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The Complicity of Silence

ARI Watch  focuses on the negative at ARI yet some of what ARI publishes is unobjectionable, read in isolation from the rest. For example ARI once issued an Op-Ed by Alex Epstein entitled  “What to Do About Gasoline Prices”  which denounced government price controls on gasoline. Here Mr. Epstein is correct, all of us ought to favor the freedom of oil companies to market their product as they wish.

But think of the inconsistency of addressing one injustice while ignoring a raft of far worse injustices. ARI took the trouble to advocate freedom for oil companies yet remained silent a few months later when Alberto Gonzales, the Attorney General of the United States, proclaimed:  “There is no expressed grant of habeas [corpus] in the Constitution.”  In other words, in spite of Article I, Section 9 and the Bill of Rights, Gonzales believes that the Administration at its whim can legally lock anyone up indefinitely, incommunicado, without charge or trial.

ARI, in all their many publications, said nothing about this infamous remark. Ignoring Gonzales while worrying over price controls on gasoline, or (as in other ARI articles) the virtue of Thanksgiving Day and the meaning of New Years resolutions, is like a doctor bandaging a patient’s finger while blood gushes from a gash through his jugular. You begin to doubt the doctor’s medical competence, or his sincerity in helping the patient.

The folks at ARI remain silent about Gonzales, and about every part of the Patriot Act, Military Commissions Act, Martial Law Act, Real ID Act, the National Defense Authorization Act, the gradual federalization of local police departments, the rampant corruption in the federal judiciary, and many other aspects of creeping tyranny in America.

Like the doctor slashing the patient’s throat himself, ARI actively promoted the worst outrages of the Bush Administration, such as institutionalized torture. Then, in concert with the Neocons, they beat the drum for another foreign escapade, this time the invasion of Iran. Mr. Epstein’s gasoline article amounts to window-dressing while the folks at ARI busy themselves with this their main effort, relentless propaganda for an Iran War. It exactly matches their propaganda for the Iraq War.

Not long ago the legislature of the state of Maine, in an almost unanimous vote, urged the repeal of the Real ID Act, the federal law that will eventually change state drivers licenses from a de facto federal ID into a de jure one, the capstone for an internal federal passport. Many other states – even if they seem more concerned with the difficulties of the implementation rather than the aim – have passed resolutions opposing the Act. Some state politicians are even urging that their state defy the law. Hundreds of city counsels all across the country – and here the violation of civil liberties is their primary concern – have passed resolutions condemning the Patriot Acts. Where is the praise for this grassroots opposition at ARI? You won’t find it, not even as window-dressing.

The doctor cares nothing about the patient as he feebly tries to rally. The folks at ARI haven’t a clue what good there is still left in America or how America has gone dreadfully wrong. They can spout fine sounding Objectivist generalities by the kilobyte, but they twist them so that the overall effect is to fool people into giving in to a Soviet-like agenda.

To be sure this effect is not consciously intended. One may doubt they ever sat at their boardroom table gleefully rubbing their hands, saying to one another:  “We really pulled a fast one with that Op-Ed by Ridpath. Think of it, using George Washington to fool the rubes! And Alex, you really dished it out with that support our troops crap. ... Yaron, your “torture helps defend America” – just precious. ... And Andy, tell us again how the virtuous  die for freedom around the world  [all laugh].  Well, I see Congress passed the Military Commissions Act, a fine piece of work, but let’s keep that to ourselves shall we?”  No, doubtless they really believe, on some level, the stuff they write, in pathological self-deception.

We can only conjecture what lies behind this perversity. Considering that ARI’s website is riddled with gratuitous support for Israel (“We are All Israelis Now” etc.), and that much of the immolation of America which ARI advocates helps Israel, certainly Israel-worship is suspect. Whatever the reason:  ARI fails to speak out against the latest police state measures, and sometimes actively supports them, even as it claims to be a defender of human rights.