Wednesday, June 03, 2009
Let us compare two historical situations. One took place several thousand years ago. The other took place on Monday.
According to legend, during the 13th century B.C., there was a Greek king named Agamemnon. He was bound and determined to attack and raze the city of Troy. When Agamemnon sought to launch his ships for Troy, however, the goddess Artemis sent a stagnant wind to stop Agamemnon’s fleet. Agamemnon responded by calling out his daughter, Iphigenia, and sacrificing her to appease Artemis.
Fast forward to last Monday. In announcing the bankruptcy of General Motors, President Barack Obama spoke directly all those who would lose their jobs and their livelihoods. “I want you to know that what you’re doing is making a sacrifice for the next generation — a sacrifice you may not have chose to make, but a sacrifice you were nevertheless called to make so that your children and all of our children can grow up in an America that still makes things; that still builds cars; that still strives for a better future,” he said.
Obama is fond of calling upon Americans to make sacrifices — or rather, he is fond of forcing Americans into sacrificing themselves at a time and place of his choosing. Heroic sacrifice requires volunteerism, or at least an element of extraordinary choice; Obama’s sort of sacrifice runs along Agamemnon-esque lines. He names the time and the place, and you are expected to put your neck on the altar.
Obama’s sacrificial ideology is particularly egregious because it targets minority groups who can do nothing to defend themselves. Obama targets the taxpaying minority, forcing them to pay for bank bailouts and auto gratuities while falsely promising that taxpayers will earn that money back (when do we get our checks?). He targets GM bondholders, the same folks whose retirement money has been keeping the ailing carmaker afloat; his new bankruptcy plan makes their holdings worthless. He demonizes Chrysler’s investors as “speculators” and attempts to portray them as villains in Chrysler’s demise. He forces banks to take TARP money, then defenestrates bank chiefs and caps executive pay.
It would be one thing if Obama expected all Americans to sacrifice equally. Clearly, however, he does not. He, for one, isn’t willing to sacrifice — he’s ready to spend $24,000 of taxpayer money to take his wife on a date to New York. And Obama doesn’t expect his allies to sacrifice, either. The United Auto Workers, whom Obama has praised for its “sacrifice,” now owns a majority of Chrysler and a huge chunk of GM; not coincidentally, UAW gave millions to Obama’s campaign. Obama refused to bail out California unless it revoked pay cuts for members of the Service Employees International Union; not coincidentally, SEIU gave $33 million to Obama’s campaign.
Obama’s self-centered idea of sacrifice — sacrifice yourself on Obama’s behalf, or he’ll sacrifice you — doesn’t stop at the water’s edge. America’s foreign allies are feeling similar pressure to sacrifice themselves for Obamemnon’s glory. Thus, Obama presses Israel to stop building new houses in Jewish Jerusalem while encouraging Palestinian Arabs to build illegal settlements within Jerusalem. Thus, Obama tacitly allows Iran to develop nuclear weapons and reaches out to the illegitimate mullahs while stifling any freedom movement within Iran. Thus, Obama allows China to violate human rights while offering them the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval for their supposed work on global warming — all in order to entice China to keep buying our debt. Sacrifice, it seems, is only to be made by those who least deserve to make it.
There is one crucial difference between Agamemnon and Obama: Agamemnon led his troops to victory at Troy. Iphigenia was merely an innocent bystander used to accomplish his purposes. Obama, by contrast, is bound to lead America to ruin precisely because of the sacrifices he is forcing upon the most productive Americans and our most important allies.
Obama’s philosophy makes the sacrifice of individual liberty irrelevant to the broader communal good as he defines it. What we are losing on the Altar of Obamemnon is far more than a few bucks — it is the fundamental basis of free government.