Under an earlier post about the Muslim woman in Buffalo who was allegedly beheaded by her estranged husband (rather the husband is alleged to have beheaded her; the beheading itself is beyond mere allegation), we’ve had an interesting exchange of comments—upon which I’d like to comment.
Sometimes, the differences between liberals and conservatives are thrown into stark relief, and this tragic story is instructive of one difference.
We would all agree that this woman did not deserve the fate she met. Where we diverge is on how her death might have been prevented. No, let me rephrase. On how she should have lived.
Very generally speaking, a liberal believes in the best in other people. I know this to be true, because that belief sustained me as a liberal far beyond my intellectual certainty that such was not always the case. When a man threatens violence against a woman, we have mechanisms in place to protect her: restraining orders, shelters, etc. But the police will tell you (as I believe Martino pointed out in the comments) that restraining orders are worthless if the man truly intends to follow through on his threat. Like he’s going to care if that charge is added to a murder rap?
A conservative believes in the best in other people, as well, but knows that the best is not all there is. There’s the nasty bit, too. The conservative believes that the hungry should be fed and the homeless should be housed, but also knows the corrosive effect of welfare on will and self-reliance.
More important, the conservative—and maybe I’m actually describing the libertarian—knows that true protection starts with the self. Even the best-intentioned government is less motivated to protect a citizen than is that citizen himself.
Worse, even the best-intentioned government is run by government employees. I remember the first time I ever heard the expression “good enough for government work” (high school, spoken by an older substitute math teacher, describing my best efforts in Algebra 2). I was stunned by its cynicism and its blunt truth.
But good enough for government work wasn’t good enough for Aasiya. It’s too late for her, and reader Carol pointed out that as the wife of such a Muslim man as this, she may never have had a chance. I was going to respond to Carol that Aasiya had five times a day to practice her self-defense when her husband was otherwise occupied, but decided to make this larger point instead.
The conservative/libertarian has the best hopes for people and government, but knows that they are merely hopes. (Trust but verify, as Reagan said.) The liberal may actually understand this, too, but is willing to die for those hopes.
The libertarian would rather live, thank you very much, and would rather that others like Aasiya live. We live in the most civilized country the world has ever known (speaking chauvinistically), but that civilization and a buck could have bought her a cup of coffee (which is as good a weapon as any, by the way, when confronted by an attacker).
I believe it’s important to know this—what we do with that knowledge is up to us.