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In Defense of Liberty

Senator Barry Goldwater, accepting the Republican presidential nomination in 1964:

    I would remind you that extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice. Let me remind you also that moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue.

Malcolm X, speaking at the first public rally of the Organization of African American Unity, 1964:

    We want freedom by any means necessary. We want justice by any means necessary. We want equality by any means necessary.

What’s interesting is that even though these quotes have an identical literal meaning, what the two men are thinking when they say “freedom” or “liberty” is as different (pun intended?) as black and white. For Barry Goldwater, “liberty” is the struggle of capitalism against communism, while for Malcolm X, “freedom” is the struggle of Black nationalism against imperialism, both in Africa and within the U.S.

John Pilger’s new documentary The War on Democracy (thanks Hisham!) chronicles the Latin American freedom struggles of the last half century, and the efforts by the U.S. government to stamp them out. While Malcolm X would surely have endorsed these struggles, my guess is that Barry Goldwater would have supported the military men who put down these struggles.

Which goes to show that one man’s liberty is another man’s tyranny, and one man’s freedom is another man’s mob rule.

Comments

Comment from 99
Time: October 2, 2007, 21:07

In that case, you’re going to love FREEDOM 101, another rx2008 masterpiece….

Comment from eatbees
Time: October 3, 2007, 15:03

So this is the guy who got Bush to sing Sunday, Bloody Sunday? I had that on my blog a while back, but I never knew who made it. Thanks for the link!

rx2008’s mashup shows six of the great political figures of the 1960s speaking about freedom, Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, Jack Kennedy, Bobby Kennedy, Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan. The first four were progressives killed by gunfire, and the last two were conservatives who lived long and prosperous lives! Coincidence?

I recommend this to anyone for MLK’s “promised land” riff towards the end, where he compares himself to Moses, as if knowing he would soon be assassinated—which happened THE NEXT DAY.

“There are some things so dear, some things so precious, some things so eternally true that they are worth dying for. … A man dies when he refuses to stand up for that which is right. A man dies when he refuses to stand up for justice. … Like anybody I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place, but I’m not concerned about that now. I just want to do God’s will.”

Comment from yunir
Time: October 4, 2007, 08:24

Those in power fight to remain in power.

Those w/o power fight to take away power from the powerful.

Comment from Hisham
Time: October 4, 2007, 15:02

You’re completely spot on!
I don’t know if you’ve already watched a notorious irreverent program on French TV (Groland on Canal+) where the anchor always ends the show by this phrase, which became a mantra amongst (“serious “) political commentators each time they smell a canard in politicians’ speeches:
BEWARE OF CONTERFEIT! (mefiez vous des contrefaçons!)

Comment from Georg
Time: October 7, 2007, 04:11

Hi Beezy,

When someone more or less official states his aims, I am always asking myself “what does he wants for himself”?

So many of our leaders or “would be leaders” had splendid ideas and what came out of it when they succeded in their venture?

My personal idea is – you are not obliged to share – that those two chappies would have made splendidly ruthless self-serving bosses with bank accounts scattered around the globe in case of success.

Georg

Comment from yunir
Time: October 12, 2007, 13:25

Happy Eid ul-Fitr!

Comment from eatbees
Time: October 12, 2007, 16:03

@yunir — Eid Mubarak to you too, and to everyone else out there celebrating the end of Ramadan!

Sorry, everyone, that I haven’t posted anything for a while, but lately I’ve been feeling sickened about the march of American empire, the Blackwater scandal in Iraq, the capitulation of Congress regarding warrantless surveillance, Hillary’s vote for confrontation with Iran, the crackdown on journalists in Egypt, and the general powerless of all of us to do anything but complain… so I decided to take a step back and wait until I have something positive to say.

I’ll be back soon with some new posts. Meanwhile, congratulations to Al Gore for winning the Nobel Peace Prize!

Comment from Hisham
Time: October 14, 2007, 15:47

Dennis Kucinich / Al Gore
we can always dream aren’t we?

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