In trying to again refine some empirical values of liberalism, I was again struck by the notion that liberals regard the federal government as the dominant expression of the people much more than other American groups do. Libertarians, and to a lesser extent conservatives, regard the government as a tool for doing the business of keeping everything going smoothly and fairly. It is inanimate. Liberals, especially the Religious Left, see government in anthropomorphic terms. The "Not In Our Name" campaign described a government that speaks on behalf of the people; there is much more concern about how we "appear" to other nations, rather than the practical result of government actions -- to the point that they believe a proper appearance or attitude expressed by our government will solve many of our international problems; the UN, much more loved by liberals than others, is assumed to be the main way for the peoples of the world to work together, with government acting as embodiment of each people. . .Well said; I agree. Still, to the extent government is the expression of the will of the people -- and America uniquely represents a positive force for good -- I can't miss the opportunity to quote from Josh Chafetz's 2003 essay "In My Name":
As I noted, this is even more pronounced on the religious left. How "we" treat the poor or the least among us is conceived first as how the government treats them, as if the government were a person. It seems rather Old World -- monarchist, aristocratic, with largely European ideas of the nation-state. . .
All in all, an odd disguised nationalism, that sees government as a person, our representative in the (heh) Family of Nations; a parent who watches over the children and is responsible for them.
The rallying cry of those who opposed war in Iraq has been "Not in My Name." They sought to wash their hands of the war, to abdicate moral responsibility for its consequences. Fair enough. But I have been arguing the necessity of this war for some time now. So let me now talk about my moral responsibility.AVI is right that morality resides with the individual, not the state. But, to the extent we put nations and multilateral institutions in the balance, I'll take America any day.
In my name, statues of a tyrant have been cast down, portraits of a tyrant have been stomped upon, and fear of a tyrant has dissipated. In my name, the courageous men and women of our coalition armed forces have largely been welcomed as liberators, not invaders. In my name, the residents of Baghdad shouted thank yous, "Good, George Bush!" and "Down Saddam!" to coalition troops. In my name, a Baghdad imam told a reporter, "I'm 49, but I never lived a single day. Only now will I start living. That Saddam Hussein is a murderer and a criminal."
In my name, the gates to a children's prison were thrown open, and kids whose only crime was that they refused to join Saddam's youth groups were free to go home to their families. Torture chambers have been discovered and shut down throughout the country. Political prisoners have been freed.
In my name, the al Qaeda-linked group Ansar al-Islam has been wiped from the face of the earth, with the help of our brave Kurdish allies. The Kurds no longer live in fear of being attacked with weapons of mass destruction, and those who have ordered such attacks in the past are either dead or in hiding. In my name, the ones who survive will be brought to justice.