Defining Libertarianism Down

Steven Chapman – a Big-L Libertarian I’ve always respected – has jumped the shark. Read what he has to say about Britain’s promise to expel “preachers of hate”:


The problem with Blair’s program is not that he wants to crack down on terrorist activity undertaken by imported radicals. Violence and other forms of criminality deserve vigorous prosecution and punishment. But his plan goes beyond targeting terrorist acts to penalizing forbidden thoughts and words. Just venturing into a radical bookstore could get you the boot.

If a radical Islamic leader is recruiting suicide bombers, helping them plan their crimes or inciting them to kill people, he shouldn’t be deported — he should be convicted and locked up. Blair, however, wants to expel anyone who merely expresses ideas that might conceivably be dangerous.

In case Chapman hadn’t read it the paper he works for, the UK is at war. She’s in a new kind of war – where the parameters have expanded to include civilians. Civilians who hide behind their rights, while calling for the abolition of those very rights. Civilians who, in the case of Abu Qatada, aren’t even subjects of the Queen (or “citizens” as we call them in the US).


No nation at war has any duty to respect the rights of enemy nationals. When the parameters of war have expanded to non-nation state actors like al Qaeda, then the definition of “enemy national” must be extended to those, like Qatada, who declare themselves our enemies by the company they keep and the words they speak.

Tony Blair has no need to wait for them to act. During war, words are enough. During war, even words aren’t needed before taking action. Enemy-national civilians may be deported or locked up, for any reason, period.

Chapman argues that “shutting up a few radical preachers won’t silence their ideas.” True enough. But what Chapman doesn’t say is why Britain should continue to play the lavish host to rude houseguests.

UPDATE: QandO performed a full-frontal fisking on Chapman’s piece. Read it.


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