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Hornberger's Blog is a daily libertarian blog written by Jacob G. Hornberger, founder and president of FFF.
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Conservative Hatred for America


The alleged attempt by that passenger to explode a bomb on that flight to Detroit confirms how much conservatives hate America. Oh, I’m not saying that conservatives don’t love their federal government. Of course they do. Everyone knows that. But that’s the problem. In the process of loving their government, they have a deeply seated antipathy against our country.

Think about angry conservatives get when anyone criticizes the federal government, especially in its operations overseas. Their reaction is always something along these lines: “I can’t understand why these critics hate their country. If they don’t like it here, why don’t they just leave it”? Since conservatives conflate the government and the country, they cannot fathom a mindset that not only separates the two but actually places the country over and above the government.

Or consider conservative outrage over flag-burning, which entails the fundamental right of people to do whatever they want to their own property (it’s their flag) and the fundamental right to protest. The reason that conservatives get outraged over such conduct is that they view the flag as emblematic of the federal government. After all, have you ever seen a conservative get angry or outraged over the burning of the Constitution or the Bill of Rights? Of course not, because conservatives think that burning things that express a distrust of government to be no big deal.

Now, a clarification is in order here. Actually, it’s not so much that conservatives love the entire federal government, it’s actually that they love the executive branch — that is, the ruler branch — the branch that dictates, orders, controls, invades, occupies, sanctions, embargoes, jails, tortures, fines, etc. — the branch that has the president, the military, the CIA, the DEA, the IRS, the bureaucrats, and the other people who employ force against others.

It’s in the executive branch of the federal government that conservatives place their faith and their trust. Thus, not surprisingly, they deeply resent not only criticism of the president, the troops, the CIA, and the other bureaucracies of the executive branch, but also criticism of restrictions on the power of such people.

It would be difficult to find a better example of conservative disdain for America and her founding documents — the Constitution and the Bill of Rights — than the Detroit bomb incident.

Under our system of justice, the man is presumed innocent of the crime that he is being accused of. What he is accused of is, in fact, a federal criminal offense, which is why a federal grand jury has already returned an indictment against him.

The presumption of innocence operates all the way until he is found guilty by a jury or judge in a trial.

And a trial is required before the man can be punished.

At that trial, he is entitled to an attorney to cross-examine witnesses, present witnesses, and make arguments on his behalf.

The judge at the trial is required to suppress or exclude illegally acquired evidence or incompetent evidence, even if that results in the freedom of the man.

Moreover, if the man is acquitted, the judge must release him, even if the prosecutors and everyone else is convinced that he really did commit the offense.

Like it or not, that’s our system of justice. That’s the system that our ancestors bequeathed to us in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Unfortunately, conservatives hate it, in large part because it serves as a restriction on the power of the president and the bureaucrats in the executive branch of government — the part of the government that they love. In their minds, the president, the prosecutors, the military, the CIA, and the bureaucracies should be given unfettered authority to do whatever they think is right for the country, and we should just place our faith in them. For conservatives, distrust of the president and his cohorts — the distrust implied in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights — is akin to heresy or even treason.

Consider why conservatives established their prison camp and military-tribunal system in Cuba rather than the United States. It wasn’t because they felt that terrorism wasn’t a federal criminal offense. That terrorism is a federal criminal offense is an undeniable fact. It is a federal criminal offense. That’s why people are indicted by federal grand juries for terrorism. It’s listed in the U.S. Code as a federal crime. No one can deny that.

So, conservatives established their prison camp and new-fangled military judicial system in Cuba not because they felt that terrorism was an act of war rather than a crime, it’s because they didn’t want federal officials to have to jack with the rights and guarantees in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights when going after people they were convinced were guilty of the crime of terrorism.

After all, don’t forget that the Pentagon isn’t treating its inmates at Guantanamo as warriors. It is, in fact, prosecuting them for the crime of terrorism. That’s what the military tribunals are all about. Their purpose is to provide a forum where accused terrorists can be brought to trial, albeit in a different manner than those indicted in the federal courts. The difference is that it’s the military doing the prosecuting before military tribunals rather than U.S. Attorneys doing so in U.S. District Courts.

Why Cuba? Because conservatives were sure that their camp and judicial system at Guantanamo Bay would be a Constitution-free zone, one in which the military could run a judicial system that punished terrorists without having to concern itself with what conservatives consider are the technical inanities in the Bill of Rights.

What better proof of conservative hatred for the Constitution and the Bill of Rights — and for America — than that?

The conservative dream at Guantanamo was omnipotent government, one in which there would be no restrictions whatsoever on the president, the military, and the CIA, to punish people who were accused of the federal crime of terrorism. It is a dream that conservatives have longed for here in the United States, especially in their decades-long war on drugs, where they have succeeded in carving out countless exceptions to the rights and guarantees in the Bill of Rights.

Look at how conservatives have responded to the grand-jury indictment of the Detroit suspect. They think it’s outrageous. After all, he’s obviously guilty, right? Everyone knows that he had explosive liquids on him, right? He tried to ignite the bomb, right? He confessed, or did he, and who cares anyway?

Who needs a stinking trial? String him up and hang him now.

But there’s just one big problem: Like it or not, that’s not our system of justice. That’s the system of justice in Burma, Cuba, or China. Here, no matter how convinced people are of the guilt of an accused, the government must nonetheless still go through the process of formally charging the person, prosecuting him, and securing a conviction with competent evidence that convinces a jury or judge beyond a reasonable doubt that the person truly has committed the offense. And that includes, by the way, bringing a chemist to trial to testify under oath that the liquid on the man was, in fact, an explosive material rather than water.

But conservatives don’t like it. They, in fact, hate it. “Turn him over to the military! Torture him into talking! Put him before a military tribunal and then execute him!” Just like they used to do in the Soviet Union.

Have you ever noticed how much conservatives resent libertarians? It’s partly because of the following fundamental differences that separate us:

Conservatives love the government and place their faith in it, causing them to hate restrictions on the government, such as those in the Bill of Rights, and to condemn people who criticize the government.

Libertarians, on other hand, love liberty and distrust the government, which causes them to support and defend the Constitution and the Bill of Rights and oftentimes induces them to defend the country against the government.

This post was written by:

Jacob G. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation. He was born and raised in Laredo, Texas, and received his B.A. in economics from Virginia Military Institute and his law degree from the University of Texas. He was a trial attorney for twelve years in Texas. He also was an adjunct professor at the University of Dallas, where he taught law and economics. In 1987, Mr. Hornberger left the practice of law to become director of programs at the Foundation for Economic Education. He has advanced freedom and free markets on talk-radio stations all across the country as well as on Fox News’ Neil Cavuto and Greta van Susteren shows and he appeared as a regular commentator on Judge Andrew Napolitano’s show Freedom Watch. View these interviews at LewRockwell.com and from Full Context. Send him email.