Left-liberals are loath to deal with the scourge of terrorism. By and large, they see the people others label “terrorists” as merely malcontents. Enemies? People are, after all, intrinsically good, even if they have, through no fault of their own, turned bad somewhere along the way. Everyone — well, nearly everyone — can be redeemed, no? Call them “militants,” call them “insurgents,” “guerrillas,” go all the way and call them “freedom fighters,” but no, do not call them “enemies.”
There are layers upon layers here. We are dealing with fundamental notions of sin and virtue, of good versus evil, and these are concepts largely absent from the vocabulary and the worldview of the contemporary left. We — yes, I am a confirmed left-liberal — bristled when Ronald Reagan called the Soviet Union an “evil empire,” we snicker (or shudder) at George W. Bush’s Manichaean view of the world, that view that holds that “you are either with us or you are with the terrorists,” a view that simply deletes the vast middle ground, all the gray areas of moral ambiguity. We see that Pat Robertson is in Jerusalem praying with Ehud Olmert and that Dick Cheney is suddenly Israel’s best friend, he and his acolyte hawks who want to make war against Iran. (And, of course, prefer that it be Israel that does the actual fighting.)
But the core of the matter remains, I believe, the reluctance of the left-liberals to accept as a part of our new situation the hard reality of terrorism. Even if we worry privately that Samuel Huntington may have been prescient with his “Clash of Civilizations,” we cling to a rosier view. We remain more concerned with civil liberties than with national security.
Friday, August 18, 2006
Leonard Fein: A Word Liberals Dare Not Speak
Quotes from another good essay in The Forward,