Jewish World Review Nov. 13, 2001/ 27 Mar-Cheshvan, 5762

Marianne M. Jennings

Marianne M. Jennings
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You can never find a lib when you need one -- HOWARD FINEMAN of Newsweek and liberal mind, confesses that employing torture against the al-Qaeda/ bin Laden crowd is not a bad idea. Alan Dershowitz, defender of the guilty, agrees, if probable cause and a judge are involved pre-torture.

When he isn't calling for torture with a warrant, Mr. Dershowitz demands national ID cards. He who damned sexual McCarthyism during l'affair Monica now favors human tracking.

Democrats are offering up unanimous consent for expanded FBI wiretapping. The Justice Department now listens to lawyers' conversations with clients in custody.

Those in the business of rights, privacy, and generic excuse-making for criminals have jumped ship. You can never find a liberal when you need one. When the going gets tough, the liberals run for cover.

During World War II, Bob Hope took himself and a bevy of beauties to the front lines. Betty Grable and her gambs visited the troops. Today, Hollywood liberals hire extra security and hide out on Malibu's cliffs. Jennifer Aniston flaked out on a charity event, fearful that radical Muslims' might succeed in their strategic goal of Hollywood brain trust annihilation.

Liberals were out in full force for Andrea Yates. NBC's Katie Couric did a little fundraising for Yates' defense fund on the Today Show for post-partum sufferers everywhere. But women drowning children are no threat to Berkeley or Ann Arbor. Terrorism hits home. Air travel, the media and Democrats' mail are targets. Nary a frightened liberal eyebrow rises to protest as their nemesis, John Ashcroft, asks for all but the funding for rubber hoses and hotter interrogation lights.

Liberal icon Thurgood Marshall wrote, "grave threats to liberty often come in times of urgency, when constitutional rights seem too extravagant to endure." I urge my liberal friends to remember their principles and endure.

However, the difference between what have been their relatively benign but intellectually fashionable principles and the principles of conviction is that the latter apply even when it hurts. A conservative's fear is the loss of freedom, not the loss of life. Liberals have a non-believing sinner's fear of death. This Shermanesque march over the Bill of Rights is fueled by cowardice. Conservatives are of little help, having joined their comrades in totalitarianism without a peep as they flee from anthrax.

When terrorist networks are curbed, an inevitability despite media hand wringing, we will regret this infringement of rights. Conservatives only asked the Warren court for the right to use confessions spewed by the guilty before they realize Dershowitz is available. We never asked for jailhouse eavesdropping and ubiquitous wiretaps.

ID cards are an awful idea. Ronald Reagan's response to this ID idea during one of its many iterations was, "Maybe we should just brand all the babies."

An FBI with unchecked powers is an idea whose time should never come. Society would be a better place if we eavesdropped on all lawyers' conversations. Society would be perfect if we tortured lawyers. But both trample rights. Eavesdropping on jailhouse conversations is wrong, even between a lawyer and a client of Arab lineage who has taken crop dusting lessons and has a penchant for powdered donuts.

What is most irksome about these constitutional tramplings is that liberal convictions remain selectively active. The Fourth Amendment is fair game because the liberal mind won't touch immigration. Halting all Arab pedigree entries would put a big dent in terrorism here. Place a curb on all immigration and we might lick the welfare state issue too. Rather than face such an offense to diversity, liberals gut the constitution. Even Mr. Bush is too gracious in this regard.

The prickly part of principles is standing firm when your hide is tanned. Taking away rights to solve unspeakable crimes and prevent more sounds mighty tempting. However, the price of living in a free society is that, on occasion, both domestic and foreign nuts wreak havoc. No amount of homeland security can curb the deviants. There can never be guarantees. But, the liberal mind, accustomed to punitive damages for life's accidents and a Consumer Product Safety Commission that recalls Barbies with defective tube tops, cannot accept risk.

Instead, they turn a free nation of stalwarts into sheep that accept daily advances by a wolf that will destroy the magnificent constitutional barriers that cost as many of our citizens their lives in the American Revolution as in the September 11 attacks. Too much is taken too quickly with too little dissent.

The inevitable next attack is a frightening prospect, but its possibility is not as worrisome as the damage to the Constitution. The FBI tapping into the Internet with Carnivore is the end of privacy. Torture is the stuff of rogue nations. We are a better people and nation than this. Please, could just a few liberals, who more than self their country love, and a few conservatives, who know that our liberty is in law, join me in these convictions?

JWR contributor Marianne M. Jennings is a professor of legal and ethical studies at Arizona State University. Send your comments by clicking here.


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10/12/01: Of human nature and monsters
10/05/01: Sensitive man
10/01/01: Post-September 11 security
09/20/01: No tinhorn terrorists can frighten us
09/06/01: If there is no honor in youth sports, it is because of the adults
08/27/01: The draw of Condit
08/23/01: Lowering expectations and flying high
08/17/01: Thoreau, Walden and stems cells
08/13/01: Our masters: The animals
07/30/01: When principle hits too close to home
07/13/01: Rage born of sublimation
07/06/01: Patient's rights and the Valley of Death
06/29/01: There is no excuse
06/21/01: I want an eternal soulmate, but the marriage thing is another issue
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06/07/01: No stroke of genius
05/30/01: The lesson of the Mr. Green Jeans senator: 'Moderate' is a classy term for wishy-washy
05/25/01: Baseball has not been so good to me
05/18/01: Clothes make the woman
05/11/01: Selective precaution
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04/27/01: The Horowitz revelations as seen by a college professor
04/20/01: First, let's kill all the tests
04/13/01: The continuing mistake of underpricing electricity
04/06/01: That pill, Julia Roberts
03/29/01: If it weren't for the parents, we might accomplish something
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03/15/01: Columbine redux: Moral infants
03/09/01: The lessons of Tom and Nicole
03/01/01: Pardon the temporary outrage
02/23/01: In defense of homework
02/20/01: A Message for faith-based organizations: Don't take the money, just run
02/06/01: Enough already with the Clintoons
01/26/01: The challenge to be better than we have been
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12/06/00: The company we keep: Lawyers and elections
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09/09/00: Why rich folk don't bother me none
08/28/00: Survival of the not-so-fit but conniving
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06/14/00: Sex and the City: The shallow but vulgar female
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05/12/00: Taking your lumps
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04/05/00: Endowing the Hooters Chair for Literature Appreciation
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01/25/00: Stroke of the pen, law of the land: Clinton's Camelot
01/18/00: Off the Rocker Rorschach Test
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12/14/99: Drop-kicking the homeless
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11/18/99: The elusive human spirit and accountability
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10/28/99: Live by litigation, die by litigation
10/22/99: Jesse, Warren, Cybill, Donald and Oprah
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10/05/99: Dan Quayle, morals and schoolyard bullies
09/30/99: The monsters of epidermal parenting
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09/09/99: Selective censorship
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07/06/99: An Amish woman in a Victoria's Secret store
06/30/99: That intellectually embarrassing Second Amendment
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06/22/99: Dems and the Creator coup
06/17/99: True courage is more than just admitting troubles

© 2000, Marianne M. Jennings