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Let me get the disclaimer done with: I don’t support rioting or invasions of government buildings. They should be stopped with whatever force is necessary.
But I’m not buying that there was some sort of desecration going on in the invasion of the Capitol Building. What is sacred in this nation is not institutions or buildings, but individual rights, liberty, and life. Whatever sacredness our institutions have is derivative of their core purpose in securing individual liberty. That’s a peculiarity of this nation we sometimes forget. The king is sacred in England, or the party in Communist China, but in a constitutional republic like ours, our government has only derivative sacredness.
We wave the flag, celebrate the Fourth of July, and have monuments in Washington DC as a way of holding individual liberty sacred. We should feel a sense of desecration when those core individual rights are violated, and only in a lesser sense when there is some attack on the institutions that protect them. George W. Bush expressed this in the wake of 9/11 when he said that “freedom had been attacked.” He understood that the significance of the attack on the Pentagon Building wasn’t that the building itself was really threatened, but that the real target was the individual liberty for which this nation stands. That is the thing to be concerned about.
Actual desecrations of individual rights and liberty have been occurring most of this year. To have secure individual rights means that one can trust that your rights won’t be violated by the government, and that the government will protect your rights from others who wish to violate them. Yet for most of this year, the government routinely stood by while BLM and Antifa rioters looted and burned private property, harassed citizens in their homes and at restaurants, blocked intersections, or set up “autonomous zones.” How many ordinary people’s lives were destroyed in these events? That is the desecration I am worried about. It happened when Joe Sixpack lost his livelihood when his hardware store was looted and burned, while police watched and did nothing.
By contrast, how many lives were destroyed in the Capitol Building invasion? I’m not talking about the rioters themselves. You get involved in a riot, you take your chances. I’m talking about ordinary, innocent people who go home from work and show up the next day to find their store looted. As far as I know, the number is zero. Whatever damage was done to the Capitol Building will be quickly repaired. In a few weeks, you won’t even be able to tell it ever happened. You can still see the boarded-up businesses in Portland and other cities, however.
Capitol Buildings, Congresses, Presidents, and Senates are not sacred. It is the individual liberty they are supposed to secure that is sacred.Published in