Why does a large portion of the Islamic world hate America? Since 9-11, media pundits, government officials, and academics have obsessed over the question. Ignored is a more troubling and perplexing problem: Why does the American Left hate America?
In the year since the bloodiest attack on U.S. soil, the familiar bastions of the Left have been awash with anti-Americanism.
“The war on terrorism is terrorism,” proclaimed actor Woody Harrelson. “The whole thing is just bullshit.” The National Education Association warned teachers to avoid assigning blame for the 9-11 attacks: “In this country, we still believe that all people are innocent until solid, reliable evidence from our legal authorities proves otherwise.” The NEA then asked its members to use their classrooms to “discuss historical instances of American intolerance.” Berkeley, Sacramento, Amherst, and points beyond were the site of flag-burnings. Author Alice Walker, feminist leader Gloria Steinem, actor Ed Asner, and dozens of other celebrity intellectuals hyperbolically blasted the war on terrorism as “unjust, immoral, and illegitimate.” These signatories of the infamous petition “Not in Our Name” announced, “we call on all Americans to resist the war and repression that has been loosed on the world by the Bush administration.” The petition included an obligatory statement claiming that the signatories “mourned” 9-11, but gratuitously added, “even as we recalled similar scenes in Baghdad, Panama City and, a generation ago, Vietnam.”
On campus, the response was even more despicable, particularly in the immediate aftermath of the attacks. Officials at Holy Cross, Lehigh, and numerous other schools ordered the removal of American flags that had annoyed them. Resident assistants at Central Michigan scoured the halls of a dormitory tearing down patriotic images deemed “offensive.” On the day of the attacks, Marquette banned a group of students from holding a moment of silence around an American flag. A University of Colorado student declared, “we had it coming,” while a Wake Forest scribe opined, “sometimes it is our fault.” Most infamously, New Mexico Professor Richard Berthold shamelessly announced on 9-11: “Anyone who can blow up the Pentagon would get my vote.”
Should the Left’s reaction be at all shocking?
For years, the Left’s programmatic response to any ill that had befallen the world was to blame the United States. America was the obvious victim of 9-11, yet following the carnage the Left deferred to their familiar script—it’s all America’s fault.
Of greater relevance, the institutions that were targeted by Islamic terrorists on 9-11 had been the target of Leftist rhetoric and violence for decades. In the fall of 1920, an anti-capitalist bombing on Wall Street killed 40. In the 1960s and ’70s, the Weathermen bombed the Pentagon, robbed lower-Manhattan financial institutions, set off explosives in a New York City police station, and perpetrated acts of terrorism throughout the country. In the 1980s, E.L. Doctorow spoke for many when he professed, “The Pentagon and the Stock Exchange are in the eighties the twin images of our idolatry,” noting that there was something “really rotten in America right now.”
The Left had rhetorically and violently targeted the same places—the centers of America’s military power and financial might—hit by the terrorists on 9-11. What the American Left failed to do—destroy “the twin images of our idolatry”—their foreign allies nearly accomplished. Why should we be surprised at the American Left’s reaction to 9-11 and the War on Terrorism? While the domestic Left’s rationale for hating America may be different than the Islamists’ rationale, the fact remains that the Left hates America just the same.
The response from mainstream liberals to their more extreme ideological allies is conspicuously muted.
Why are State Department officials calling for pro-American propaganda overseas, but ignoring anti-Americanism at home? Why are colleges turning out a spate of courses dedicated to “understanding” the Islamists who hate us, but in denial of the campus ideologues who despise America? Where are the media, who reported on the rabid anti-Americanism in Nablus and Islamabad, but ignore it in Berkeley, Ann Arbor, and Amherst?
Liberals take the “see no evil, hear no evil” approach to confronting the enemy within not only because it is politically convenient, but because liberals are all too ready to excuse the sins of allies to their left as well. American liberals refuse to face the uncomfortable truth about their ideological cousins that the rest of the country has come to realize: the Left hates America.