Home  |   Jihad Watch  |   Horowitz  |   Archive  |   Columnists  |     DHFC  |  Store  |   Contact  |   Links  |   Search Tuesday, March 20, 2018
FrontPageMag Article
Write Comment View Comments Printable Article Email Article
Fighting Words By: Lowell Ponte
FrontPageMagazine.com | Friday, April 26, 2002

"HER VOICE IS AS PURE AND CLEAR as a snowmelt mountain stream – and about as warm," a critic once said of folksinger Joan Baez. The same description fits this bracing, brief sermon by co-director of Empower America Bill Bennett.

Bennett’s passion is education of the young, and this book seems written to buck up high school and college students who might be intimidated by Left-leaning teachers, professors, fashionable intellectuals and popular opinion-makers.

"The problem," he writes, is not that a majority of Americans lack patriotism in the wake of last September 11’s terrorist attacks, but "that those who are unpatriotic are, culturally, the most influential among us."

Our nation was morally unprepared for this attack, he argues, and to win the ongoing war against terrorism we must strap on the armor of righteousness in this cause. This book is his offering of ammunition to assist America’s moral re-armament.

His aim is to strengthen those who waver, especially college students "who actually wanted to show solidarity with their country but found themselves inhibited to the point of speechlessness by what they had been taught about its fundamental inequities and flaws."

On many college campuses, Bennett reminds us, students were discouraged from so much as displaying American flags, because this would either make foreign students feel "unwelcome" or give support to war by an "imperialistic" America.

"Do you have to use the word patriotism?" he quotes one professor as saying. "It makes many of us uncomfortable."

"I’m not sure which is more frightening," said Columbia University ultra-Leftist historian Eric Foner: "the horror that engulfed New York City [on September 11] or the apocalyptic rhetoric emanating daily from the White House."

"What atrocious rot," writes Bennett in response to Foner and his intellectual ilk. "It was all part of the culture wars, and it cost them nothing to say whatever wild and reckless things they pleased about their country and its leaders – on the contrary, they were richly rewarded for it, and they were winning."

"If our aim is to indoctrinate students with unpatriotic beliefs," Foner said sardonically in response to an outburst of student patriotism after September 11, "we’re obviously doing a very poor job of it."

[My memory fails; was it Eric or his radical labor historian father I met decades ago in Havana when I was in Communist Cuba doing a piece for the Los Angeles Times?]

In his vivisection of the positions of Leftist intellectuals, Bennett slices through their high-blown rhetoric of moral equivalence, multiculturalism, moral relativism, cultural deconstructist post-modernism and pseudo-pacifism to reveal under these academic disguises the ugly face of anti-Americanism.

The bottom line for such Leftists is that America’s evil created Osama bin Laden, and that America deserves to be hated, attacked and destroyed. The hatred of America by foreign terrorists is scarcely distinguishable from that taught by our own university intellectuals. The one difference is that Osama believes in a God, while our academics tend to be atheists who worship in the irrational cult of Karl Marx.

Attacks by both terrorists and intellectuals against Israel, the "Little Satan," he argues, are really surrogate attacks against the "Great Satan" United States that shares Israel’s moral, cultural and political values.

(This reviewer would go a step farther. It has been said that anti-Catholicism is today’s "intellectually-acceptable" equivalent of anti-Semitism, and this has been evident in the pundit piling-on over current scandals. But the current piling-on against Israel reveals that some Leftist intellectuals never ceased being closet anti-Semites who were merely waiting for the next opportunity to join a mob pushing Jews into ovens or the Jewish State into the sea.)

Had the Communism these same Leftists supported been triumphant, of course, they would have been among the first gassed or Gulag-ed. Likewise, notes Bennett, intellectuals today are applauding Islamic radicals who if empowered would promptly chop off their heads.

And Leftist intellectuals have adopted the bizarre position that Muslim radicals who dehumanized and enslaved women and systematically killed homosexuals in Afghanistan, and who mutilate the genitals of baby girls in Africa, are morally superior to American values of tolerance and freedom.

"Those who ‘abjure’ violence can only do so because others are committing violence on their behalf," Bennett quotes George Orwell as writing during World War II. Even Joan Baez, he notes, could not have sung freely about injustice in an unfree, unjust society. Protected by the shield of America’s national defense and Bill of Rights, our fat and smug intellectuals enjoy the "moral luxury" of fastidiously scorning our military and culture and praising societies that allow no dissent or other human rights.

Harvard University, Bennett observes, refuses to permit ROTC on campus because of the military’s "don’t ask, don’t tell" policy towards homosexuals. But, he writes, "while closing the door to ROTC, Harvard accepts money from the wealthy and powerful bin Laden family of Saudi Arabia…whose infamous scion stood behind the attack on our soil….untroubled by the policy of the Saudi regime [that] on January 1…announced its first three beheadings of the year for homosexual conduct. What do these facts tell us about where the university chooses to draw its moral lines?"

Bennett also has criticism for a few on the Right who called September 11’s attacks God’s punishment for American sin. Our sinners, said the Reverend Jerry Falwell, were "the pagans and the abortionists and the feminists and the gays." Our culture’s sins were its "false deities [of] nominalism, materialism, secularism, and pluralism," all of which Joel Belz of Marvin Olasky’s World Magazine "saw symbolized in the twin towers of the World Trade Center."

These particular sins and sinners are the same ones denounced in the anti-American rhetoric of Osama bin Laden himself, and this attack on capitalism and materialism is the same made by ivy-covered Leftist intellectuals.

"The ideas of [Rev. Jerry] Falwell and the other blame-America types on the Christian Right were roundly condemned by most conservatives, including me," writes Bennett.

Bill Bennett himself embodies the internal contradictions and amusing paradoxes that great and free societies produce. He was, e.g., America’s drug czar while a nicotine-addicted chain smoker.

He is a moralist, a national scold, and author of such fine best-sellers as The Book of Virtues, The Moral Compass and The Death of Outrage. But his own family’s values also produced brother Bob Bennett, lawyer and chief defender of the un-virtuous, immoral (but definitely outrageous) abominations of President Bill Clinton.

In Why We Fight, Bill Bennett condemns the Taliban for outlawing Afghan music and freedom of choice, but he never mentions that he was part of Tipper Gore’s moralist circle demanding that government impose content labels on American musical recordings.

Although intended to arm students with ideas and information to refute their Leftist teachers, this book was apparently written in such haste that it contains no footnotes, no documentation nor bibliography of sources, to give it scholarly weight. Bennett lacked either the concern or the few hours’ time to produce an index. These omissions are odd in a book by an intellectual written to refute other intellectuals. It makes Why We Fight weaker than it could or should have been.

Even so, and despite its prose so coolly abstract and Jesuitically analytical as to be almost bloodless, those who love America will find much to savor and share with others in Why We Fight. Bennett offers a brisk, refreshing change from the overheated, name-calling spats that nowadays have supplanted thoughtful and engaging debate on these issues.

As goes the old saying in Sicily (perhaps learned from Arabs who once occupied it) that is echoed by Ricardo Montalban’s Khan in the movie Star Trek II: "Revenge is a dish best served cold."

Mr. Ponte co-hosts a national radio talk show Monday through Friday 6-8 PM Eastern Time (3-5 PM Pacific Time) on the Genesis Communications Network. Internet Audio worldwide is at GCNlive .com. The show's live call-in number is 1-800-259-9231. A professional speaker, he is a former Roving Editor for Reader's Digest.

We have implemented a new commenting system. To use it you must login/register with disqus. Registering is simple and can be done while posting this comment itself. Please contact gzenone [at] horowitzfreedomcenter.org if you have any difficulties.
blog comments powered by Disqus

Home | Blog | Horowitz | Archives | Columnists | Search | Store | Links | CSPC | Contact | Advertise with Us | Privacy Policy

Copyright©2007 FrontPageMagazine.com