Monday, June 20, 2016

What Should a Libertarian Do During a Period of Intensified Terrorist Activity?

By Robert Wenzel

I am quite shocked by some of the comments I have seen here at Target Liberty following the attack by Omar Mateen on a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida.

A commenter at my post, A Self-Hating Gay Nutjob Shoots Up Gay Bar and Even Diamond & Silk Juice Up the Islam Hate, wrote:
Bob, you do realize that you are regurgitating exactly what the media wants spouted. It seems he actually was gay, or, ahem, swung both ways, as he has had two wives, both attractive. Whether he was self-hating or not is pure speculation.
I understand why the left wants to divert attention away from the Muslim component. But some on the right's desire to do the same grates. Culture does actually matter. So does religion. There is no Magic Dirt that strips these away to make the immigrant an "American," even generations later. That Mateen is quoted as referring to "my country," when said country is NOT the US (or America) but rather Afghanistan is relevant. So is his religion. Regardless of how contradictory his behavior, there is a definite Muslim element. 
At my post,  Further Exchange on Tom Plamer, Gays, Guns and Islamic Homophobes Coming to Kill Us, I argued, along with Michael Edelstein, that it was absurd to hold the view that "they’ve targeted America, and gay people are high on their list of people to slaughter" when it was a  self-hating gay nutjob jacked up by war rhetoric. A commenter wrote:
The problem here is that Robert Wenzel and Michael Edelstein don't understand Fourth-generation warfare.
Then there is this at the post, An Exchange on Tom Plamer, Gays, Guns and Islamic Homophobes Coming to Kill Us:
You will never concede any threat until you are fighting for your own life, Robert Wenzel. In this you are like the liberal that dismisses the high levels of crime by certain minority groups until they are actually mugged that beaten. 
And this:
The goal given to Muslims in the holy books is make everyone everywhere subject to Islamic law. Violence by some is one strategy. The other is emigrate, outbreed the native population, form a politically significant voting block and demand concessions.
It is an ideology which is incompatible with the West. The more of them that Hillary imports, the more we will have tribal conflict.
The basic theme in all these comments is an "us versus them" perspective. That Muslims are out to kill us.

To be sure after decades of the US killing Muslims in the Middle East, there are many that are pretty upset at Americans and the United States. Organizations such as ISIS are trying to jack up their levels of hate even further because such hate suits the leaders of ISIS and other ISIS-like leaders.

These leaders are extremely dangerous as are the American leaders who attempt to stoke up an "us versus them" mentality and call for more actions against various Muslim targets.

Case in point: Chris Christie Calls for a Military Strike in Response to Orlando Attack

and then we have this: Trump: We have to start looking at profiling.

But these are just agents of the state and wannabe agents of the state talking.

Their calls for government actions must be viewed for what they are, a call to stoke up the masses for expanded government. Libertarians should have nothing to do with this.

If you are on either side of this war getting stoked up by the leadership propaganda, you are not acting like a libertarian. You have fallen into a statist trap.

As a libertarian, I am not at war with anyone in the Middle East, certainly not an entire religion. I have two very good friends in Los Angeles, a banker, and a lawyer. They are both Iranian Muslims. As far as I can tell, they are interested (nightly-7 days a week) in wine, women and song and that is about it. I have zero concern that they are going to shoot me up--or anyone else.

Come to think of it, I also have a real estate friend in Los Angeles who is from Nigeria. He may be Muslim, I don't know. I do know he is a good wingman. I also doubt he is going to shoot me anytime soon.

I know that there are some Muslims who are getting jacked up by ISIS and ISIS-type propaganda, but to date, they have not been that effective in doing much killing in the US. Any deaths caused by any statist propaganda is horrific but the population of the United States is over 320 million and deaths in the US by terrorists this year have been under 100. More people die each year in the US from falling out of bed.

The idea that the masses of Muslims in the US are plotting to kill us is insane. It is estimated there are some 3.3 million Muslins in the US. If even a small fraction of these were jacked up and ready to kill the rest of us, we would be facing massacres daily.

It's possible that the terrorist attacks will intensify (likely?) given how statist leaders on both sides are trying to jack up the rhetoric but the last place I am going to look for a solution is with government.

It is the nutjob US government killing policy that started the entire thing and the nutjob response by groups like ISIS that fuel the bilateral hate.

The best thing the US government can do is halt all military activities in the Middle East, including supplying money, weapons, and advisors. That's it. To look to government for a further solution when it is the cause of the entire problem is like asking a serial killer to babysit your kids.

I am  much more comfortable with free market solutions. By this I mean, if terrorist attacks intensify here in the US, then free market operators will step up and provide the type of protection needed to lessen the risk of getting caught in an attack.

Though, at this point, I hasten to emphasize that the attacks have been extremely limited and there really is no demand for expensive or time-consuming protection against attacks.

The idea that I have to understand "fourth-generation warfare" makes no sense to me. I view the possibility that I am going to get caught up in a terrorist attack extremely unlikely.

Neither am I concerned about the "Muslim component." I can't recall ever crossing the street because of a person that was coming toward me who was probably a Muslim . I have done so, however, at times when I have seen urban primitives in full urban primitive mode coming toward me. And I have done so when crazed homeless were ranting a block ahead of me.

The world is a very complex place, and I grant that additional terrorist attacks could occur in the US by nutjobs who are Muslim and juiced up by ISIS and other such groups, but I don't think Muslims have anything  close to an exclusivity on madness.

The Aurora theater shooter was not  Muslim, the Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood shooter was not Muslim and neither was the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooter.

And the Orlando shooter, Omar Mateen, appeared to have a number of "issues," including that he might have been gay and hated the fact.

So yeah, there are threats, I recognize that. It is incorrect to say that I "will never concede any threat until I am fighting for my own life." It is just that the threat at this point appears extremely small and I know for a fact that growing government to solve the crisis is not going to help the situation.

Even if every potential terrorist name was passed on to the FBI, it doesn't mean that this would stop attacks. It would mean the FBI would have to go through thousands of names that would make it impossible for the government to check fully and find the real threats. Indeed, the FBI had talked to Mateen years before, but if he displayed the same demeanor as he did in this documentary, there wouldn't be much for the FBI to go on:

As for the US government preventing Muslims from entering the country as Donald Trump has proposed. I do have a problem with government supported Muslims entering the country and I also have a problem with newly entering Muslims having access to government "services" such as medical care and education, but if they want to work or vacation, I have no problem.

If others don't want to associate with them, well then, they just shouldn't. It is a very big country, Indeed, in the very small geographic area that is San Francisco, I avoid certain areas, I have nothing against Chinese, but I would never live in Chinatown (Though I do visit Chinese restaurants there), I have no problem with gays but I visited the Castro once and that was enough for me for a lifetime.

If Muslims actually did become a problem, such as urban primitives are, then I would imagine areas of the country would develop where Muslims would not be welcome. This, of course. leads to the real problem, government again, which might try to  prevent some from developing an exclusive area closed off to some ethnic, religious etc, groups, such as Muslims.

I happen to like a mix of people where I live which is why I tend to live in large cities, but if a group wants to set up a private property sector that prevents certain groups from entering a libertarian shouldn't object.

There also, from a libertarian perspective, should be no objection to a group because they "outbreed the native population."

As I say, there can be libertarian objections to government support of individuals, objections to the prevention of discrimination on private property but what people do on their own property should be up to them, including  "outbreeding the native population."

As I have pointed out before, a new group moving into an area on private property is not really different from gentrification, which no libertarian would object to.

Bottom line: Government expansion is always evil. A libertarian should never fall into the trap of calling for more government. Expanded government always looks for new targets where it can apply its expanded power. The current oppressive regulations in the United States are the result, for the most part, of tiny new regulations that are applied in more and more ways. Government expansion is evil. But, the attack in Orlando has seemed to have left some libertarians confused and others demanding expanded actions by government.

Although terrorist attacks are horrific, it is wrong for the libertarian to hype up the threat as some type of "us versus them" epic battle. The libertarian should never be a part of such a battle and, thus, the "us versus them" falls apart at that point even if there is a "them" (although I believe there is no significant "them" outside of scattered nutjobs).

If terrorist attacks actually become serious and likely threats, the free markets will develop protective solutions. The libertarian should trust free markets and always fear government expansion--even when it comes to terrorist threats.

Thus, for the libertarian, he should call for the government to stand down in its overseas military activities and other types of overseas meddling, and stand down in its active support of Muslim entrants to the country and object to any expansion of government to "fight" terrorism.

In the end, the libertarian answer to the terrorist threat is the same answer that the libertarian should always give to every situation: No expansion of government for any reason, shrink government and trust free markets on all fronts.

Robert Wenzel is Editor & Publisher at and at Target Liberty. He is also author of The Fed Flunks: My Speech at the New York Federal Reserve Bank. Follow him on twitter:@wenzeleconomics


  1. Great post. Right on point. I've seen a lot of the kinds of comments you mentioned on all manner of "alternative news" and libertarian sites. I think most of 'em are coming straight out of Langley or Chatham House. The problem is that stuff plays well with "conservative" types, who, despite all the evidence to the contrary and knowing better, still WANT to believe that "dem moozlims hates ur freedumbs."

  2. Bob you are conflating nation and state. Perhaps intentionally to set up a straw man? While I acknowledge that nations exist and are distinctive, at no point in my arguments have I brought in the STATE, which you do, over and over, to then use as a bludgeon against arguments made by others like me. When you describe Mateen as a "Self-Hating Gay Nutjob," you are metaphorically waving your hands and insisting that his Muslim and Afghani backgrounds are irrelevant (just like the elites and mainstream media). They are not. You can hate the state all you want (and I am right there with you), but to say that nationality and religion (among many) factors have no bearing on what Mateen did, and that the host culture (who were imposed upon by the elites in this no differently than many other aspects of their lives) simply has to accept hostile elements within their midst because NAP is wrong and illogical. Is Mateen an American? He was born in the US, but he was quoted as considering Afghanistan his country. There is no Magic Dirt that transforms hostile outsiders into Americans (as one example). Even in a private property society of the type you support, Mateen and his ilk could, would, and should be repatriated and/or deported, before they cause mayhem (regardless of their legal status). Would that require deporting all of them? Perhaps not, but that would still be a collective right in a PPS.

    Have you not spoken similarly when it comes to Jews and the Israel Lobby (questioning who they really work for or are loyal to)?

    1. According to the 911 transcripts, Mateen never mentioned LGBT hatred, just allegiance to ISIS.

  3. Bravo, RW. Imaginary hobgoblins...

  4. Very tempting to fall into collectivist thinking. IF it's someone who is not like you. Liberals mostly don't own guns, so they will generalize one bad example against all gun owners. Conservatives are mostly not Muslim, so they will generalize one bad example against all Muslims. The end result is the same, criminalizing a class or group without regard for individual rights.

  5. The reasonableness of NAP is self-evident to any rational person. And engaging in the "us vs them" discourse serves only those who want confusion so they can get away with stealing and killing. RW's response is a little lengthy but I am in complete agreement

  6. Consistent with my continuing observation that no one but us Rothbardians has the slightest familiarity with or understanding of ANYTHING Rothbardian*, Americans simply cannot comprehend the concept of blowback. That applies to domestic affairs as well as foreign affairs. I suspect it is because of the religious training everyone gets in government school which teaches that FDR cured the depression AND fixed up the Germans and Japanese with carpet bombing of their cities. It appears to me (seriously) that any challenge to that vision results in no brain activity of 90% of Americans or some type of low level brain activity thinking the messenger of truth is a flag burner.

    Democrats simply cannot understand that a $15 an hour minimum wage with cause serious problems for the alleged beneficiaries of their new laws. Neither Democrats nor Republicans can comprehend that Hillary and Obama (and Bill Clinton) are mass murdering war criminals. Both see these “leaders” as touchy-feely kubayah types, which the Democrats love. The Republicans hate them because they are afraid to use the U.S. military to fight “radical Islam”. The installation of Nazis in Ukraine does not exist nor does the military build up on the Russian border. No one can comprehend Israel as a bunch of ethnic cleansing land thieves that controls the US government. No one can comprehend the purposeful destruction of the secular Middle Eastern governments by the US, especially since most Americans do not even know what the word “secular” means, much less the difference between a Shi’ite and Shinola. A few weeks ago, Eric Margolis told Scott Horton that Americans view foreign affairs as if it were quantum physics.

    Expose these “voters” to the most definitive factual analysis of foreign affairs and their brains flatline.

    Each of the “Muslim” terrorists has claimed to be quite upset with western war-making in Muslim countries. They announce this every time the commit a mass murder. Again, no matter how many times this is explained, American brains flatline regarding the topic. The American government knows how to fix the economy and brings the equivalent of rebuilt Germany and Japan to the world’s poor and primitive. No counter-arguments register.

    Which culture is more mindlessly religious?

    *That includes historical analysis, current events analysis, the nature of the state, the difference between aggressive vs. defensive violence, and anything the involves monetary policy, including the notion that inflation is not a mysterious force of nature. Everything we hold near and dear simply does not exist in the non-libertarian brain.

  7. This will likely turn out to be as real as Sandy Hook. Where are all the ambulances, fire trucks, police cars that would gather at such an event ? They are missing. Something is very wrong with this event. If it did occur, it had to be multiple shooters, a lone shooter could never take out that many people.

  8. Bob I like to thank you for keeping a cool head in this. While many libertarians who helped me hate the state have been sucked into the Trump trap you're one of the few who hasn't. If conservatives and the self-proclaimed tough guy Alt-Right are so hell bent on going to war with Muslims and other groups of people let them put their money where their mouths are and do it already. The truth is that they don't and just want the state to do their bidding for them while at the same time say that they're somehow different from the left.

  9. It's interesting what self-proclaimed rationalists and empiricists ignore. Genetics and culture are not only not nothing, they are not even a small factor. Genetics has a strong influence on both intelligence and time preference.

    If America imports tens of millions of Mexicans, for example, America will start to look more and more like Mexico. That's not a value judgement. It's just an observation. That might even be great for the Mexicans, but most Americans wouldn't like their country (not the state) to be more like Mexico. Having grown up in Southern California, and seen the gradual transformation to a more and more Latin milieu (I was last there in 2005, but the difference from the 1970s was already very stark), I know what I am talking about firsthand.

    Then this is the constant conflating of nation and state. Hint for the ignorant: the nation preceded the state. No amount of Austrian economics and libertarian hand-waving will change that. Learn some history. Nations are not nothing. They are real, and the differences between them are real. To say otherwise is to join in common cause with leftists.

    Bob, for the record, I have no problem with Iranians. I think that toning down the warmongering with Iran is likely one of Obama's greatest accomplishments (not a long list, but...). I've argued with people that it's perfectly understandable, rational even, why Iran (the state) would want to obtain nuclear weapons. Also, Iranian Muslims, being Iranian, are not the same as Arab Muslims. None of this means that America (the nation, not the state; yes, there is an American nation) should let in millions of Iranians.

  10. For those who consider themselves "Rothbardian," you are of course aware that Rothbard himself reconsidered his support of open borders (regardless of any concept of blowback).

  11. "Terrorist Attacks on U.S. Soil by Group, From 1980 to 2005, According to FBI Database there were more Jewish acts of terrorism within the United States than Islamic (7% vs 6%)."

    From: Non-Muslims Carried Out More than 90% of All Terrorist Attacks in America

  12. "The basic theme in all these comments is an "us versus them" perspective. That Muslims are out to kill us.
    To be sure after decades of the US killing Muslims in the Middle East...."

    Look up President Jefferson's wars against the Barbary Pirates; Muslims who considered it their duty to attack and subjugate any who were not Muslims.

    These events resulted in the creation of the Marines, and they are why their song has the line, "... to the shores of Tripoli!"

    Muslims and Islam have been attacking the United States since President Jefferson, long before the United States had any capability to harm them in any way.

    In March 1786, Thomas Jefferson and John Adams went to London to negotiate with Tripoli's envoy, ambassador Sidi Haji Abdrahaman (or Sidi Haji Abdul Rahman Adja). When they enquired "concerning the ground of the pretensions to make war upon nations who had done them no injury", the ambassador replied:

    "It was written in their Koran, that all nations which had not acknowledged the Prophet were sinners, whom it was the right and duty of the faithful to plunder and enslave; and that every mussulman who was slain in this warfare was sure to go to paradise. He said, also, that the man who was the first to board a vessel had one slave over and above his share, and that when they sprang to the deck of an enemy's ship, every sailor held a dagger in each hand and a third in his mouth; which usually struck such terror into the foe that they cried out for quarter at once."