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Loving the Children

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Love for the children is one of the favorite justifications that Democrats and Republicans use to maintain and expand government control over people’s lives. Whenever libertarians propose ending the war on drugs, along with all of its terribly destructive consequences, a standard Democratic-Republican response is, “We have to maintain the war on drugs for the sake of the children.” When libertarians propose a separation of school and state, Democrats and Republicans respond, “Oh, we have to have public schooling because otherwise the children will not become educated.” New Internet controls are justified with, “We love the children and therefore we must protect them from Internet marauders.”

The question that has to be answered is: Is there a real, genuine love for children among politicians and bureaucrats? Or is this purported love simply a cover for more power and control over the lives of the American people?

Let’s consider some instances that might reasonably raise questions about whether there is a general love for children among U.S. government officials.

Consider what happened at Waco, Texas, a few years ago. During the standoff with David Koresh and the Branch Davidians, everyone from the president to the attorney general to the ATF to the FBI to the U.S. Army knew that there were children among the inhabitants of the besieged compound.

The government came up with all kinds of purported misdeeds supposedly committed by Koresh and his cohorts from gun violations to child abuse to strange religious beliefs. But at no time did government officials ever suggest that any of the children in the compound had committed any crimes.

What happened to the government’s genuine love for children at Waco? It appeared to be nonexistent. After all, government officials knowingly and intentionally injected dangerous, life-threatening, flammable gas into the compound, knowing that the children could not protect themselves with ill-fitting gas masks. Later, they attacked the compound with Army tanks, knocking down walls that could easily have smashed a child.

Most of the Branch Davidians, including many of the children, were ultimately killed in the fire that erupted within the compound. What was the government’s immediate response? It ordered the entire compound bulldozed in order to destroy any evidence of government wrongdoing and any possibility of a full investigation into the attack and the killing.

What was the government’s attitude toward the dead children? It was very strange, considering the great love that the government has for children in general. For there was total indifference to the fact that innocent children were killed in the government’s raid on the compound. At no time did the FBI, the ATF, the Justice Department, the Army, or the president suggest a memorial service for the Branch Davidian children. There was absolutely no remorse ever shown for the dead children at Waco, not even when government officials celebrated their conquest by raising their government flag up the Branch Davidian flagpole.

Why not any remorse or grief? If one has a genuine love for children, why exempt the innocent children killed as a result of the attack at Waco? Even if the children had been killed by the Branch Davidians, as the government later suggested, a real love for children would cause someone to express grief at their deaths. Yet, government officials never showed any regrets whatsoever that innocent children had suffered and died at Waco.

Compare this attitude of indifference with that toward the children who died in the bombing at Oklahoma City. There, governmental officials expressed and continue to express tremendous grief and remorse over the deaths of those innocent children. There have been innumerable memorial services to commemorate their deaths.

Why the difference? When people have a genuine love for children in general, why should there be a distinction between innocent children killed through no fault of their own in Texas and others killed through no fault of their own in Oklahoma?

The difference in attitude, in all likelihood, lies in the fact that the children at Waco were children of Branch Davidians, while the children at Oklahoma City were the children of government officials. Government officials take the position that the loss of the Branch Davidian children was no big deal because they were the children of religious “weirdoes” “white-trash” children and, therefore, not very valuable. To lose that type of child is no big loss.

Imagine what would have happened at Waco if the children in the compound had been children of FBI agents taken hostage by the Branch Davidians. Does anyone doubt that the government’s approach to the crisis would have been different? Would the government still have injected dangerous, life-threatening, flammable gas into the compound, thereby endangering the lives of the FBI children?

It never would have happened. The government would never have engaged in any conduct that would have threatened the well-being of government children. But since it was “only” Branch Davidian children who were at risk, the government’s attitude was one of reckless indifference, at best.

What about the killing of Sammy Weaver and Vicki Weaver at Ruby Ridge, Idaho? He was 14 years old when U.S. government officials killed him by shooting him in the back. Vicki Weaver was holding her baby in her arms when she was shot in the head and killed.

Did the government’s love for children manifest itself at Ruby Ridge? Not exactly. The government never showed any regret or remorse for what happened. Instead, medals for valor were awarded to the government officials who shot the child in the back. And when state officials brought criminal proceedings against the official who endangered Vicki Weaver’s baby when he shot her in the head, government agents immediately rallied to his defense, arguing that Vicki Weaver’s killing and the endangerment of her child were perfectly justifiable.

Loving the children? If there is a genuine love for the children, how does the government explain its conduct for the past several years toward Iraq? Recall that the U.S. government went to war against Iraq without any declaration of war from Congress, a clear violation of the terms of the U.S. Constitution. And even though the shooting and bombing ended years ago, the U.S. government has continued to wage the war with an embargo against Iraq. The government has justified the embargo with its continued claim that “it is necessary to oust Saddam Hussein from office because he is the Adolf Hitler of our time.”

What has been the result? Has the embargo caused the ouster of Saddam? Of course not, no more than the 30-year American embargo on Cuba has resulted in the ouster of Fidel Castro. Instead, the people who have suffered from the American embargo have been the people of Iraq, and more specifically, the children of Iraq. Thousands of children are either dying or suffering from continued malnutrition as a direct result of the U.S. government’s embargo.

Yet, what is our government’s attitude about these deaths and sicknesses among the children of Iraq?

Well, it seems that the children of this nation simply are not very valuable. After all, they are foreigners, they are dark-skinned, and many of their parents have weird religious beliefs. So, what’s the big deal if lots of the children are dead or dying as a result of the embargo? The Iraqi people can always have more children. And if the Iraqi children really are that upset about dying or suffering from malnutrition, they can rally together and oust Saddam from office.

Is it fair for the U.S. government to kill Iraqi children in the hopes that they or their parents will oust Saddam? Well, would it be fair for Saddam to punish American citizens for failing to oust Bill Clinton from office? Many Americans would have loved to have seen Bill Clinton lose the last election but certainly have no power to oust him from office after his victory. Many Iraqis feel the same way about Saddam but also have no ability to oust him from office. Where is the moral justification in killing them or, even worse, killing their children to punish them for their failure to do so?

Consider America’s immigration policy. For decades, U.S. government officials have jailed Latin Americans for committing the heinous crime of looking for employment in America. The reason many of these immigrants risk their lives crossing the border and seeking employment is to send money back to their home countries to help feed their children. Yet, what is the attitude of government officials who “love the children”? Tough luck. Those children don’t matter. After all, they’re only Mexicans. Or only Salvadorans. Or only Nicaraguans. It’s not as though they were white-skinned, pure New Englanders or someone valuable like that. They’re only poor, brown Latin Americans, so if a few of them die by starvation or malnutrition, no big deal.

The truth is that the government’s purported love for the children is one great big sham. For most of this century, Democrats and Republicans have built up a monstrosity of a government with their beloved socialistic welfare state and regulated society. It has turned out to be a total failure in terms of improving people’s lives. Instead, this dysfunctional way of life has destroyed the hopes, dreams, and aspirations of multitudes of people.

Fortunately, more and more people are questioning the legitimacy of the government’s beloved wars on drugs, poverty, wealth, illiteracy, racism, guns, and immigrants. They are beginning to recognize the terrible, destructive aspects of the wars. And they are starting to suspect that the real reason for the wars is the tremendous financial and political benefits for politicians and bureaucrats. They are finally realizing that the paternalistic welfare state and regulated society have been a gigantic con.

Democrats and Republicans are realizing that it’s getting tougher and tougher to convince people to support the gigantic levels of taxation almost $2 trillion annually to support all of this junk. And they’re discovering that people don’t respond as well to old bromides such as “You hate the poor” and “You must be a racist.”

So, the final redoubt for maintaining and expanding the socialistic welfare state is “We love the children.” But unfortunately for American politicians and bureaucrats, the American people are certain to see through this scam as well. They will ultimately recognize that it’s not the children that government officials love. It’s the taxes, control, and plunder.

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    Jacob G. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation. He was born and raised in Laredo, Texas, and received his B.A. in economics from Virginia Military Institute and his law degree from the University of Texas. He was a trial attorney for twelve years in Texas. He also was an adjunct professor at the University of Dallas, where he taught law and economics. In 1987, Mr. Hornberger left the practice of law to become director of programs at the Foundation for Economic Education. He has advanced freedom and free markets on talk-radio stations all across the country as well as on Fox News’ Neil Cavuto and Greta van Susteren shows and he appeared as a regular commentator on Judge Andrew Napolitano’s show Freedom Watch. View these interviews at LewRockwell.com and from Full Context. Send him email.