Jewish World Review June 24, 2005 / 17 Sivan,
Questioning their patriotism
Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Ill., has, under extreme pressure,
tearfully retracted his comparison of American behavior at Guantanamo to the
Nazis, Soviets and Pol Pot. Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., has not
retracted his barb following disclosures of detainee mistreatment
at Abu Ghraib, about Saddam's torture chambers being "under new management,
U.S. management." Michael Moore has not regretted his remark, uttered in the
days after September 11, that "we have orphaned too many children . . . with
our taxpayer funded terrorism . . . [so] we shouldn't be too surprised when
those orphans grow up and are a little wacked in the head."
These comments are not aberrational. A measure of
anti-Americanism has come to infect the left worldwide, and American
liberals not only partake, they are the most assiduous popularizers of
America hatred this side of Al-Jazeera.
I know that I have just committed a faux pas. We are all
supposed to indulge the polite fiction that "no one is questioning their
patriotism." And certainly it would be over-generalizing to suggest that all
liberals are anti-American. But neither can there be any doubt that
hostility to, suspicion of, and cynicism about this country are positively
mainstream in liberal precincts; the Democratic Party, the universities
liberals control, and in many crucial areas of American cultural life.
It continues to defy explanation why liberals, who theoretically
love liberty, equality, tolerance and moderation, should find so much to
despise in their own country, which represents the fullest expression of
those virtues anywhere on the globe. Perhaps it is because, as Robert Frost
said, "A liberal is a man too broadminded to take his own side in a
quarrel." Some have speculated that the jingoism of World War I permanently
soured the intellectual classes toward nationalism and inclined liberals
toward reflexive criticism of their own societies. But this is unsatisfying
because 1) it hasn't seemed to have this effect on the French or the
Russians, and 2) liberals have shown great tenderness toward politically
correct nationalisms, like Vietnam's and the Palestinians'.
This brings us to the latest clash between those who despise
this country and those who don't. Debra Burlingame is the sister of Charles
Burlingame, the pilot who died on Flight 77 when it crashed into the
Pentagon. A member of the World Trade Center Memorial Foundation, Burlingame
published an account in The Wall Street Journal of the foundation's plans
for memorializing 9/11. The liberal leadership of the International Freedom
Center (as part of the memorial will be called) includes one-time Marxist
Columbia University Professor Eric Foner and Michael Posner of Human Rights
First, and receives advice from George Soros and Anthony Romero of the ACLU.
The IFC plans, writes Burlingame, not a moving evocation of that
catastrophic day, but instead "a high-tech, multimedia tutorial about man's
inhumanity to man, from Native American genocide to the lynchings and
cross-burnings of the Jim Crow South, from the Third Reich's Final Solution
to the Soviet gulags and beyond. This is a history all should know and
learn, but dispensing it over the ashes of Ground Zero is like creating a
Museum of Tolerance over the sunken graves of the USS Arizona."
Consider a thought experiment: Suppose we were planning a
memorial to honor murdered civil rights workers James Chaney, Michael
Schwerner and Andrew Goodman, whose killer was finally convicted last week
(and, by the way, a memorial is good idea). But what if the proposal
included a section on black-on-black violence? Wouldn't liberals be quick to
object that such a display is beside the point, not to say antithetical to
the spirit of a memorial? They would, and they'd be right.
Richard Tofel, president of the International Freedom Center,
denies that the exhibit will malign the United States. As proof of his bona
fides, he quotes Judge Learned Hand: "The spirit of liberty is the spirit
which is not too sure that it is right; the spirit of liberty is the spirit
which seeks to understand the mind of other men and women." Feel reassured?
Neither do I.
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