Friday, November 20, 2009

Tell me again what we're sending people to die for?

In the grand scheme of things this KSM trial dust up makes me more sad than angry but either way its yet another point of conservatism that I truly cannot process.

The talking points are basically covered here in Krauthammer's latest column. The underlying assumptions are two: that the court system is unable/unlikely/unwilling to handle the job and to avail KSM access to this shoddy unworkable system then conveys rights to him that he otherwise wouldn't have and in fact shouldn't have....


Let me take the last one first. This notion that the American government has the capacity to bequeath rights to individuals is one helluva statement for someone like Krauthammer to make, because unless Im mistaken the American Ideal is expressed in the belief that "We hold these truths be self evident, that all men are created equal, and endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights...". Including the Bad Guys.

To my mind this is the great achievement of America. Its why it exists, and its why its not just a lump of land we happen to have been born in but a noble and uplifting concept worth asking people to sacrifice their lives for, and to reassert that belief when faced with the worst of the worst, as this man undeniably is, strikes me as the strongest possible statement of confidence in our beliefs and the institutions we've built to embody those beliefs. To lack that confidence to this extent invites the question what do these people think America is.

But it is not terribly surprising that the conservative populists would be so disrespectful of our courts because they generally do not find them to be legitimate. In what is irony so deep that it makes me dizzy the one institution that exist EXPLICITLY to ensure that the government respects our "unalienable rights" is the very same institution conservatives disdain most. "Activist judges". "Discovered rights". These are smears leveled by people who actually don't believe in natural rights but in majoritarianism. So if you accept the notion, as conservatives do, that the courts are inherently at odds with the will of the people and that will is the final arbiter of all things then of course a criminal court is the wrong place to do this. Its just that this is a terribly unfortunate belief for an American to hold because in that respect it wastes his birthright.

Now this would just be another in an endless string of political arguments were it not for the fact that we have people fighting and dying right now to protect the freedoms that some among us do not have the courage to trust in times of hardship. But they are... and given that I think its fair to ask conservatives if they believe our soldiers are dying for America the plot of land or America the idea?

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