Eternal Vigilance Is the Price of Liberty

Bruce Bawer is a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center and the author of “While Europe Slept” and “Surrender.” His book "The Victims' Revolution: The Rise of Identity Studies and the Closing of the Liberal Mind" is just out from Broadside / Harper Collins.

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It was worse, of course, in the pre-Internet age.  It’s strange to remember now how dependent all of us once were for our news on a handful of outlets – three network news operations, a couple of wire services, and, if you lived in certain cities, a newspaper like the New York Times or Washington Post with bureaus around the world.  How dependent – and how credulous.  Younger people who want to get a sense of just how credulous we were in those days, and how limited (and, with few exceptions, lockstep) our sources of information were, need only know that Americans told pollsters that the man they trusted most in the whole world was CBS Evening News anchor Walter Cronkite.

Indeed, so taken in were many of us by mainstream journalism’s myth of its own rectitude, righteousness, and reliability that, after seeing All the President’s Men, we actually idolized Bob Woodward, Carl Bernstein, and the entire Washington Post newsroom, up to and including managing editor and shameless, utterly un-objective JFK hagiographer Ben Bradlee.  We thanked God for the selfless, virtuous journalists who were out there day and night fighting for the truth – and our freedoms – against the perfidies of politicians, businessmen, and others.  It was not until I began to be interviewed (and flagrantly misquoted  and misrepresented) by reporters for reputable outlets that I realized just how integrity-free some prominent practitioners of the journalistic trade could be; and it was not until I spent several months working on a book with Republican congressman Steve Gunderson that I discovered (to my astonishment) that a big-shot politician could actually be an extremely decent and honest human being.

Lucky us that we no longer have to rely for our news exclusively on the mainstream media – that we now have innumerable alternate sources of news and opinion at our very fingertips.  But even in the Internet era, the successors of Ben Bradlee and Uncle Walter continue to enjoy an advantage.  In the minds of many people, the so-called “legacy media” are still accorded a degree of credibility that they often don’t deserve – and, as a result, possess a power to distort the truth that can be chilling when you see it operating at full throttle, as is the case in Norway today.

Eternal vigilance, folks.  Eternal vigilance.

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  • Robert Pinkerton

    I recall a line from an author named Norman Garbo, which has stayed with me decades after I have forgotten the name of the book in which he wrote it: "Eternal paranoia is the price of survival." At the time I wrote it in a notebook, I commented on inflation having driven prices up.

  • Northanhymbre Heathen

    The BBC is a case in point. During the London riots back in August it took them ages to stop calling the feral participants in this display of self-entitled, viciously inadequate youth culture "protesters"!

    Since then, we have the debacle of the London School of Economics and the Guardian newspaper releasing some load of bunkum of a study about how it was, of course, the police and govt who were to blame for other people's bad behaviour during these events. I quote from the LSE website:

    "This is a pathbreaking study of the August riots in England. It reveals the anger and frustration felt by those who were involved in the disorder, in part a product of the unfair and discourteous treatment they feel they suffer at the hands of the police, but also reflecting the disillusionment many feel at the social and economic changes which leave them increasingly disconnected from mainstream society."

    The only thing "pathbreaking" about this study IMO is the sheer breadth of its stupidity and gullibility – as if anyone with even half an ounce of common sense would believe a single word that came out of any of these pampered, street-wise and slick little thugs' mouths! The LSE has lost what little credibility it had over here anyway because of the presence and dealings there of Saif Al Islam Gaddafi, and the Guardian is basically just for left-liberals with candyfloss for brains who want to sound intelligent and morally superior. Of course these types will be quoting this study at dinner parties to support their singularly naive and unhelpful beliefs about "social justice" and "social exclusion" etc, whilst the rest of us remain singularly unimpressed and sceptical.

    It always amazes me though how otherwise intelligent people are willing to believe such nonsense in the press, how they seem to assume "but they're journalists – surely they must know what they're talking about!!" I long ago left behind any idea that journalists were unbiased, basically around the time of 9/11, when we saw such a barrage of disgusting anti-US propaganda spew forth over here in the UK media and press that I would just end up turning off the TV (anyone remember that episode of "Question Time"?) and vowed never to read certain newspapers or take them seriously ever again.

  • Flipside

    Nice try, Bawer, trying to camouflage Breivik’s neoconservative message by making it look like he cited way more people than Robert Spencer.

    • Steeloak

      Reminds me of the way the media relentlessly harped about how hate filled leftists like Al Gore inspired Ted Kaczynski (the Unabomber), or how they constantly repeated how Breivik copied a large portion of Kaczynski's manifesto into his own.

      Oh wait – they didn't!

      • Flipside

        Of course that’s true. But you must have thought you were talking to a leftist.

        • Steeloak

          You have an innovative description of yourself that defines a leftist as something you are not?

          • Flipside

            Everyone who writes for this site is a Shachtmanite communist an Zionist xenophobe. I am a Constitutionalist, a patriot, a libertarian, and a capitalist.

          • Steeloak

            "I am a Constitutionalist, a patriot, a libertarian, and a capitalist."

            As am I, but you don't sound anything like me. But then I am not infected with Ron Paul's lunacy when it comes to War and Foreign Affairs.

          • UCSPanther

            This pathetic troll also praised George Soros as well a while back. Kind of hard to reconcile the values extolled by Ron Paul and George Soros' puppet-mastery.

          • Northanhymbre Heathen

            "But then I am not infected with Ron Paul's lunacy when it comes to War and Foreign Affairs."

            I'm another libertarian who thinks that Ron Paul is basically a dangerous fruitcake. I reckon he should just stick to cookery writing because his political savvy on defense and foreign affairs is apparently minus zero. How some libertarians can be basically sane about everything else but be a sandwich short of a picnic on military matters is beyond me!

          • UCSPanther

            Funny. I thought Communist regimes were also hostile towards their Jewish subjects as a rule.

          • Flipside

            I am pragmatic about Ron Paul. No President, and certainly no candidate at present has both an amazing domestic and an amazing foreign policy. The US is collapsing mostly from it’s domestic economic policy but also because it is in three wars and propping up the EU. Ron Paul is the only candidate who will change that.

    • UCSPanther

      It must be hard for you to see that Brevik was declared insane, a sensible verdict considering that he was claiming to be a "knight templar", a group that was destroyed by Phillip the Fair of France and no longer exists, and hollering that he was a hero for killing misguided albeit innocent people.

      Don't worry though. The EU elite would agree with your bizarre assertion, and they dislike letting a crisis like Brevik go to waste.

      • Flipside

        You mean like when a Muslim professor farts and FPM posts five articles about it?

        • abdul7591

          I don't recall FPM publishing any articles about Muslims farting, only about Muslims engaged in slaughtering people and wanting to dominate the world by imposing Sharia law on it. FPM seems quite capable of discerning the difference between Muslim murderers and Muslim farters. Curious that FPM's "sophisticated" critics don't have that ability.

      • scum

        Tortured into oblivion, they were. And unfairly, I might add, by 'The Fair.'

  • Tanstaafl

    Is it true that when Muslims break wind, it sounds like “Allahu Akbar” backwards?

    • scum

      I believe that was one of the 'farts' alluded to by Flipside above. Muslims committing 'farticide,' I suppose it's called.

  • Scourge of Islam

    The greatest threat to world peace is islam. if Muslims would renounce sharia & koranic imperialism (ie; conquer the world for Allah, exterminate world jewry and enslave the "infidels") then we could live in a semblance of peace. Otherwise, Islam will have to be destroyed. Islam is a misogymistic, imperialistic theology that condones slavery, torture, & women abuse. Islam is anathema to both western concepts of human rights & the UN's human rights declarations. If I were President, after 9/11, I would have nuked all of your devil (allah) worshippers, with that stupid black rock y'all worship being the first target.

  • Northanhymbre Heathen

    "If I were President, after 9/11, I would have nuked all of your devil (allah) worshippers, with that stupid black rock y'all worship being the first target."

    Woah NO! Don't blame Allah and his black rock – Allah is a name of a very ancient Arabic lunar deity (as I suspect you're aware), and his black rock predates Islam (as does praying 5 times a day toward Mecca, Haj, throwing stones to ward off evil etc etc) No – if only the Arabs could be encouraged to liberate themselves from the words of the false prophet Mohammed and his hateful doctrines, then they could continue to worship Allah with all the trappings of his traditional pre-Islamic rites (well, ok, the animal sacrifices could probably be left behind these days) and everyone would be free and happy, women would be a lot better off, and all the rest of us infidels could stop worrying about being kidnapped and beheaded or blown up. Don't dismiss the magic and profundity of Paganism just because we adherents of it have a bit of a different view of divinity than you do! We don't proselytise or expect everyone to convert to our religions, we're pluralistic, we respect women (by and large), and we're happy to live alongside Jews and Christians (so long as Christians don't go all medieval on us and come and burn down our temples and destroy our idols again! Just kidding..sort of ;-)) Look at the rest of the world – is it Hindus or sub-Saharan Animists who are threatening western civilization? Do we Pagan idolators seek to conquer the whole world and make everyone into dhimmis? NO – the Arabs could do a lot worse than convert back to an updated version of their old religion, and it would allow them some hope, dignity and pride in their ancient culture in my opinion. There were some great Pagan Arabs – Porphyry the Syrian is one example (at least I think he was an Arab), and he was a great philosopher. There are probably many more I know nothing about. Lots of people in Iran are converting back to traditional Persian religion (Zoroastrianism) too because they're sick of Islam (they do this at risk to their lives, as do those who convert to Christianity in that country – both groups deserve our support I think!)

    So no, DON'T destroy the black rock at Mecca – it might have a beneficial use in the future should the REAL faith of Allah ever be revived!

    Allahu Akbar! (and I mean here the real Allah, the ancient moon god, not the Islamic pretend one!)