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Jewish World Review Feb. 11, 2002 /29 Shevat, 5762

David Limbaugh

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Flagging moral confusion -- PRESIDENT BUSH told the audience at the National Prayer Breakfast that the heroes of Sept. 11 "were not confused about the difference between right and wrong. They knew the difference." Regrettably, however, others are confused.

Much of this moral confusion seems to intersect with a certain strain of anti-Americanism. Take American writer Norman Mailer, for example, who recently registered concern over the "patriotic fever" that has gripped the United States following the terrorist attacks. "America has an almost obscene infatuation with itself ... The right wing benefited so much from Sept. 11 that, if I were still a conspiratorialist, I would believe they'd done it," said Mailer.

The article from which these quotes were extracted reminds us that Mailer "gained notoriety for stabbing the second of his six wives 40 years ago." Another article quotes Mailer as criticizing President Bush for labeling Iran, Iraq and North Korea as "an axis of evil." "The fact is," said Mailer, "I don't trust a man who uses the word evil 18 times in 10 minutes ... If you're half evil, nothing soothes you more than to think the person you are opposed to is totally evil."

Mailer's moral confusion and his aversion to patriotism bring to mind the four congressional Democrats who refused to vote in favor of a resolution sending birthday greetings to former President Ronald Reagan on his 91st birthday. One of those four, not surprisingly, was the only House member to vote against the congressional resolution in support of the war against terrorism.

Next on the list is the International Olympic Committee (IOC), which initially ruled that American athletes would be forbidden from carrying the only American flag that survived the World Trade Center attacks into Friday's opening ceremonies in Salt Lake City. (Speaking of moral confusion, it should be noted that the Red Cross and others will distribute some 250,000 condoms to Olympic visitors in "safe sex packs.")

According to the IOC, the flag "makes too much of a political statement." Even one of the American IOC members, Anita DeFrantz, defended the IOC's ruling, saying "every country in the IOC has issues."

Issues? Political statement? This fuzzyheaded thinking is a direct result of the world becoming contaminated with the insidious poisons of moral relativism and political correctness. We must not dishonor the victims and heroes of the terrorist attacks by reducing this manifestly just cause against terrorism into a mere political issue.

This war-torn American flag does not represent so-called narrow American interests, but is emblematic of a universal struggle by civilized societies against one of the world's most demonstrable and dangerous evils. As Steven Push of Families of September 11 observed, "This is not a political issue. It's a humanity issue."

Yet there are those who can't get past their revulsion at the flag and flag-waving. Salon writer Bruce Kluger said, "If the fallout from Sept. 11 has taught us anything, it's that America tends to look at the world through red-white-and-blue-colored lenses, touting the glories of her own culture at the expense of understanding the complexities and richness of others." Please speak for yourself there, Bruce.

Why does everything have to be a zero-sum game for liberals -- an us against them scenario. Why can't we Americans appreciate our own culture without being accused of disrespecting others?

What is really going on here is that some people in the world, including far too many Americans, can't see past their anti-Americanism to understand this war for what it is. It's the same kind of palpable resentment against this country that led the New Jersey Department of education (before it was pressured to reverse itself) to omit the names of the founding fathers, the Pilgrims and the Mayflower from the state's proposed history standards last month. It's the same kind of knee-jerk anti-capitalist sentiment that prompted Bill Clinton to tell his soulmate student audience at Berkeley that America's long-term security depends less on military strategy and more on shoring up poorer economies around the world. "Half the world was left out of the economic expansion," said Clinton -- as if that is America's fault.

News Flash: It appears for now that the IOC has reversed itself on the flag ban. But don't let victory in this small battle lull you into believing that the war has been won. The sentiment giving rise to the initial ban remains among many, which is another way of saying that a significant number of nations oppose our war against terrorism. That's a sobering thought.

David Limbaugh, a columnist and attorney a practicing in Cape Girardeau, Mo., is the author of the just-released exposť about corruption in the Clinton-Reno Justice Department, "Absolute Power." Send your comments to him by clicking here.