Kevin Drum has a thoughtful critique of Peter Beinart’s article on terrorism and liberalism. He argues:
Now, Beinart is right that there’s a liberal humanitarian case to be made for some kind of American intervention in the Middle East: the entire region is a cesspool of human rights violations, religious intolerance, violence against women, and brutal poverty amid great wealth. But just as in 1941 and 1949, that’s not enough. It’s never been enough, no matter how much we Americans like to flatter ourselves otherwise. The crusades against fascism and communism won majority support only when it became absolutely clear that they were expansionist ideologies that posed a deep and ongoing threat to the security of the rest of the world.
That’s the story I think Beinart needs to write. He needs to persuade liberals not just that Islamic totalitarianism is bad â€” of course it’s bad â€” but that it’s also an overwhelming danger to the security of the United States.
Drum is right, but the problem is that there’s a good segment of the America left that will never be convinced of the threat from Islamic totalitarianism. After September 11 their first response was to blame the actions of the United States — an argument as abhorrent as arguing that a rape victim deserved it because they were dressed too provocatively. The Noam Chomsky/Michael Moore/International ANSWER wing of the Democratic Party used to be a far fringe group, but their power in this last election cycle was disturbingly strong, not only for conservatives, but for moderate Democrats as well.
3,000 people were murdered on September 11, 2001 in one of the most atrocious acts in human history. If that isn’t enough to convince people of the threat of terrorism nothing will be.
That’s why the Democrats lost on the security issue, and that’s why Beinart is right in pointing out that the Democrats need to strongly refute the far-left of their own party in order to survive. Even Clinton was willing to stand up against Sister Souljah in 1992 when she made a series of idiotic and paranoid comments. Rather than causing him to lose, Clinton showed that is moderate “New Democrat” rhetoric had some substance to it. It certainly didn’t cause him to lose the black vote.
Had Kerry done the same with Michael Moore, he would have done better in convincing the American people he wasn’t soft on terrorism. But when the party treats someone who compared the butchers of Fallujah to “Minutemen” regardless of that individual’s celebrity, it sends the message that they believe such things too. Sadly, some of the Democratic Party does believe such things, as the affair Kos illustrated all too clearly. As Beinart points out, there are far too many Democrats who view the GOP as being a greater threat to al-Qaeda. When you have Democrats out there stating that 11/2/04 is worse than 9/11/01, what message does that send about the seriousness of Democrats in fighting the war on terrorism?
There are legitimate criticisms of the war on terror. There is a legitimate argument that states that the Bush Administration is on the wrong side of the balance between security and liberty. These arguments may not be correct, but rational people have made them in a rational way. The problem is that these rational Democrats are quickly drowned out by George Soros, MoveOn, Michael Moore, The Daily Kos, Democratic Underground, and the like and their infantile associations between Bush and Hitler.
The typical Democratic response to all this is to fling more mud back at the Republicans and accuse the American people of being too stupid or brainwashed to accept their superior wisdom. So long as the Democrats keep on that course, they can kiss the concept of being in the political mainstream goodbye. While Beinart, Drum, and some other Democrats clearly understand this, they’re still a minority within the Democratic Party — ensuring that the Democratic Party itself will remain a minority party.