Jonah Goldberg

At their recent convention, the Democrats rolled out a video proclaiming that government is "the one thing we all belong to." This, to me, is pernicious nonsense. The government belongs to us, not the other way around.

But that is an argument for another time.

What got me thinking about all of this is the recent effort from various Muslim leaders at the United Nations lecturing us about free expression. Leaders who abuse and torture their own citizens for expressing their ideas or faith seem to think they have standing to lecture us about the limits of freedom.

Well, the tribe of barbarism doesn't get to lecture the tribe of liberty about what freedom means. A few years ago, Dinesh D'Souza wrote a book, "The Enemy at Home," in which he argued that American conservatives and Muslim conservatives should find common cause against liberals and leftists. The book was predictably denounced by liberals, but it was also rejected by conservatives.

Why? One reason, I think, is that whatever our differences with American liberals may be, conservatives understand that our argument with them is still within the family. The fighting is intense, but we're all trying to figure out what it means to live in the country bequeathed to us by the American Revolution and the Enlightenment.

Well, the thugs haranguing us about the proper limits of free expression aren't members of that tribe. They haven't paid the dues.

Because the moral superiority of liberty is irrefutable, totalitarians often feel the need to wrap barbarism in the language of freedom. (For example, North Korea calls itself the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.) Similarly, the Muslim Brotherhood stooge running Egypt doesn't care about free speech or tolerance; he cares about his own theocratic will to power -- and making Americans grovel.

There are more practical reasons not to hold our liberties hostage to the bloodlust of a foreign mob, but underneath them all is the instinctual tribal refusal to let marauders tear down what we've built.

Jonah Goldberg

Jonah Goldberg is editor-at-large of National Review Online,and the author of the book The Tyranny of Clichés. You can reach him via Twitter @JonahNRO.
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