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Harris-Perry Doubles Down, Promoting “Collective Responsibility”

First, television host and university professor Melissa Harris-Perry said that “kids belong to whole communities.” As I pointed out, “a child belongs neither to his parents nor to ‘whole communities,’ but to himself. When someone belongs to someone else or to a group of other people, that person is a slave.”

Ah, but Harris-Perry didn’t really mean it, she claims in a response to her critics. She didn’t mean, for example, that the government may take children away from rights-respecting parents. She says, “That is not what I was talking about, and you know it.”

Leave aside for now why Harris-Perry would make an explicit statement, in a presumably scripted video, which she expects her readers to “know” she didn’t really mean. What position, after further “thought,” does she uphold? She now claims, “We have a collective responsibility to the children of our communities even if we did not conceive and bear them.” This “responsibility,” she suggests, means that the government may forcibly confiscate people’s wealth in order to subject children to government education.

Stepping away from her original position that children are property of the “community,” Harris-Perry now posits that adults are. She argues that “the community”—which, in practice, means whoever controls the government—may force adults to serve the community.

To make her “argument,” Harris-Perry relies on a crude equivocation between forced actions and chosen responsibilities. According to her, the government forcing people to finance the education of others’ children is just like a paid teacher grading a student’s test or a mother volunteering to tutor students. In other words, according to Harris-Perry, a person who finances the education of other people’s children under threat of government coercion—the threat to seize his assets or lock him in a cage—engages in the same sort of “responsibility to the children” as does someone who agrees to teach students for a salary or tutor them for love of the children or the work.

As to why Harris-Perry equivocates on the meaning of her comments, Ayn Rand presciently observed in a 1946 foreword to Anthem:

The greatest guilt today is that of people who accept collectivism by moral default; the people who seek protection from the necessity of taking a stand, by refusing to admit to themselves the nature of that which they are accepting.

Harris-Perry, we do know what you’re talking about, and so do you and your collectivist cohorts. And we who know what you’re talking about—we who understand the nature and implications of your statements—justly condemn your obfuscation, your collectivism, and your rights-violating policies.

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