OPINION – Thomas Jefferson defined rightful liberty as, “unobstructed action according to our will within limits drawn around us by the equal rights of others.” But there is something about peaceable individuals seeking liberty that invariably brings out the “Mommy Dearest” tendencies in others.
An example of this phenomenon can be seen in the reactions to a proposed self-sufficient patriot community in Idaho. “The Citadel” is being touted as a liberty-driven community where residents will share a common bond of patriotism, American exceptionalism, self-reliance, and physical preparedness for man-made or natural disasters.
The proposed community is expected to house between 3,500 and 7,000 families who wish to live lives of their own choosing with like-minded citizens.
Promoters of “The Citadel” readily admit that a lifestyle of freedom, preparedness and self-sufficiency will not resonate with everyone. They come right out and state that, “Marxists, Socialists, Liberals and Establishment Republicans will likely find that life in our community is incompatible with their existing ideology and preferred lifestyles.”
The idea behind “The Citadel” is that a liberty-minded people don’t need the ministrations of a nanny state to dictate their every move. This is why its promoters say, “There will be no HOA. There will be no recycling police and no local ordinance enforcers from City Hall.” But rejecting these supposed blessings from the political class carries a degree of risk.
Reasonable people would look at “The Citadel” and, if it weren’t their cup of tea, would simply say, “that’s not for me.” But we no longer have a society of reasonable people who still believe in the Jeffersonian concept of live and let live.
Much of the news coverage of the proposed fortress community has been fair but skeptical. But many of the reader comments reveal a curious mindset of naked hostility.
Here are a few examples: “Nothing like building a self-contained terrorist training camp right here at home. At least they will be easy to keep under surveillance.”
“We need more leper colonies like this (no offense to anyone with that terrible disease).”
“It’s ok, I am sure they will be serving Kool-Aid soon enough.”
Has American society become so acclimated to the institutional paranoia of the all-powerful state that we now view anyone who doesn’t subscribe to it as a threat?
Those who would choose to move to a liberty-driven community do so voluntarily because they see value in it. Persuasion, not force, is the dynamic by which they would conduct their business with one another. Rather than being a burden on society by calling for the support of the collective, they seek to be left unmolested to live their lives and raise their families according to their own wishes. So why are they the ones being accused of narrow, cultish thinking?
It’s possible that part of the antipathy toward “The Citadel” community stems from the fact that firearms ownership is one of the responsibilities expected of its residents. But it’s not the hatred of firearms that offends the controlling nature of its critics; it’s the fact that those firearms are not in government hands.
Writer Stephen Greenhut explains the rationale of this pathological distrust of our fellow citizens: “Without the authorities toting guns, liberals couldn’t force us to do all the things they constantly are forcing us to do. Conservatives don’t want us to resist their plans either, but at least they are more consistent – they want the government to be armed to the teeth, but they are willing to allow the rest of us to be armed also, although to a lesser degree.”
The irresistible desire to control others has become a part of our national consciousness. Like crabs in a bucket, when someone looks like they might make it to freedom, we feel it’s our duty to drag them back into bondage.
For the record, I’ve been tempted many times to separate myself and my family from a society that is clearly in rapid decline morally, economically, and politically. But I’ve come to understand that it’s very difficult to accomplish any lasting good in the world when we close ourselves off from it. It would be even harder to accomplish when you’re building a what others perceive as a prison around yourself.
To those who would seek refuge in a community like the Citadel, I wish you the best and hope you find the liberty you seek there.
And to those who would fault them for pursuing freedom in an increasingly unfree world, I would ask, by what moral authority would you deny them?
Bryan Hyde is a news commentator and co-host of the Perspectives morning show on Fox News 1450 AM 93.1 FM. The opinions stated in this article are his and not representative of St. George News.
Copyright St. George News, StGeorgeUtah.com Inc., 2013, all rights reserved.