"As for our common defense, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals."
-- President Obama, addressing the nation
"If you can't tell me what's wrong with your candidate or ideology, sit on some other bar stool, bub."
-- Me, bloviating on the Internets
It has struck me lately that we all too often perceive a miraculous purity in how the universe works. That is, if everyone just followed your beliefs related to politics and economics and morality, there would be no trade offs. Your beliefs result in both moral superiority and practical benefit. There would be no trade offs, say, to pick something randomly, between safety and ideals.
If you want to live in a fantasy world in your head, fine. If you want to live in the same world as the rest of us, then there is no meaning to your ideology if you do not have to accept and acknowledge the bad that comes with the good.
Do you, like me, find the idea of the U.S. engaging in torture extremely distasteful at minimum and possibly completely unacceptable at maximum? If so, you don't get to also claim "torture doesn't work anyway". Maybe it doesn't, but it doesn't matter. If you actually believe torture is wrong in all cases (I won't go that far, but I go pretty far), then your belief is only meaningful and moral if you are willing to clearly and publicly say that you don't think we should torture even if it would help prevent terrorist attacks. If you can't say both, then you are pretending the world works exactly the way you want in all cases, not however it happens to play out in reality.
Do you believe we shouldn't profile people in airports and wire tap domestic conversations because it's an erosion of liberty? Great, but you don't get to base your argument on the idea that "it doesn't do any good anyway" and (as I've heard from colleagues) "there wouldn't have been any more terrorist attacks if we hadn't taken military action and hadn't passed the Patriot act" -- you have to stand up and say, "We should not wire tap domestic calls even if it means we suffer more deaths in this country as a result." I happen to think there are few restrictions on liberty we should accept in response to terrorism...and I think we should accept that in fact more of us will be killed as a result. But the principle of liberty is worth it.
Is it worth it to you? If not, then examine yourself and realize if you can't accept the possible consequences of your beliefs without magically wishing them away then you may not actually believe in what you think you do.