This past weekend, we had another great session on “Civil Liberties, the War on Terrorism, and the Constitution.” This time we were at the annual conference of the Students for Liberty, a fantastic organization of college students who are predominantly libertarian. The conference attracted more than 1000 attendees, and we had an overflow crowd at our panel, which consisted of Jack Hunter, Bruce Fein, and me.
Meanwhile, Bart Frazier, FFF’s program director, manned our booth at conference, where he handed out sample copies of our monthly print journal and copies of my essay “Economic Liberty and the Constitution.”
Jack Hunter, who works for the Young Americans for Liberty (YAL), with whom we did our recent College Civil Liberties Tour and who also writes for American Conservative magazine, opened the program with a welcome, an introduction of the panelists, and an introductory statement on why civil liberties are so important and how they are being lost in the era of the “war on terrorism.” Jack’s introduction was then followed by presentations by Bruce, who served in the Justice Department during the Reagan administration, and me, which was followed by some great Q&A.
We recorded the entire event and you can watch it here. Also, we have now posted the videos for all four of our presentations for our College Civil Liberties Tour that we did with YAL — at Columbia University, Indiana University/Purdue University, Middle Tennessee State University, and Ohio State University. You can see them here.
As I told the students as last weekend’s program, all of us have been born and raised under the warfare state — a vast military empire and national-security establishment. The statists will tell us that this is all permanent — that everyone just needs to accept that and do what we can to make society within that militarist-imperialist paradigm.
Nonsense, I told the students. In fact, the Egyptian military regime, which the U.S. military empire and national security establishment has long supported, is saying the same thing to the Egyptian people — that Egypt’s vast military establishment and national security state are the permanent foundation of Egyptian society and that the Egyptian people had better just get used to that idea and build their society on top of it.
In fact, as I told the students, it’s ironic that we now live in a society in which the government wields the same type of dictatorial powers wielded by the Egyptian military regime that the U.S. government has long supported — the power to take people into custody as suspected terrorists, deny them a trial by jury, detain them for life, torture them, and even execute them.
But the statists who tell us that all this is now a permanent feature of American life and that there is nothing Americans can do about it are wrong. Nothing is permanent, especially not statism. While the older generations have chosen statism, in the form of socialism, interventionism, militarism, and imperialism, they cannot bind later generations into accepting their philosophy.
The U.S. military empire, the military industrial complex, and the national security are at the root of America’s woes. With their invasions, occupations, hundreds of overseas military bases, endless projection of force, kidnappings, Gitmo, international network of secret prison camps, torture, indefinite detention, denial of trial by jury and due process of law, rendition, torture partnerships, support of brutal foreign dictatorships, sanctions, embargoes, out of control federal spending and debt, and perpetual crises, fear, and preparation for war, they have wrought nothing but death, destruction, financial bankruptcy, shame, and ignominy on our nation, not to mention the tremendous anger and rage that manifests itself in the constant threat of terrorist retaliation.
And then the statists have used that threat of retaliation to infringe on our freedom here at home — the USA PATRIOT Act, the body groping at the airports, the illegal monitoring of emails and telephone records, the immunity granted officials for illegal acts, the enemy combatant doctrine, warrantless sneak and peak searches into people’s homes, businesses, and financial records, indefinite military detention and torture of American citizens, assassination of American citizens, and much more.
As I told the students, this is not what our nation was supposed to be all about. This is not what our ancestors had in mind when they consented to the Constitution, which brought the federal government into existence. That’s why our ancestors used four separate amendments to prevent a government of such dictatorial powers from coming into existence: the Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, and Eighth Amendments.
As I told the students, nothing is inevitable. Through the power of ideas, ideals, and principles, we can restore a free society and a constitutional republic to our land. After all, if the statists could succeed in bringing statism to our land, then surely we can succeed in restoring freedom to our land, especially since Americans can now taste the bitter fruit that statism has brought us.
This evening, we have a great program lined up for our Economic Liberty Lecture Series, which we do in conjunction with the George Mason University Economics Student, a student-run group interested in libertarianism and Austrian economics. It will be live-streamed here. Here are the details:
Economic Liberty Lecture Series
Pizza, Lecture, & Social Hour
Speaker: Claudia R. Williamson, Post-Doctoral Fellow at New York University Topic: “The Trouble With Aid”
George Mason University – Student Union Building II, Rooms 3 & 4
5:30 p.m. — Pizza
6:00 p.m. — Lecture and Q&A
8:00 p.m. — Social Hour at Brion’s Grille