Markos Moulitsas has written a very powerful and very moving piece on the sad subject of resurgent mindless violence in Central America.
Violence Begets Violence
This story is a departure from this site's standard fare, but has hit me pretty hard.
El Salvador and Guatemala are currently gripped by the murder of three Salvadoran parliament members. They were en route to Guatemala City for a monthly session of the Central American parliament when their vehicle disappeared. Their bodies were found a day later, shot execution-style and burned nearly beyond recognition...
He goes on to describe the horrific history from the 1980s.
Here is the problem: this bloody truth flies in the face of the big myth of so-called Libertarian Republicanism which Kos, himself, indulged only last Fall.
On the eve of the 2006 election, Kos created quite a stir with an article posted on the blog for the Cato Institute:
The Case for the Libertarian Democrat
by Markos Moulitas
Posted on Cato UnBound
October 2, 2006.
It was my fealty to the notion of personal liberty that made me a Republican when I came of age in the 1980s. It is my continued fealty to personal liberty that makes me a Democrat today.
. . .
We can fondly look back to a time when Republicans spoke a good game on libertarian issues. They professed fealty to state rights, spoke of shrinking the government, preserving individual liberty, and embracing fiscal responsibility.
I am a little older than Mr. Moulitas and I grew up in the South during the civil rights revolution. The awful truth is there has never been a time in the last fifty years when conservative talk about "shrinking the government" and "individual liberty" was anything more than hypocritical campaign oratory. George Orwell once wrote that most political speech is "the defense of the indefensible." As the brutal, dysfunctional, idiotic practices of the "Southern way of life" became increasingly indefensible after World War II, certain clever politicians and intellectuals seized upon this argument that "of course" they agreed with the goals of the civil rights revolution, they just didn't think "big government" should force change "down our throats."
When I went to graduate school in the mid-1970s, I did not go to the University of California or any of those famously "liberal" universities in the Northeast. Instead, I went to the then very "conservative" University of Virginia at Charlottesville where the most militant student groups on campus were the College Republicans and William F. Buckley's Young Americans for Freedom (note the abuse of the word "freedom" in the title of an organization whose members gut-level, knee-jerk reaction to just about every issue was 100% authoritarian).
Remember, this was the mid-1970s. The social and cultural upheavals of the 1960s were over. Long hair, funky blue jeans, hard rock, casual "soft" drug use, and casual recreational sex were chic. Republican President Richard Nixon and his bribe-taking "conservative" vice-president, Spiro Agnew had resigned in disgrace. By 1974-1975, you couldn't find 10 members of the UVa faculty who would even admit to having voted for Nixon in 1972 (how Mr. Nixon managed to beat McGovern by landslide in the state is unclear).
Problem: How to Be an Old-Fashioned Southern White Guy and Chic?
Solution: Libertarian Conservatism
The libertarian rap allowed a guy to:
Assert the "Right" to post a "Whites Only" sign on a public business
and resist the military draft.
Assert the "Right" to criminalize women's reproductive freedom and same-sex love
get laid by "easy" feminist babes.
- Declare "Individual Liberty" the highest value
as moral justification for war crimes.
Sounds crazy? It is crazy! Unfortunately this became the dominant political ideology in the United States during Ronald Reagan's years in the White House.
Here is how Kos describes the murderous goings-on in El Salvador in the 1980s:
In recent Central American history, the elder D'Aubuisson was one of the most violent, ruthless people in a region wracked by violence. He was the organizer of the infamous Salvadoran death squads who killed thousands of suspected communists, including labor leaders, educators, and students. Most famously, D'Aubuisson planned the muder that essentially pushed El Salvador from "civil unrest" to "civil war" in 1980 -- that of my personal hero Archbishop Arnulfo Romero.
But doesn't anybody remember that Ronald Reagan was president? Doesn't anybody remember Romero's fate was sealed when he wrote a letter to President Carter asking that U.S. aid to El Salvador be cut and that one of the first things Reagan did was increase U.S. aid? And doesn't anybody remember that it wasn't just Reagan but also George H. W. Bush, Donald Rumsfeld, Colin Powell, James Baker, John Negroponte, and Elliot Abrams were all implicated?
Conclusion: How About Being as Nice to Dissident Progressives as "Libertarian" Conservatives?
This diary is not intended to be a criticism of Kos. We all know why he posted that article at the rightwing Republican Cato Institute -- for once, to sow confusion and disunity in the ranks of the other guys.
All I am saying is let's be fair and consistent.