At the time of the first antiwar marches, Marc Cooper, contributing editor of the very left magazine The Nation, wrote with alarm that ?the American left?or at least a broad swath of it?is more alienated from its own national institutions than its counterparts in any other developed nation. . . . What a warning signal,? he wrote, ?when you cannot tolerate the sight of your own flag.? He warned that the perpetrators of 9/11 must not be viewed as avengers of some oppressed Third World constituency and complained that peace marches were sounding the theme that America somehow invited the 9/11 attacks.
Indeed, that blame-America attitude, once confined to the hard left, has been leaching into the soft left and the Democratic Party. A Pew survey last August reported that 51 percent of Democrats and 67 percent of liberal Democrats believe that America might have motivated the 9/11 attacks by doing something wrong or unfair in dealings with other nations. Admittedly, America?s strong support for Israel may have influenced the poll. Still, it?s astonishing that so many Democrats are willing to point a finger at their own country for the devastation of 9/11. In the poll, most Americans rejected this notion decisively, and Republicans rejected it overwhelmingly.
In Commentary magazine, Norman Podhoretz wrote of a ?trickle-down effect? of virulent anti-Americanism. The anti-Iraq-war demonstrations were a grab bag of contradictory constituencies, many of which had nothing to do with war and peace. But they held out the promise that the hard and soft left, by refusing to criticize each other, could form a powerful alliance. So ordinary Democrats raised almost no objection to the many hate-America themes at these marches. (Few liberals and almost no reporters mentioned that the rallies were organized by unreconstructed Communist-front groups and Maoist fans of North Korean dictator Kim Jong Il.) Some of the dumber themes?Bush=Hitler and no blood for oil?moved into the mainstream left. Many stars in the Democratic firmament praised Michael Moore?s Fahrenheit 9/11, which carries some of these themes, including the belief that an evil alliance between the Saudis and the Bush family explains the war in Iraq.
Maybe Andrew Sullivan is right that electing John Kerry can bring the Democratic Party fully into the war on terror. But given the forces at work among Democrats, it?s surely a gamble.