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The 3 most important things today (so far): Asia Bibi, Royal baby, Hayek birthday

This morning three events took place that deserve the attention of those who support a free and virtuous society: Persecuted Christian Asia Bibi has received asylum in Canada, the royal baby’s name has been revealed, and it is the birthday of one of the greatest economic theorists of our time.

1Asia Bibi arrives safely in Canada

Asia Bibi, the Pakistani convert to Christianity who spent years on death row for “blasphemy,” has arrived safely in Canada to be with her family. Authorities arrested Bibi (whose name is Asia Noreen) after a disagreement with fellow villagers in June 2009, and a court convicted her of blaspheming Islam in 2010. The Pakistani Supreme Court overturned the conviction due to lack of evidence last October, touching off nationwide riots.

However, Bibi was not allowed to leave the nation, first pending judicial review and then because no nation was willing to receive her. UK Prime Minister Theresa May refused to grant Bibi asylum for fear of violent reprisals. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau deserves credit for his high-profile embrace of Bibi, who arrived safely on Canadian soil this morning, according to family attorney Saif-ul Malook. A family member says “Canadian authorities will keep the family under tight security.” Even in another hemisphere, their lives are endangered.

Rep. Chris Smith, R-NJ, greeted the news by saying Bibi “deserves to live a life without fear after experiencing a harrowing ordeal of a false blasphemy conviction, prison, death row, and death threats. After so much international attention on this case, Pakistan’s Supreme Court should be commended for overturning Asia Bibi’s baseless death sentence, but there are at least 40 Christians, Ahmadis, and other religious minorities on death row or serving life sentences on blasphemy charges right now.”

Her case underscores how fundamental, and endangered, conscience rights are.

2. Prince Harry and Meghan Markle reveal royal name

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle revealed the name of their newborn son: Archie HarrisonMountbatten-Windsor. The royal heir was born at 5:36 a.m. on Monday, May 6 at 7 pounds, 3 ounces. Until late this morning (or early afternoon London time), the child had been called only “Baby Sussex.”

Archie is Queen Elizabeth II’s eighth great-grandchild. He is also seventh in the line of royal succession behind Prince Charles, Prince of Wales; Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, and his children Prince George, Princess Charlotte, and Prince Louis; and Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex.

Contrary to many media reports, Archie will not be the first biracial royal family member but is the first since the time of Queen Charlotte, who reigned from 1761 to 1818. That includes the time of the American Revolution; this child may be the first royal to become a dual U.S.-UK citizen.

The royal couple released the child’s first photo the same way they announced his conception: on Instagram:

 

 

 

 

 

 

View this post on Instagram

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Today The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are delighted to share their first public moment as a family. They are so incredibly grateful for the warm wishes and support they’ve received from everyone around the world, since welcoming their son two days ago. Photo cred: Chris Allerton ©️Sussex royal

A post shared by The Duke and Duchess of Sussex (@sussexroyal) on 

As we say in the Eastern Christian tradition (into which the child’s great-grandfather, Prince Philip, was born): God, grant him many years.

3Today is Friedrich von Hayek’s 120th birthday

Friedrich August von Hayek, the Nobel Prize-winning economist best known for The Road to Serfdom, would have turned 120 years old today. Hayek fled the clutches of totalitarianism. He exposed the impossibility of central planning by any government, whether fascist or socialist, in his essay “The Use of Knowledge in Society.” He received the Nobel Prize for economics in 1975. And he survived to perform what appeared to be socialism’s postmortemin 1992’s The Fatal Conceit.

Despite the crude caricature of the Austrian as a base “homo economicus” forever calculating and re-calculating marginal utility, Hayek understood the vital role a free and virtuous society (based on moral precepts like honesty) plays in facilitating free exchange.

Kai Weiss writes in his tribute at the Austrian Economics Center:

This does not mean that the economy could simply do whatever it wants. Indeed, as Hayek pointed out, a free economy would also need the moral foundations that supplement the economy and prevent it from going rogue. Social institutions, mores, traditions, and habits, having developed over decades and centuries not by the government, but by the actions of individuals themselves interacting with one another, would act as a check against those results of the market we do not like. That is, a free society would need a healthy civil society next to a free economy.

I would add that Hayek’s words continue to remain relevant to today’s headlines. Hayek wrote that collectivism thrives on coerced acts of putative virtue:

What our generation is in danger of forgetting is not only that morals are of necessity a phenomenon of individual conduct but also that they can exist only in the sphere in which the individual is free to decide for himself  … Responsibility, not to a superior, but to one’s conscience, the awareness of a duty not exacted by compulsion, the necessity to decide which of the things one values are to be sacrificed to others, and to bear the consequences of one’s own decision, are the very essence of any morals which deserve the name.

That applies to Anne Frank, and Cardinal Mindszenty, and Asia Bibi, and the nameless, faceless, and endless victims crushed beneath the mob’s will to power.

(Photo credit: Pictured, Asia BibiHazteOir.org. This picture has been cropped. CC BY-SA 2.0.)


Rev. Ben Johnson is a senior editor at the Acton Institute. His work focuses on the principles necessary to create a free and virtuous society in the transatlantic sphere (the U.S., Canada, and Europe). He earned his Bachelor of Arts in History summa cum laude from Ohio University and was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa.