Hi, it's Steve. I'm back. Great work from Yastreblyansky, Tom, Crank, and Aimai while I was gone -- thanks, folks.
I came home to Robert Draper's ridiculous, credulous New York Times Magazine cover story "Has the 'Libertarian Moment' Finally Arrived?" Tom briefly dealt with the story when it appeared online during the week, but I read it in print -- whn it turned up in a paper in which the lead news item was "Iraq Airstrikes May Continue for Months, Obama Says." That news would seem to offer an excellent opportunity for a movement devoted to small government and a resistance to interventionism, right? So I'm sure Rand Paul, the fervent peacenik, has already stepped up and made himself an anti-war leader -- right? Especially when Hillary Clinton, the Democrat against whom Paul will probably run if he wins the Republican presidential nomination in 2016, is positioning herself to President Obama's right, blaming the rise of ISIS on America's failure to intervene more forcefully in Syria. Perfect opportunity for libertarians to assert themselves -- right?
Well, no. Senator Paul has been attacking Hillary Clinton, but he can't seem to figure out whether he's angry at her from the left or from the right.
"Hillary's war in Libya, Hillary's war in Syria," he said. "None of this was ever approved by Congress."Right:
Over the last week, he didn't just blame Hillary Clinton for the current state of Libya, he said she created a "Jihadist wonderland" there. He didn't just knock her for not fortifying the Benghazi embassy, he said she treated the place "as if it were Paris."Hey, kids -- there's the guy who's supposed to lead your new peace movement! He sounds pretty much like a Republican! Excited?
I also came back to a city that's still feeling tension because police killed an unarmed black man on Staten Island last month by putting him in a chokehold. Eric Garner, overweight and asthmatic, was the focus of the cops' attention because the city is cracking down on people selling loose cigarettes.
Selling loose cigarettes? What could be more of a libertarian issue?
In his Times Magazine cover story, Draper describes a visit to the offices of Reason magazine:
On the afternoon that I showed up to chat with the longtime libertarian writer and editor Nick Gillespie at the posh Washington offices of Reason, just off Dupont Circle, a dozen or so staff members were hanging out in the kitchen, drinking Green Hat gin. (It is named in honor of George Cassiday, a bootlegger who was known as "the man in the green hat" and who provided liquor to congressmen during Prohibition, thus making it a quintessentially libertarian beverage.)There you have it -- the libbies celebrate a guy who, long ago, sold hooch in defiance of government regulation, but here's a guy killed by the cops for selling unlicensed smokes and they have no interest whatsoever.
Why isn't Rand Paul standing shoulder to shoulder with Al Sharpton in protests of Garner's death? For that matter, why isn't Nick Gillespie there in his damn leather jacket? Libertarians can talk all they want in the abstract about black incarceration rates, and it's sweet of Senator Paul to bring that issue up in front of white crowds. But here's a flesh-and-blood black man who's dead because of law-and-order excesses -- and dead because of alleged entrepreneurialism -- and the libbies are nowhere to be found. They're invisible as they've been invisible throughout the fight over stop-and-frisk (the cops who stop and frisk are looking for guns, so you'd think the libbies would be all over that).
Draper attends a libertarian rally in New Hampshire, where he sees an item with the slogan "I Do Not Consent to Searches." You know who can afford to make that kind of assertion? Someone who has no real fear of ever having to say no to a police search -- a white person, in other words. Libertarians talk tough on this issue, but they have no sympathy for the significant segment of the U.S. population for whom it represents a day-to-day fear, with possible deadly consequences. Stop-and-frisk? "Driving while black"? Libertarians don't care. And I guarantee you libertarians aren't going to express any concern about Michael Brown, an unarmed black eighteen-year-old who was shot to death this weekend in a confrontation with cops in a St. Louis suburb.
Libertarians want to have "a moment"? They want to secure the vote of Millennials, who are skeptical of war and increasingly multi-racial? Maybe they ought to try actually living up to their principles. Maybe they should step up when their principles are violated in the real world. When they fail to do so, we naturally assume that those principles are a sham, and all they really care about is getting high legally without paying taxes.