Friday, May 4, 2007

Civil Liberties in Times of War

It is a great pity what has happened to the Wall Street Journal. A publication which used to promote the Reaganesque notions of smaller government, now seems to be little more than a neo-conservative tool of the Bush Administration, constanting harping on the need for more presidential power to accompany its editorial position, which can now be described as favoring three main things: Big Business; Big Government; and Imperialism.

Here is a quote from an article from the May 2nd Journal, by Kenneth Mansfield, professor of government at Harvard, which is remarkable for its flimsiness and lack of textual authority:

The lesson for us should be that circumstances are much more important for free government than we often believe. Civil liberties are for majorities as well as minorities, and no one should be considered to have rights against society whose exercise would bring society to ruin. The usual danger in a republic is tyranny of the majority, because the majority is the only legitimate dominant force. But in time of war the greater danger may be to the majority from a minority, and the government will be a greater friend than enemy to liberty. Vigilant citizens must be able to adjust their view of the source of danger, and change front if necessary. "Civil liberties" belong to all, not only to the less powerful or less esteemed, and the true balance of liberty and security cannot be taken as given without regard to the threat.

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