Then Vietnam occurred, and Democrats and liberals (in academia, labor and the media) abandoned that war and abandoned millions of Asians to totalitarianism and death, defamed America's military, became anti-war instead of anti-evil, became anti-anti-Communist instead of anti-Communist, and embraced isolationism, a doctrine I and others previously had always associated with conservatives and the Republican Party. This change was perfectly exemplified in 1972, when the Democratic presidential nominee George McGovern ran on the platform "Come home, America."
This in turn led to the liberal embrace of the immoral doctrine of moral equivalence. As I was taught at Columbia, where I studied international relations, America was equally responsible for the Cold War, and there was little moral difference between the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. They were essentially two superpowers, each looking out for its imperialist self-interest. I will never forget when the professor of my graduate seminar in advanced Communist Studies, Zbigniew Brzezinski, chided me for using the word "totalitarian" to describe the Soviet Union.
I recall, too, asking the late eminent liberal historian Arthur Schlesinger, in a public forum in Los Angeles in the late 1970s, if he would say that America was, all things considered, a better, i.e., more moral, society than Soviet society. He said he would not.
It was therefore not surprising, only depressingly reinforcing of my view of what had happened to liberals, when liberals and Democrats condemned President Ronald Reagan for describing the Soviet Union as an "evil empire."
Identifying and confronting evil remains the Achilles' heel of liberals, progressives and the rest of the left. It was not only Communism that post-Vietnam liberals refused to identify as evil and forcefully confront. Every major liberal newspaper in America condemned Israel's 1981 destruction of Saddam Hussein's nuclear reactor (in which one person -- a French agent there to aid the Israeli bombers, and who therefore knowingly risked his life -- was killed). As The New York Times editorialized: "Israel's sneak attack … was an act of inexcusable and short-sighted aggression."
Most Democrats in Congress even opposed the first Gulf War, sanctioned by the United Nations and international law, against Saddam Hussein's Iraq and its bloody annexation of Kuwait.
And today, the liberal and Democratic world's only concern with regard to Iraq, where America is engaged in the greatest current battle against organized evil, is how soon America can withdraw.
There were an even larger number of domestic issues that alienated this erstwhile liberal and Democrat. But nothing quite compares with liberal and progressive abandonment of the war against evil, the most important venture the human race must engage in every generation.
I can understand why a leftist would vote for the party not one of whose contenders for the presidency uttered the words "Islamic terror" in a single presidential debate. But I still cannot understand why a true liberal would.