Freedom as Guarantor of Justice


Dinesh D’Souza suggested to Glenn Beck, as I drove to an appointment yesterday, that notions of justice tend to trump notions of freedom.  Prior to the United States, he said, people didn’t talk about which country had more freedom, but rather, which country had a more just king.  He argued that the American founders saw individual freedom as a guarantor of just government, not simply as a freestanding and obvious good.

Since the founding of our nation, technology has democratized opportunity and comprehension of the universe, but it is also empowering the forces of tyranny.  In this day when progressives are using any means necessary to tighten the noose around individual liberty, it’s critical that we remember this utilitarian argument for freedom as the firewall against injustice.

Glenn Reynolds suggests that we should all reread this 2012 article in Time, about the Obama campaigns use of data, in light of all that we’ve learned about NSA spying on Americans:

Exactly what that team of dozens of data crunchers was doing, however, was a closely held secret. “They are our nuclear codes,” campaign spokesman Ben LaBolt would say when asked about the efforts. Around the office, data-mining experiments were given mysterious code names such as Narwhal and Dreamcatcher. The team even worked at a remove from the rest of the campaign staff, setting up shop in a windowless room at the north end of the vast headquarters office. The “scientists” created regular briefings on their work for the President and top aides in the White House’s Roosevelt Room, but public details were in short supply as the campaign guarded what it believed to be its biggest institutional advantage over Mitt Romney’s campaign: its data.

It would make for an excellent project in the study of literature to rewrite that paragraph in the tone in which it would be presented if the Obama administration were Republican (or just a private for-profit business), or if it was about the propaganda efforts of some tyrant in history.  Step two is to identify the key elements and look at what’s being described objectively: The campaign to elect an incumbent president had a secretive branch housed in a separate area studying ways to manipulate the public and consulting with government officials in the headquarter’s of the nation’s executive branch.  Objectively, that’s terrifying.

Where does the government end and the campaign begin?  Where’s the seam between the two?  It isn’t unreasonable to think all that metadata swept up by the nation’s spy agencies might have found its way into the mix.

This is the beginning of the story, of course, not the end.  Consider also the IRS, not just its targeting of Tea Party groups, but also its involvement in rewriting ObamaCare, specifically the use of subsidies in state-based exchanges, for political reasons.  Kimberley Strassel is must read, on this:

Democrats needed those subsidies. The party had assumed that dangling subsidies before the states would induce them to set up exchanges. When dozens instead refused, the White House was faced with the prospect that citizens in 36 states—two-thirds of the country—would be exposed to the full cost of ObamaCare’s overpriced insurance. The backlash would have been horrific, potentially forcing Democrats to reopen the law, or even costing President Obama re-election.

The White House viewed it as imperative, therefore, that IRS bureaucrats ignore the law’s text and come up with a politically helpful rule. The evidence shows that career officials at the IRS did indeed do as Treasury Department and Health and Human Services Department officials told them. This, despite the fact that the IRS is supposed to be insulated from political meddling.

So now we’ve got a government spying on its people (happening to coincide with a political campaign that focused on data-driven manipulation), with the ruling party having forced through a massive, unread piece of ideological legislation without a drop of bipartisanship, in cooperation with administrative agencies adjusting the law as necessary to prevent a backlash and using its tax authority to suppress what grassroots backlash did spring up.

The list of such scandals goes on, practically throughout the entire federal government, and that’s even before getting into the president’s abuse and unconstitutional embellishment of his executive powers.

The language that community organizing manipulators like Obama use to justify their trampling of freedom is one of “social justice.” It’s a lie.  Without order and the rule of law, there can be no social justice.  Justice becomes the whim of the tyrant, to be defined as convenient for the powerful.  All it takes to become the targeted “other” that has no right to expect justice is to disagree with the political power.

Any news media organization or activist who is not calling out this administration — or just not reporting about it with an awareness of the larger implications — is no friend of either freedom or justice and ought to be treated as an enemy of those foundational principles evermore.  (Even if they find it convenient to rediscover them when an administration with which they disagree manages to take the White House.)