Some vs. They
by James A. Landrith, Jr.
Originally published in Rational Review
I've been having some interesting exchanges with a few "libertarians" in one of the MySpace libertarian forums. Below are my own thoughts on the riots and violence related to the Danish editorials cartoons that have been exploited by a select group of opportunistic Imams for the purpose of inciting anger, hatred and chaos.
Do I condemn the cartoon riots and attempts to squelch free speech? What about the despotic regimes in several Islamic dominated nations who trample on the rights of their citizens and commit horrible human rights and civil liberties abuses? Of course, I am an adherent to the Zero Aggression Principle. That goes without saying. However, some bigoted and narrow-minded individuals are seizing on the riots as an excuse to make sweeping generalizations about Muslims as a whole.
I have been informed that rejecting generalizations is simplistic on my behalf. Or at least when it comes to Muslims, because they don't deserve the same considerations granted other human beings. Some little piggies are more equal than other little piggies, don't you know.
Am I being "simplistic" for rejecting generalizations about a diverse and large population of individuals on the basis of the actions of some members of the same religion? Or is the problem a specific set of simplistic "libertarians" who don't know the difference between 1.6 billion Muslims and a few thousand or so rioters? Seems pretty simplistic indeed. Perhaps I am unusual, but I can count. The problem is "libertarians" who have chosen to strip an entire demographic of individuals of their individuality on the basis of what SOME of those individuals have done. And this is a libertarian trait?
How many of the 1.6 billion Muslim individuals were involved in the riots? Is there enough room in those cities for such a large number? How many are members of Al Qaeda? How many flew airplanes into buildings? Or is group guilt always okay when it comes to the members of one particular religion, regardless of the diversity of thought, geography, education, and other differences within said religion?
Is it simplistic to point out the problem with assigning group guilt to over a billion and a half people on the basis of what a statistically small number of individuals have done? Are some of my fellow "libertarians" so incapable of rational thought when the word Muslim is attached to a topic that they are not able to see the difference between a few thousand rioters vs. 1.6 billion individuals?
The choice of words by some "libertarians" are interesting. For instance, constantly referring to Muslims in general as "they" and then assigning collective guilt to "they" for actions committed by specific individuals or small groups. "They" didn't burn Danish missions. Specific individual Muslims burned Danish missions. "They" didn't fly planes into the World Trade Center towers. Specific individual Muslims flew planes into the World Trade Center towers. It is fascinating to me that some of my fellow "libertarians" are so eager to engage in gross generalizations, rather than see the distinction between thousands of SOME vs. 1.6 billion of THEY.
I sure see the distinction. It isn't hidden. And it isn't complicated. Why are there suddenly special rules that require Muslims to be treated as less than worthy of the same individuality granted other human beings? Of course, not being prone to promoting simplistic generalizations I see 1.6 billion individuals, some of whom suffer from group-think, and some who don't. Some who live in despotic regimes and some who don't. Some who have poor educations, some who don't. Some who live in the Middle East, and some who don't. Some who subscribe to violence and hatred and some who don't.
Call me "simplistic" if it makes you feel better, but I just don't promote group guilt or assign blame to 1.6 billion individuals on the basis of the actions of a small group of individuals. Should all members of the United States military be blamed for the actions of those who lost their military bearing and violated Geneva Convention restrictions at Abu Ghraib? If we apply the logic of some "libertarians", surely so. Should we label all men rapists on the basis that some of them are? If we apply the group blame philosophy presented by some "libertarians", yes we should. Shall we affix the designation of child molester to all priests on the basis that some of them have been identified as such? Sure, that is the logic of generalizations that strip whole classes of humanity of their individuality, relegating them to a status lower than that of the person making the generalization.
And that is usually the whole point.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
James Landrith is founder of Pious Pagan Publishing, home of The Multiracial Activist, The Abolitionist Examiner and other publications. He is a U.S. Marine Corps veteran, member of multiple civil liberties coalitions, blogger, college student, husband and father of two knuckleheaded boys.