To answer this question we have to notice the “indignation gap” that is apparent in the writings and speeches of leading leftist commentators and elected officials. They seem far more outraged at Bush than at the Islamic radicals. They might rebuke Bin Laden and his radical allies, but their language reaches a new decibel of indignation when they excoriate Bush and his conservative backers. Somehow Bush frightens these people more than the Islamic radicals.
Consequently the left in its political strategy seems to be applying the doctrine of the lesser evil. The left is allying with the bad guys in order to defeat the worse guys. Obviously leftists have no wish to live in the kind of society that Bin Laden seeks to establish. But the left also knows that Bin Laden wants to establish sharia in Baghdad, not Boston. Some elements on the left are willing to risk an Islamic fundamentalist state in Iraq in order to improve its prospects of defeating conservative government here in America.
Another way to put it is that some on the left are more than willing to partner with foreign enemies they don’t like in order to vanquish a domestic enemy they rabidly hate and fear. Columnist Ellen Willis warns that “what used to be the right-wing lunatic fringe is now the Republican mainstream…The radical right feels entitled to dominate not only government but all social institutions.” Bill Moyers fumes that Bush and the right are causing nothing less than the “intentional destruction of the United States of America.”
From this point of view, an Iraq ruled by Bin Laden and his successors is troubling, but an America ruled by Bush and the conservatives is abominable. It is Bush, not Bin Laden, who threatens with one more Supreme Court appointment to jeopardize Roe v. Wade. It is Bush and his supporters, not Bin Laden, who are blocking the advance of gay marriage. The greatest threat to civil liberties from the left’s point of view? Once again, Bush.
So leading figures on the left fear Bush more than Bin Laden, and viewed from their perspective, they are right to feel that way. The entire social agenda of the left, which was advancing without serious opposition, has been existentially jeopardized by Bush and his supporters. It is Bush, not Bin Laden, who threatens the most cherished values of the cultural left on its home turf. Thus the left is quite willing to work with the far enemy in order to defeat the near enemy.
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