Ed Kilgore on the old in and out (groups)

At the New Republic today, Ed Kilgore has a new essay analyzing American attitudes toward broad Enlightenment values and civil libertarian principles. His bottom line: most Americans want to know whether you’re “in” or “out” before worrying about whether you should have liberty, justice, or equality with them. Money quote:

[D]espite a century of liberal efforts . . . many Americans simply don’t buy the idea of universal human rights or the equality of nations and their citizens. Polls about airline security consistently show strong support for passenger profiling; a recent ABC/Washington Post survey found 70 percent favoring the general idea of profiling, with 55 percent supporting profiling based on nationality and 40 percent on race. You could blame this on simple bigotry, but the truth is probably more complicated: As Walter Russell Mead wrote in a famous 1999 essay, the libertarianism of the American public is not the libertarianism of the ACLU. Instead, it reflects an ambivalent populist tradition that strongly values equality and liberty–but only among those perceived as productive, law-abiding Americans. When faced with security threats from people who appear to be “aliens” or “outsiders,” however, many Americans are likely to favor a remorseless, take-no-prisoners hostility that takes precedent over liberal and libertarian principles.

About Santi Tafarella

I teach writing and literature at Antelope Valley College in California.
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2 Responses to Ed Kilgore on the old in and out (groups)

  1. andrewclunn says:

    Liberty and justice for all (white land owning men)!

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