We always must judge the source, as well as the content, of political writings, especially those that seek to warn us of threats. It is far too easy to exaggerate the danger, AND the probability, of something coming after us or those whom we cherish.
But at the same time, just because it hasn’t happened yet is no reason to completely ignore warnings of danger. We always face hazards, and must act (just to live our lives) while taking risks to us and others into account.
This is true, as we know, in everyday life: do I travel in this snow on icy, windy roads? Do I risk tearing off that old roof to replace it despite the forecast? Do I burn that pile of weeds today or hope the wind will be less tomorrow? Do I go ahead and get that shot, with its risks, or NOT get the vaccine and risk something differently?
But when it comes to political threats and threats of violence and other aggression against us because of our skin color, our heritage, or our political views? We find it much harder to accurately assess the risks, to clearly identify the hazards.
James Bovard has recently penned a warning that the Feds are after libertarians.
He ends with this:
“The answer is not to shut up and sure as h*** not to cease fighting for your rights and liberties. Friends of freedom need to continue valiantly and peacefully championing their ideas. At some point, more Americans will finally recognize the folly of permitting politicians and government agents to capture vast unchecked power over everyone else. In the meantime, prudent libertarians will avoid writing anything in an email that they don’t want to hear read out loud in federal court.”
He makes a lot of valid points in the column, and I suggest reading it and thinking about it. Those of us who are really low-key (like The Price of Liberty) may not be as likely to become a specific target of the Feds. Or even of State authorities. But it is still essential – critical! – that we consider the hazards and the risks we take as we speak up for liberty and condemn tyranny in all its flavors.
But is he over the top? Too many times, we exaggerate the dangers, to make a point, to encourage people to respond and act, and even to promote our work. We see that constantly in the things we hear from the professional “pro-gun” people. Whether it is the compromising and constantly-self-promoting NRA or groups like Gun Owners of America and local 2nd Amendment groups, there is the temptation to magnify things with screaming headlines and provocative writing. Mama Liberty and all of us with The Price of Liberty have been as guilty of this as others in the past.
It is a fine line, and we must constantly re-examine ourselves to see if we have strayed across it.
If we don’t, what can happen?
First, we desensitize ourselves, our readers/viewers and even the public. Mainstream Media has done that “successfully” for generations.
Second, we play loose games with the truth and can lose sight of what is really true. We come to believe our own claims, our own propaganda.
Third, we give free rein to emotionalism. There is nothing wrong with being emotional about things: being passionate FOR liberty and AGAINST tyranny. But when emotions rule, people can do stupid things and lose track of what really needs to be done – and should be done.
Fourth, we encourage others to panic and exaggerate. Especially politicians, bureaucrats, cops and the large segment of the public who is too emotional and has already been terrified by government and the media.
While I do not think that Mr. Bovard IS over-reacting and exaggerating the menace, his timely warning lets us discuss this, and helps us remember to assess the hazards and recognize the risks we face. And act and react in a way that will accomplish our goals.