Survival Optional

by | Apr 29, 2009

It used to be said that self-preservation is the first law of nature. But much of what has been happening in recent times in the United States, and in Western civilization in general, suggests that survival is taking a back seat to the shibboleths of political correctness. We have already turned loose dozens of captured […]

It used to be said that self-preservation is the first law of nature. But much of what has been happening in recent times in the United States, and in Western civilization in general, suggests that survival is taking a back seat to the shibboleths of political correctness.

We have already turned loose dozens of captured terrorists, who have resumed their terrorism. Why? Because they have been given “rights” that exist neither in our laws nor under international law.

These are not criminals in our society, entitled to the protection of the Constitution of the United States. They are not prisoners of war entitled to the protection of the Geneva Convention.

There was a time when people who violated the rules of war were not entitled to turn around and claim the protection of those rules. German soldiers who put on U.S. military uniforms, in order to infiltrate American lines during the Battle of the Bulge, were simply lined up against a wall and shot.

Nobody even thought that this was a violation of the Geneva Convention. American authorities filmed the mass executions. Nobody dreamed up fictitious “rights” for these enemy combatants who had violated the rules of war. Nobody thought we had to prove that we were nicer than the Nazis by bending over backward.

Bending over backward is a very bad position from which to try to defend yourself. Nobody in those days confused bending over backward with “the rule of law,” as Barack Obama did recently. Bending over backward is the antithesis of the rule of law. It is depriving the people of the protection of their laws, in order to pander to mushy notions among the elite.

Even under the Geneva Convention, enemy soldiers have no right to be turned loose before the war is over. Terrorists– “militants” or “insurgents” for those of you who are squeamish– have declared open-ended war against America. It is open-ended in time and open-ended in methods, including beheadings of innocent civilians.

President Obama can ban the phrase “war on terror” but he cannot ban the terrorists’ war on us. That war continues, so there is no reason to turn terrorists loose before it ends. They chose to make it that kind of war. We don’t need to risk American lives to prove that we are nicer than they are.

Supreme Court justice Oliver Wendell Holmes said that law is not some “brooding omnipresence in the sky.” It is a set of explicit rules by which human beings structure their lives and their relationships with one another.

Those who choose to live outside those laws, whether terrorists or pirates, can be– and have been– shot on sight. Squeamishness is neither law nor morality. And moral exhibitionism is beneath contempt, when it sacrifices the safety of those who live within the law for the sake of self-satisfied preening, whether in editorial offices or in the White House.

As if it is not enough to turn cutthroats loose to cut throats again, we are now contemplating legal action against Americans who wrung information about international terrorist operations out of captured terrorists.

Does nobody think ahead to what this will mean– for many years to come– if people trying protect this country from terrorists have to worry about being put behind bars themselves? Do we need to have American intelligence agencies tip-toeing through the tulips when they deal with terrorists?

In his visit to CIA headquarters, President Obama pledged his support to the people working there and said that there would be no prosecutions of CIA agents for prior actions. Then he welshed on that in a matter of hours by leaving the door open for such prosecutions, which the left has been clamoring for, both inside and outside of Congress.

Repercussions extend far beyond issues of the day. It is bad enough that we have a glib and sophomoric narcissist in the White House. What is worse is that whole nations that rely on the United States for their security see how easily our president welshes on his commitments. So do other nations, including those with murderous intentions toward us, our children and grandchildren.

Thomas Sowell has published a large volume of writing. His dozen books, as well as numerous articles and essays, cover a wide range of topics, from classic economic theory to judicial activism, from civil rights to choosing the right college. Please contact your local newspaper editor if you want to read the THOMAS SOWELL column in your hometown paper.

The views expressed above represent those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the editors and publishers of Capitalism Magazine. Capitalism Magazine sometimes publishes articles we disagree with because we think the article provides information, or a contrasting point of view, that may be of value to our readers.

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