On Friday, January 3, radio talk show host Mike Gallagher charged NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden with being a “traitor” while accusing those of his conservative minded listeners who disagreed with thinking like leftists.
Self-avowed “conservatives,” like Gallagher, are, at best, morally confused. At worst, they’re intellectually dishonest. Either way, whether they realize it or not, they are accomplices to the left’s efforts to “fundamentally transform” Western culture.
Regardless of one’s opinions of Snowden the man, the fact remains that he succeeded in calling the nation’s attention to a massive government surveillance program to which most Americans would have otherwise remained oblivious, a program that enables the government to collect information on citizens while bypassing the Fourth Amendment. That this gargantuan apparatus—the emblem par excellence of just the sort of omnipotent government that our Founding Fathers envisioned with dread, just the sort of liberty-crushing central authority that the Constitution was ratified to preclude—exists, ostensibly, for “our own good,” is neither here nor there.
That it exists is, or at least should be, troubling enough for any lover of liberty.
Even if, per impossible, the NSA never abused its awesome powers, even if it had a perfect track record of thwarting terrorist attacks, that it could deploy its resources to violate the privacy of American citizens is alone sufficient to paralyze the liberty lover with the fear that his government has betrayed the dream and promise of his forefathers.
The true lover of liberty knows that of which the Framers of the Constitution needed no reminding: there is no such thing as liberty.
There are only liberties.
Moreover, these liberties are but the flip side of the duties that our Constitution imposes upon the government—the federal, as opposed to a national, government.
By way of its many “checks and balances,” the Constitution of the United States codifies a complex set of political arrangements that severely limits both the authority and the power of the government. Its Bill of Rights was intended to further immunize the citizen against potential abuses of his government.
Interestingly, it is Gallagher and company, not their conservative rivals, who are guilty of allying with the left.
Jack Kerwick received his doctoral degree in philosophy from Temple University. His area of specialization is ethics and political philosophy. He is a professor of philosophy at several colleges and universities in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Jack blogs at Beliefnet.com: At the Intersection of Faith & Culture. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or friend him on facebook. You can also follow him on twitter.