I celebrated Christmas yesterday with my family back home in South Carolina. While a seemingly innocuous event, my celebration of Christmas may come as a great shock to people like Dinesh D’Souza, because I am what you may call. . .a libertarian.
According to D’Souza, who recently blogged about Christopher Hitchens’ appearance at a Reason magazine Christmas event, "many libertarians are basically conservatives who are either gay or druggies or people who generally find the conservative moral agenda too restrictive." Because D’Souza believes libertarians embrace "much wider parameters of personal behavior," he sees most libertarians as hedonistic atheists, and uses a tipsy Hitchens as the chief example of our disdain for morality.
As a devout Southern Baptist, I was taken aback. After all, I am neither gay nor a drug user, and consider myself to be very socially conservative. But such petty stereotypes demonstrate that the accuser has either a very tenuous understanding of the libertarian philosophy or is just stupid. In D’Souza’s case, I would hope it is merely the first.
D’Souza’s view of freedom and humanity is incredibly pessimistic. Not only this, but it contradicts both the values of his own religious faith and the founding philosophy of the United States–two things that D’Souza supposedly champions. Both Christianity and the founding philosophy of the United States teaches that all men should be free, and the choices they make should be of their own volition. However, D’Souza seems to believe that freedom begets immorality, and it should be the role of the state to define moral conduct.
For me as a Southern Baptist, I saw the Libertarian Party as the only political party committed to the basic principles of my faith, and D’Souza could learn a lot from my experiences with it. Unlike the Republican Party, which has been overrun by those who wish to impose their concept of morality on all people by way of legislation, the Libertarian Party believes that all people should be free to live how they choose by the rules they set for themselves (with the caveat that they do so without causing harm to others).
People like D’Souza see the Libertarian Party’s social tolerance as an endorsement of what he would see as negative behavior, rather than an endorsement of the principle of liberty, which leaves the individual free to live how he chooses. This is a very serious misinterpretation, and one that can lead to foolish generalizations such as the one D’Souza made last week. The Libertarian Party promotes no moral code other than that people should live in freedom and do no harm to others.
But if D’Souza believes that liberty and morality are mutually exclusive ideals, then he can neither fully believe in the American values he supports, nor the Christian principle of free will. You can be both a Christian and a libertarian, as I clearly am. And if you’re not, well, that’s perfectly okay with the Libertarian Party too.
By and large, libertarians are peace-loving individuals who simply want to be free from government. These people are pastors, police officers, doctors, lawyers, mechanics, school teachers, college students, business men and anyone else who believes in limited government, fewer taxes and more individual freedom. It is safe to say that most Americans are libertarian at heart–be them gay, straight, Christian or atheist.
That’s the unifying magic of liberty.
We challenge D’Souza to rescind his simplistic generalization of libertarians, and ask him not to make broad assessments of topics he doesn’t fully understand.