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Senator Pat Roberts: “I am a strong supporter of civil liberties. But you have no civil liberties if you are dead.”

What the Senator is saying is that saving lives trumps all else. And I cannot disagree more.

Saving lives trumps much. And how much it trumps is a valid area for discussion and disagreement. But there are things worth dying for. Our Founding Fathers seemed to think civil liberties are among them, since they fought a bloody revolution for them. Patrick Henry wasn’t hyperbolizing when he said, “Give me liberty, or give me death.” [ . . . ]

Sometimes [security and liberty] do conflict. And we civil libertarians discredit ourselves when we deny it. The important point is that freedom is more important than safety. Just as our soldiers risk their lives to defend American freedom, we all accept risks in return for freedom. [ . . . ]

Liberty may be no good to those who lose their lives, but life may become no good to those who lose their liberty.

Thank you, Seth Chalmer! God, what a bunch of pussies we’ve become!

Seth is not being reckless; he does acknowledge that “A balance between liberty and security can be argued and changed. Privacy rights aren’t fundamental human rights like the right not to be killed or enslaved.” But he is bringing up a fundamental point: Freedom takes courage, and it cannot be had without risk.

The next time you’re feeling really scared of another terrorist attack, think of yourself and your loved ones as warriors for freedom. That little thought experiment works wonders. Courage is not instead of fear, it’s in spite of it.

UPDATE: Check out this post on “terror management theory” at ThoughtTheater, linked in the comments. [I’m quoting irresponsibly and indiscriminately both from the text of Daniel DiRito’s post and from the sources he quotes. Go over there to see who’s who.]

Research has shown that people, when reminded of their own inevitable death, will cling more strongly to their cultural worldviews. The data appears to show that nations or persons who have experienced traumas (e.g. 9/11) are more attracted to strong leaders who express traditional, pro-establishment, authoritarian viewpoints. They will also be hyper-aware of the possibility of external threats, and may be more hostile to those who threaten them. [ . . . ]

When looking at the fact that nearly two thirds of Americans polled seemingly accept a program of widespread domestic surveillance, the theory offers a plausible explanation. Essentially, anything that helps assuage the fear of death can potentially be seen as an acceptable situation [ . . . ]

According to the theory, Americans traumatized by the 9/11 terrorist attacks turned to Bush in part because, subconsciously, his clear and values-driven message helped assuage their fear of death. [ . . . ]

“Psychologically terrorized people are attracted to clear vision of where evil lurks in the world and clear vision of how to obliterate it,� Solomon says. And in our post-9/11 world, he continues, Americans are, in some ways, a psychologically terrorized people, with thoughts of death a hazy but ever-present reality.

This doesn’t weaken my point, it buttresses it. If we are awakened to how insidiously we’ve been terrorized, it may galvanize us to defy it.