WSJ Edit Page: Immigration Si – Americans` Rights No!


If Americans have learned nothing
else from the Sept. 11 attacks, they should at least
learn what the priorities of the dominant political
class are. Ever since the attack, the spokesmen for that
class have exploited it to push for immense increases in
the size and scope of federal power and the federal
government—to the gain of the class that manages and
directs the vast labyrinth of the federal leviathan.

Some government enlargement may be
necessary for countering terrorism on a temporary basis,
but some champions of the state want to go further. It`s
ironic that the Wall Street Journal

editorial page,
which poses as

libertarian
, last week ran one of the most outspoken
endorsements of state power yet written.

The article, by writer and
historian Jay Winik, is titled,

"Security Comes Before Liberty,"
which in fact is
true, though rather ominous to announce. Mainly what Mr.
Winik does is dredge up every violation of personal
freedom in

American history
in previous "emergencies"—and use
it as precedent for violating more freedom.

His heroes are three major American
presidents—Abraham
Lincoln
,

Woodrow Wilson
, and

Franklin D. Roosevelt
—each of whom used the federal
government to silence critics, intimidate opponents and
re-enforce his own power. At the best, some of their
actions might have been necessary, but most Americans
would prefer to forget them rather than cite them as
justifications for current and future policy.

Lincoln, for example, suspended
habeas corpus
and ignored the

ruling
of Chief Justice

Roger Taney
that his action was unconstitutional.
"To enforce this decree, a network of provost marshals
promptly imprisoned several hundred anti-war activists
and draft resisters, including five newspaper editors,
three judges, a number of doctors, lawyers, journalists
and prominent civic leaders." Lincoln also used troops
to prevent the sitting of the Maryland state legislature
when it looked like it was about to secede and locked up
a congressman who criticized the war.

Wilson also led the campaign to
smother dissent during World War I. "All dissent became
suspect: There were continual spy scares, witch hunts
and even kangaroo courts that imposed harsh sentences of
actual tar and feathering…. People were regularly
hauled into court for as little as criticizing the Red
Cross or questioning war financing, and the mail was
summarily closed to publications that espoused socialism
or feminism or displayed an anti-British bias."

Franklin Roosevelt is most notorious for authorizing the
internment of Japanese-Americans, but he also used the
FBI and the Justice Department to hound opponents of
interventionism like the

America First Committee
and its leaders. He tried to
prosecute the Chicago Tribune because it
published leaked documents about his own war plans, and
a large group of so-called "seditionists" were put on
trial at the end of the war—until the judge threw the
case out in disgust.

Mr. Winik is dead right and then
some about all these presidents—who happen to be the

major icons of American liberalism
. But unlike most
of the historians who ignore or try to excuse their
actions, he glories in them and looks forward to similar
measures in the future. The Bush administration`s
measures so far "pale in comparison to what previous
wartime administrations have imposed," and "If, as we
get thicker into this grim conflict, the administration
deems it necessary to enact more restrictive steps, we
need not fear. When our nation is again secure, so too
will be our principles." Just how "restrictive" Mr.
Winik is prepared to be is suggested by his rather
gleeful account of the torture of a terrorist suspect by
the Philippine police in 1995.

Mr. Winik is perfectly comfortable
in his belief that "our principles" will remain secure
despite blatant and massive violation by the
authoritarian state he advocates because "there was
little long-term or corrosive effect on society" from
the violations his three heroes imposed. The point is
that the "corrosive effect," aside from the illegal and
unconstitutional acts themselves, consists in their use
as precedents by later political leaders. It`s no
accident that every one of Mr. Winik`s heroes not only
trampled on civil liberties at his pleasure but also was
a chief architect of the bloated monstrosity that
dominates Washington and the nation today.

It`s revealing that the Wall
Street Journal
should publish Mr. Winik`s apology
for tyranny. Not only does it expose the phoniness of
the paper`s libertarianism but also it tells us

whose liberties
the Journal`s editorial page
values most. Not once since Sept. 11 has the Journal
suggested or endorsed the slightest

reduction in immigration
or any tightening of
security procedures for

visas
. In the

bizarre world
of the Wall Street Journal,
immigration and the rights of immigrants are

inviolable
; it`s only the

U.S. Constitution
and the rights of Americans that
are happily expendable.

COPYRIGHT 2001 CREATORS
SYNDICATE, INC.

October 29,
2001