Thursday, October 12, 2006

The enemies within

The whole "treasonous liberals" meme has been bubbling along for some time now, starting probably with Ann Coulter and Michael Savage. It's significant for many reasons, not the least of which is the trend toward eliminationist rhetoric it deeply reflects.

But it's reaching new heights, so to speak, with the pending publication this January of Dinesh D'Souza's new book, The Enemy at Home: The Cultural Left and Its Responsibility for 9/11. This is not just another Regnery mass-sales job, the publisher is Doubleday. D'Souza, despite a career built on some dubious racial theories, is nonetheless a fellow at Stanford's Hoover Institute and a frequent guest on the cable gabfests.

James Wolcott regales us with some appropriate samples from the manuscript, including this capper:
"There is no way to restore the culture without winning the war on terror. Conversely, the only way to win the war on terror is to win the culture war. Thus we arrive at a sobering truth. In order to crush the Islamic radicals abroad, we must defeat the enemy at home."

As Wolcott says:
We're not the enemy, and if you engage us as the enemy, all you'll be doing is starting yet another war you can't win.

D'Souza's is something of a fresh variation on the standard theme against liberals, one voiced unmistakably a little while ago by Michael Barone:
Our covert enemies are harder to identify, for they live in large numbers within our midst. And in terms of intentions, they are not enemies in the sense that they consciously wish to destroy our society. On the contrary, they enjoy our freedoms and often call for their expansion. But they have also been working, over many years, to undermine faith in our society and confidence in its goodness. These covert enemies are those among our elites who have promoted the ideas labeled as multiculturalism, moral relativism and (the term is Professor Samuel Huntington's) transnationalism.

We have always had our covert enemies, but their numbers were few until the 1960s. But then the elite young men who declined to serve in the military during the Vietnam War set out to write a narrative in which they, rather than those who obeyed the call to duty, were the heroes. They have propagated their ideas through the universities, the schools and mainstream media to the point that they are the default assumptions of millions. Our covert enemies don't want the Islamo-fascists to win. But in some corner of their hearts, they would like us to lose.

But D'Souza expands on this theme to suggest that the very source of Muslim radicals' hostility is the same liberalism to which he and his fellows on the right are nearly as hostile themselves.

Michael Berube earlier gave us a heads-up about this book, and quotes from the press release:
D'Souza shows that liberals—people like Hillary Clinton, Ted Kennedy, Barney Frank, Bill Moyers, and Michael Moore -- are responsible for fostering a culture that angers and repulses not just Muslim countries but also traditional and religious societies around the world. Their outspoken opposition to American foreign policy -- including the way the Bush administration is conducting the war on terror—contributes to the growing hostility, encouraging people both at home and abroad to blame America for the problems of the world. He argues that it is not our exercise of freedom that enrages our enemies, but our abuse of that freedom—from the sexual liberty of women to the support of gay marriage, birth control, and no-fault divorce, to the aggressive exportation of our vulgar, licentious popular culture.

The cultural wars at home and the global war on terror are usually viewed as separate problems. In this groundbreaking book, D'Souza shows that they are one and the same. It is only by curtailing the left's attacks on religion, family, and traditional values that we can persuade moderate Muslims and others around the world to cooperate with us and begin to shun the extremists in their own countries.

OK, suppose we take for granted D'Souza's logic: We liberals are the source of the cultural animus to which the jihadis are violently opposed.

Doesn't that, by the same logic, place right-wingers like D'Souza and the whole range of conservative ideologues on the side of Al Qaeda?

Isn't he essentially saying that the terrorists are right to have this animus?

Isn't his solution -- suppressing liberalism -- essentially a capitulation to the anti-democratic "Islamofascism" everyone else on the right has been steadily denouncing?

I'm looking forward to reading the book so I can figure this out for myself. Though, knowing D'Souza, I'm guessing there will be some handy bits of sophistry that let him leap over the hard rocks of logic.

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