Liberty is expensive. The price is eternal vigilance. If a war is just, it is fought to protect life and liberty. But there is a danger that the battle for liberty will also be used to rationalize restrictions on liberty.
In the early days of the Republic, our second president, John Adams, used a war with France to impose the Alien and Sedition Act. This Act repressed the speech of resident aliens and even American citizens who might oppose the war. The Act also provided for indefinite detention and expulsion of aliens.
Liberty also suffered during other times of crisis. Everyone remembers how Japanese citizens were interned during World War II, no matter how loyal and innocent they were.
Even without explicit government action, open discussion of ideas and policy can be jeopardized. Citizens may sometimes muzzle themselves, out of fearing to seem disloyal.
Joe Andrews is a political reporter who has noticed a drop-off in political debate. He worries, “Will every political difference . . . be portrayed now as an unpatriotic display of partisanship? Our patriotism is premised on our democracy. . . . That is why there is so much danger in politics dying.” Andrews has a legitimate concern. But I am confident that we won’t let the terrorists warp our American way of life.
Most Americans know that in a battle for freedom, the winning strategy is not to support America and shut up, but to support America and speak up. So if you love liberty, practice it. It may be the most patriotic thing you can do.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.