John Leo

None of the elite's wartime moves have worked. The effort to avoid U.S. retaliation for Sept. 11 by calling in the United Nations was a non-starter. The attempt to demonize the "racial profiling" of Muslims at airports fell flat, rejected by huge majorities, including a large majority of blacks. The left's mind-boggling attempt to turn the anti-globalization crusade into a '60s-style "campaign against war and racism" also collapsed. Even more amazing was the refusal of the feminist movement to support any show of force against the Taliban. Let's see, who shall we support? America or fanatics who deny all rights to women and whip them on the street if they walk too noisily? Hmmm. Too close to call.

Multiculturalism, the unofficial religion of the chatterers, looks very different since Sept. 11. So does the identity politics that downgrades assimilation and common values. "Being an American means nothing to me," an eighth-grader at a Muslim school told The Washington Post. "I'm not even proud of telling my cousins in Pakistan that I'm an American."

This kind of comment echoes the multicultural playbook. Diversity curriculums routinely depict the United States as a sort of game board on which different "peoples" (not the American people) work out their tribal destinies, with no particular allegiance to the nation as a whole. Another bit of multicultural dogma, that each culture is correct on its own terms and no culture is superior, looks pitiful in the wake of Sept. 11. Elites alienated from their own traditions concocted this stuff in calmer times. Will mainstream America keep buying it now, or just throw it out of the schools?

In his 1995 book, "The Revolt of the Elites," the late social critic Christopher Lasch wrote that the new bicoastal elites were seceding from the common life of America. He said the elites "have lost faith in the values, or what remains of them, of the West" and now tend to think of "Western civilization" as a system of domination and oppression. This attitude helps explain why so many in the elites seem offended by a war of self-defense and why their resistance won't fade as the war goes on.

John Leo

John Leo is editor of and a former contributing editor at U.S. News and World Report.

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