The Wall vs. Principles

The Department of Homeland Security has started condemnation lawsuits against some Texas property owners. The government is using eminent domain to seize land needed to build the border wall. While repeatedly feeding us stories of the crimes committed by illegal immigrants, the federal government is now embarking on its own crime.

The alleged purpose of the border wall is to keep America safe. But how safe can we be if the government can seize our property whenever it chooses?

Benjamin Franklin once said, “Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.” His words are as true today as they were in the eighteenth century. Those who would abandon the principle of individual rights for safety will soon have neither.

A principle, wrote Ayn Rand

is “a fundamental, primary, or general truth, on which other truths depend.” Thus a principle is an abstraction which subsumes a great number of concretes. It is only by means of principles that one can set one’s long-range goals and evaluate the concrete alternatives of any given moment. It is only principles that enable a man to plan his future and to achieve it.

An exception to a principle invalidates the principle. If individual rights, including property rights, can be violated for a “noble cause,” then they can be violated for any cause. Individual rights no longer exist as a sacrosanct principle, but merely serve as a loose guideline that can be disregarded whenever it is politically expedient.

This is precisely what is happening in regard to the border wall. A large number of Americans support the wall, and if the rights of some land owners along the border must be sacrificed, so be it. But if the property of Americans living in South Texas can be seized today, why should we think that the property of any American won’t be seized tomorrow? And without principles to protect our freedom, that is what will happen.

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