No Sacred Ground

by | Jan 11, 2021

The coverage of the riot at the U.S. Capitol last week was annoying to say the least — what went on was no insurrection or attempted coup; it was just an end-in-itself temper tantrum committed by a bunch of idiots who never believed after Nov. 3 that they would actually prevent Joe Biden from being inaugurated at noon on Jan. 20.

Perhaps most annoying of all about the coverage was the barely veiled premise that the Capitol is a temple on sacred ground. Let’s not fall for that nationalist bunk. I find it ironic that those who speak in such tones say they oppose nationalism, which is nothing but a body of state-worshiping dogma, sacraments, and rituals. They just don’t like a particular branch of the church, that’s all. So what’s new?

Let’s be clear: there is no sacred ground or holy buildings. The posers who are called “representatives” and who occupy such places have no more access to the Will of The People than the high priests had to Yahweh back in the day.

But okay, if we must use such honorifics, let’s at least reserve them for justly acquired private property. (There is such a thing, and it rules out acquisition through government privilege.) After all, in theory (though not in reality), democracy is said to exist for the sake of people (not the people). And people, being mortal and individual, can neither flourish nor cooperate with others without being able to acquire and control parcels of land and objects. The only rule must be that you do so justly, that is, without violating the same rights of others. This comes down to a prohibition on the initiation of force. (I say plenty about this in What Social Animals Owe to Each Other, available at a Libertarian Institute near you.)

So, again, if we have to talk in such terms — and really we don’t — Starbucks and the corner hardware store are more sacred than any government building, which was built with the proceeds from extortion, otherwise known as taxation. This doesn’t justify or excuse what Trump’s infantile horde did on Jan. 6, but it’s a fact nonetheless.

About Sheldon Richman

Sheldon Richman is the executive editor of The Libertarian Institute, senior fellow and chair of the trustees of the Center for a Stateless Society, and a contributing editor at Antiwar.com. He is the former senior editor at the Cato Institute and Institute for Humane Studies, former editor of The Freeman, published by the Foundation for Economic Education, and former vice president at the Future of Freedom Foundation. His latest books are Coming to Palestine and What Social Animals Owe to Each Other.

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