Barnes: Protect Even Your Enemy from Oppression

As the details unfold regarding this weekend’s ruckus in Charlottesville, we must again refrain from losing our ability to reason.  It has occurred to me that near everyone is reacting through emotion and not reason.  While what happened is detestable, the sentiment it is creating is even more so.  The foundation of free speech itself is in danger.

The beauty of our country constantly finds itself at the edge of our own knife.  It is the ability to be free.  You can dislike what others stand for.  But, when you condemn their ability to stand for something, you are condemning your own abilities as well.  Thomas Paine said it best when he proclaimed

“He that would make his own liberty secure, must guard even his enemy from oppression; for if he violates this duty, he establishes a precedent that will reach to himself.”

What this means is, if we give government the power to silence free speech because we disagree with that group, eventually the government will have that same power to wield over us.  The only ones to be heard will be singing the praises of the state.  The voices of dissent will be silenced.

I do not identify with either the groups protesting or the anti-protest group.  I do not condone identity politics as a goal oriented strategy.  This is where groups band together based on commonalities such as race, Religion, social background, sexual preference and many others.  Society is forcing you to identify with these groups to be heard.  Once a formidable group announces it’s intentions, they inexorably ferment opposition.  Even,that opportunity may be coming to an end as well, if we can’t figure this out using our ability to reason.

If I identify with any group, it is going to be the individual.  This is simultaneously the smallest minority and the largest majority.  I fight to protect the rights of the individual.  I stand by my opinion that the government cannot give something to one person without first taking it from another.  This applies to groups as well which is what makes identity politics such a manipulative and incendiary tool.  They can pit us all against each other as long as you identify as one of those groups.  Divide and conquer has always been a winning strategy, and it works well in our country too.  It is not feasible for those in power pit each individual against every other individual.

If you continue to fight for groups and not individuals, the divisions between us will keep us all in a place that maintains our ineffectiveness as a free society.  All groups come and go, individuals are the only constant worth fighting for.  You can continue to fight for some form of collectivism or another, but your efforts will not prevent your group’s inescapable journey into oblivion along with the freedoms of us all.  You can fight for the individual and no one can ever question your motives, for individual liberty is the yearning of ALL mankind.  It is the eternal endeavor of all to achieve and a relentless burden to maintain.


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