Liberty and security, &c.

Che Guevara


Lately, I’ve been seeing the phrase “liberty versus security,” and there are debates being held with titles like “Liberty or Security?” This doesn’t sit very well with me. I don’t like that word “versus,” or “or.”

Not being blown up or enslaved? I consider that a part of my liberty — a significant part.

I’ve never been quite sure what the cliché “false dichotomy” means, but I suspect “liberty or security” is one. (At the same time, I’m not a naif, I hope: I know there are trade-offs, as there are in nearly every department of life. I just think “or” or “versus” is too stark.)

(You could even say: liberty because of security.)

Let me take you back to 1961. Che Guevara’s plane is grounded at Shannon Airport, in Ireland. So he and his posse spend the night in nearby Kilkee, a seaside resort. (This is County Clare, we’re talkin’.)

At some point, someone paints a mural of the great man, to commemorate his visit.

But now, local authorities have painted over the mural — because, in the words of news reports, it “upset American tourists.”

This amazes me. I’m surprised that anyone, apart from Cubans and Cuban Americans, knew to be upset. Maybe a Kilkee artist could paint a mural of Beria or Himmler or whoever their Khmer Rouge equivalent was, and see if anybody notices.

Further in Che news: I got a letter from a reader who says, “Jay, have you ever heard of the TV show Motive?” No. “It’s a police drama set in Vancouver, B.C.”

In a recent episode, “the female detective, the star of the show, came home and found her 17-year-old son wearing a Che shirt. She actually asked him whether he knew about the guy on his shirt. He said, Not really, but it’s just a T-shirt, not a manifesto.”

Okay, “fast-forward to the end of the show: The kid is no longer wearing the T-shirt, and, from the conversation between the mother and the son, it’s clear that he has taken the time to research Che, and decided on his own to get rid of the shirt.”

Wow. Our reader says, “You could have knocked me over with a feather.” Ditto. Terrific.

I am grateful, not for the first time, to Ben Stein. He has written the absolute truth about Detroit — its decline and fall.

When Detroit burst into the news a couple of months ago, I found it depressing to read reports and opinion, especially opinion, on the subject. I even found conservative opinion depressing to read. There was a lot of talk about the auto industry and the UAW.

And, you know? The collapse of Detroit is all about race. Poisonous, insidious race. Ben Stein knows this — how, I’m not sure (I grew up in the Detroit orbit) — and he tells it perfectly.

Hang on, he says in his column that his father was born in Detroit. (By “column,” I really mean “diary.”) And I have a memory — just thought of it: I met Stein once in the Detroit airport. This was one of the handful of times I have approached a celebrity. Bet I haven’t done it more than three, four times. I told him how much I admired him.

He said, “What do you do?” I said, “I work at a golf course.” He said, “You look like a golfer.” (I was sunburned, probably.) A high compliment.

Ben’s father, the late economist Herb Stein, has been in the news lately. It was he who said, “If something can’t go on forever, it won’t” (I paraphrase). Conservatives have been quoting this a lot, particularly where federal money issues are concerned. (Where the EU is concerned, too.)

I spend a fair amount of time blasting the “mainstream media,” and I reserve special blasts for Democratic politicos, operating in the media. Operating as “mainstream journalists.”

So I’d like to tip my hat to George Stephanopoulos, host of ABC’s This Week. (It’s still hard for me not to think of the show as the David Brinkley show.) He interviewed the man known as the “Benghazi whistleblower”: Gregory Hicks, the former deputy chief of mission in Libya. I imagine the interview was not entirely comfortable for Stephanopoulos. I imagine he supports and roots for the Obama administration, as a Democrat naturally would. Still, he did it.

By the way — this does not surprise you — the left-wing media hate, hate, hate Greg Hicks. He is the skunk in their garden party.


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