really learn to respect individual rights.
Why I Am A Libertarian and Not A Conservative
by L. Neil Smith
Attribute to L. Neil Smith’s The Libertarian Enterprise
This essay is based on notes I made three years ago and never did anything else with. I have tons of material like this which will keep graduate students occupied and happy well into the next century.
I was surprised the see that, after everything that’s happened since, they’re still relevant. It all started when a local radio talk show host, Michael D. Brown, a former federal bureaucrat with whom I happen to agree more frequently than with many another right-wing pundit, launched into an hour-long rant, for reasons I only found out later, about the American atomic bombing of Hiroshima, and Nagasaki, Japan, some seventy-three years ago, in 1945, a year before I was born. I had no idea what had triggered this tirade. Unconsciously, I assumed it was an anniversary of some kind, but that’s in August: “Little Boy” was dropped on Hiroshima on August 7th, “Fat Man” fell on Nagasaki on my late mother’s birthday, August 9th.
Later on, I learned that His Supreme Cheesiness, Barack I, was on another of his expensive sojourns abroad to apologize abjectly to the world—for us—for being the most successful and humane society ever conceived. Brown and his lot were primarily concerned that it was going to be all about those nukes again (which it wasn’t, this time), and were loaded up with justifications for the bombings. Only a crazy, liberal revisionist, Brown maintained, at enormous length, would question that they were the right thing to have done.
Unlike this whippersnapper Brown, I was born and grew up in the shadow of World War II. My dad flew B-17s for the 8th Air Force, where he was a bombardier in Europe. Although he was shot down and was a prisoner of war in Germany for a year, for the rest of his life he pondered the ethics of what he had done, and never came to a conclusion that satisfied him.
I inherited the question from him and finally found an answer of sorts in another question: of the quarter-million individuals who died in those two Japanese cities, how many were active in the attack on Pearl Harbor or any other Imperial effort against the US? Probable answer: next to none, which means that we were deliberately initiating force against hundreds of thousands of innocent human beings. It also means that, despite Brown’s vehement protestations to the contrary, Harry Truman was a war criminal, for ordering those attacks.
Of course Brown pulled out all of the ancient, threadbare excuses for waging our ten-second Holocaust against the Japanese people. Given the well-known fanaticism the Japanese military exhibited in the Pacific Island War, it may have saved the lives, he maintained, of thousands more, Americans and Japanese alike—perhaps as many as a million—who might have died in a physical invasion of the Home Islands. Perhaps. To tell the truth, I have never seen that number presented as anything more than a politically-motivated speculation made after the fact. At the time, some thinkers wanted to demonstrate the power of the A-bomb in some way—on an uninhabited island, for example—that wouldn’t cause thousands of deaths.
What I have heard is that most Japanese were eager to surrender before the two atomic bombings (maybe Antiwar.com can back me up on this), and were desperate to surrender after the first, but had no way of communicating with Washington that couldn’t be deliberately buried the same way that warnings in advance of Pearl Harbor were in their day. I have also been given to understand that the reason we dropped two bombs was because the nauseatingly pro-Soviet Democrat administration didn’t want to be seen by Uncle Joe Stalin and his Commie Band as building an atomic arsenal against them.
Whatever the sordid details, and whatever the cost in human lives, this episode is useful in illustrating the critical ethical differences between libertarians and our erstwhile allies the conservatives. First and foremost, as the great Libertarian philosopher and teacher Robert LeFevre taught us, conservatives are collectivists—right-wing socialists—to whom there are many issues (national security, for one) more important than the health, well-being, and rights of the individual. He denied it later, but I once heard Newt Gingrich advocate suspending the Bill of Rights “for the duration” of the War on Drugs.
Conservative commentator Michelle Malkin is a splendid example of this; she thinks that rounding up and imprisoning thousands of innocent Japanese-Americans in concentration camps was just swell. If a “mere” quarter million more of them had to die in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, many of them horribly, to give the Democrats and Republicans their historic victory, then small price—what the hell, they didn’t vote, anyway.
To a real libertarian, though, there are no groups, in any moral sense, and only individuals have rights. No group, no matter how many kittens or puppies it is comprised of, no matter how many blue-eyed babies or crippled newsboys, has any more rights, to life, liberty, or property, than a single random human being. All else is suicidal sentiment and explains everything we’re going through right now.
Make no mistake, I’m enjoying the hell out of the Donald, his family and his cohorts, and even enjoy listening to right wing talking heads on TV. But I know (and so do you, now) that this will never be the free country the Founding Fathers intended until conservatives really learn to respect individual rights.
Award-winning novelist and essayist L. Neil Smith is a retired gunsmith, Publisher and Senior Columnist of L. Neil Smith’s The Libertarian Enterprise and the author of over thirty books. Look him up on Google, Wikipedia, and Amazon.com. He is available, at professional rates, to write columns, articles, and speeches for your organization, event, or publication, fiercely defending your rights, as he has done since the mid-1960s. His writings (and e-mail address) may also be found at L. Neil Smith’s The Libertarian Enterprise, at JPFO.org or at https://www.patreon.com/lneilsmith, to which you can contribute, directly. His many books and those of other pro-gun libertarians may be found (and ordered) at L. Neil Smith’s THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE “Free Radical Book Store” The preceding essay was originally prepared for and appeared in L. Neil Smith’s THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE. Use it to fight the continuing war against tyranny.
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