"Over the past fifty years, something on the order of a half-million Americans have been killed by liberal policies."
That line appears to have gotten to people, as it should. Among the many welcome comments on my piece on Christopher Buckley, a number both on AT and elsewhere referred to that statement -- my contention that liberalism is not only a failed ideology, but a deadly one, an ideology that kills, and kills in large numbers. Many of the comments called it "incredible", "unbelievable" and "shocking".
That's in no way difficult to understand. Achieving awareness of the lethal nature of liberalism's excesses is much the same as coming to realize that your friendly, familiar neighborhood is actually overrun by vampires.
But while there's no such thing as vampires, there are such things as killer governments. And as the record clearly shows, the federal government of the United States of America -- that is, the government that rules and orders the lives of almost everyone reading this page -- must take its place among them. Not as a monster state, like Nazi Germany or the Soviet Union, but as a kind of halfwit state, one that kills not out of malice but out of stupidity, lack of attention, and softheaded idealism. But whatever the motives, the dead remain still all the same.
The topic was originally suggested to me by an AT reader - which gives us a solid idea of the caliber of this site's readers -- who asked, "Is there such a thing as a Black Book of Liberalism, like those dealing with Nazism and communism?" I had to admit that there wasn't but that -- as I'm sure that reader intended -- there certainly ought to be. And it would have to be a book. An article or essay simply wouldn't do. It needed that heft, and required that impact. The concept takes in too much history, too many years, and too many topics, to be dealt with on a smaller scale.
Among those topics is that of crime. When liberals in the late 1950s decided to tackle crime, how did they go about it? Through the strange means of decriminalizing criminals. Lowering prison sentences, emphasizing rehabilitation over punishment, community action over policing. A series of Supreme Court decisions followed -- Mapp, Escebedo, Miranda -- disrupting the criminal justice system and effectively evening the odds between criminals and the public.
And the result? Beginning in 1964 -- the year of the Escebedo decision -- the murder rate shot up as if strapped to a rocket. Within a few years it exceeded 10,000. By the mid 70s that number had nearly doubled. Rapes, assaults, robberies and other violent crimes mushroomed as well. It went on for thirty years, with terrified neighborhoods taken over by thugs, entire cities destroyed by crime. All the while, liberal experimentation continued: prisoner rights, legal bans on executions, special release programs. It ended (if, in fact, it has ended) only with the restoration of public order by people like Rudy Guiliani.
A deficit of 260,000 Americans were murdered during this period. Over a quarter of a million people, dead before their time, many under the most terrifying circumstances conceivable. It is possible that no family in the United States has not been at least indirectly affected.
We can add the CAFE standards, federal regulations dictating mileage rates for new cars. The only method of achieving the drastic new rates was by cutting automobile size and weight, increasing impact dangers to drivers and passengers. Studies by Harvard University and the Brookings Institution suggest that the numbers of ensuing deaths may exceed 120,000.
Then consider the mentally ill tossed out onto the streets unprepared and unsupervised as a money-saving measure beginning in the early 1970s. The aged veterans thrown out of VA hospitals today. The banning of halon, the single most effective fire retardant, with no suitable replacement. The children murdered while in the hands of state family-service agencies. (For an example of this type of atrocity, read this account of a young girl who escaped death by a whisker while agents of our government, paid for with our taxes, looked on.) AIDS policy, drug policy, immigration policy... we could fill a page with no more than the list itself. While the actual numbers remain hazy -- no one is keeping track, after all -- there can be no question that the death rate caused by government intervention is no less than horrifying.
Moving out into the world at large, we will examine the banning of DDT, implicated in the deaths of up to 30 million malaria victims -- most of them children. And the foreign policy initiatives so brightly informed by liberal idealism in such places as Vietnam, Cambodia, Nicaragua, Iran, and Zimbabwe. Now we're talking real numbers.
It will come as no news to readers of this site that liberal policies tend to fail. But some of them fail catastrophically. And when they do, they kill. They kill in large numbers. They have been killing for decades, and they will continue to kill for as long as we allow it.
The process is called democide, the murder of a populace by its own government. It can occur through malice, or indifference, or through incompetence. Almost always, it is instigated by an ideology -- fascism, Nazism, communism... and liberalism. According to Dr. R.J. Rummel, the sole scholar of democide (you'd think there would be droves of researchers working on such a critical topic -- but you'd be wrong), 262 million people have died by such means over the past century. Against that number, a half-million is a bagatelle, a drop in the bucket.
But it happened in our country. It happened in America.
The book I've written is provisionally titled "American Democide: Liberalism and the Politics of Death" --- though can be improved. The manuscript is now effectively finished, and ready to make the rounds. I've written books before this, and I'll write others afterward. But this one is different. I'm not so arrogant (believe it or not) to think it will change anything when it appears. But I will say this: in a time when liberalism appears to be resurgent nationwide, and may soon be in a position to inflict yet another series of lethal policies on the people of this country, the facts in this book can act as a new weapon to arm the opposition, when the old ones seem to be losing their edge.
Liberals have turned their backs on the price of their gaudy little dreams. They have walked away from their failures and their victims, all the while posing as the humane, the decent, the moral superior. It's time for that mask to come off.
J.R. Dunn is consulting editor of American Thinker.