Why Don't We Mind Our Own Business?

"You can fool some of the people all of the time," said W.C. Fields quoting Lincoln, "and those odds are good enough for me." Fields also said that, in a presidential election, he never voted for anyone, only against, and this time around contrarians could have, well, a Field day, since George W. Bush and Al Gore have joined forces to snooker the American people on virtually every subject, from taxes to education to foreign policy. They both agreed, for example, that the American people were morally obliged to violate U.S., Cuban, and international laws by stealing a six-year-old Cuban boy from his father.

Why should we be surprised? Both parties have also agreed that it is right to murder Iraqi and Serbian children to express our disapproval of the governments that are making their lives miserable. The two Catholic candidates in the race, Patrick Buchanan and Joseph Sobran, have seen through the bad logic (and bad faith) that has turned the United States into the leading terrorist nation on the planet, but neither can see that the same puritanical busybodying is at work in the Elian Gonzalez case. There is still hope for Joe and Pat: I can remember when they were both what they would now call war-mongering imperialists, and they have grown out of that phase.

The underlying fallacy in the Elian Gonzalez case is that Americans somehow owe the rest of the world something—a chance for freedom, a higher...

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