By now, dear reader, you have likely heard about the brouhaha Dinesh D’Souza’s latest tome has fomented. Mr. D’Souza, a veteran right-wing culture warrior, wrote The Enemy at Home a silly screed that blames the American Left entirely for 9/11.
Although this thesis naturally enraged many of our pals on the political Left, sundry conservatives also found Mr. D’Souza’s book wanting–to say the least. For, throughout his book, Mr. D’Souza consistently apologizes for Islamist terrorism. His “Jimmy Carter Made Us Do It” line of argument appallingly lets al Qaeda off the hook for its evil. Accordingly, numerous right-leaning outfits–National Review, The New Criterion, Powerline–have proved distinctly hostile to Mr. D’Souza’s pontifications.
Enter Andrew Sullivan. In the pages of the newly expanded New Republic, Mr. Sullivan offered a longish review of Mr. D’Souza’s latest opus. And this review is instructive not because it presents numerous reasons to distrust Mr. D’Souza’s conclusions (any child could provide that), but rather because it demonstrates the ways in which Mr. Sullivan’s preoccupations hamper his ability to write an honest reflection on American conservatism.
Having declared at the outset that “American conservatism is in crisis,” Mr. Sullivan goes on to argue that Mr. D’Souza’s book is a logical outgrowth of so-called theoconservatism. Mr. D’Souza believes that American social conservatives ought to make common cause with radical Islamists, and Mr. Sullivan perceives that this is an entirely natural view for theoconservatives. After all, both groups dislike gay marriage, abortion, and pornography, and so they’re (abracadabra!) a natural fit.
Accordingly, Mr. Sullivan labels the conservative criticism of The Enemy at Home “libertarian.” To him, the right-wingers who have excoriated Mr. D’Souza’s polemic hail from the Cato Institute end of the political spectrum and that’s the only reason why they’re bothered by his book.
But this is nonsense–and Andrew Sullivan must know it. Just take two of the most prominent (and vociferous) critics of Mr. D’Souza’a book: Roger Kimball and Victor Davis Hanson.
Mr. Kimball, the co-editor of The New Criterion, is himself a veteran culture warrior. As even a cursory examination of his writing would suggest, he’s no libertarian. Ditto Victor Davis Hanson, a man whose criticisms of liberals have often dwelled on moral matters.
It seems clear, in fact, that Mr. Sullivan must label such thinkers “libertarians” merely to suit his own polemical purposes. Mr. Sullivan, that is to say, needs to make his reader believe that theoconservatism is the American corollary to Islamic fascism. In short, he needs to make Dinesh D’Souza’s argument seem attractive to social conservatives so that he can demonize them as Christian jihadists (or, as Mr. Sullivan calls them, in a foolish neologism, Christianists).
Why does he want to do this? For one reason and one reason only: Theoconservative hostility to gay marriage. To Mr. Sullivan, theoconservatives and Islamists are both evil because they both oppose gay marriage. Thus there is nary a difference between them.
This, of course, is arrant nonsense. If you can’t tell the difference between Fr. Richard John Neuhaus and Osama bin Laden, you have some real problems.
Pace Andrew Sullivan, Dinesh D’Souza’s thesis in The Enemy at Home is not a logical outgrowth of social conservatism. That’s much like saying that Louis Farrakhan’s view of American foreign policy is a logical outgrowth of liberalism.
Just because American liberals have qualms with aspects of America’s post-9/11 foreign policy doesn’t mean that they all should logically pine for a US defeat in the War on Terrorism. Similarly, just because American conservatives have qualms with aspects of contemporary American culture doesn’t mean that they all should logically pine to make common cause with al Qaeda.
This should be glaringly obvious to the average third-grader. Shame on Andrew Sullivan for allowing his own preoccupations to distort so violently his view of reality.
(Note: The crack young staff normally “weblog” at “The Hatemonger’s Quarterly,” where they are currently wondering whether Andrew Sullivan would argue that Michael Scheuer’s blame-everything-on-Israel attitude is a “logical outgrowth” of American liberalism.)