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February 14, 2018

SINCE WHEN ARE LIBERTARIANS PRO-“TERROR” AND AGAINST “FAIR PLAY”?  How the Right Co-Opts Frederick Douglass.

Yale History Professor David Blight:

[Frederick] Douglass did preach self-reliance for his fellow blacks: He argued that the freed slaves should be given their rights, protected and then “let alone.” But he never employed that “let alone” dictum without also demanding “fair play,” and security against terror and discrimination. Conservatives have cherry-picked his words to advance their narrow visions of libertarianism.

Put this in the ongoing series of liberal academics who don’t understand libertarianism writing critiques of it. Among other things, Blight confuses “individualism,” i.e., favoring freedom of action for individuals over collective or state control, with being unconcerned with the welfare of the community. Hopefully, though, the op-ed will spark interest in Tim Sandefur’s new biography of Douglass, which inspired Blight’s rant.