Jonah Goldberg

I have limited space here, but statements fundamentally similar to Kingsolver's are easy to find. Noam Chomsky, Michael Moore, Susan Sontag, Katha Pollitt, Oliver Stone: people like these have all added to the rich oeuvre of blame-America-first.

Not all of their statements are nearly so moronic or ill-timed, but I am at a complete loss as to why I can't say someone who agrees with Kingsolver, never mind Kingsolver herself, is less patriotic than the typical guy playing pool at an American Legion post.

Professional liberals have invested a vast amount of time and energy popularizing the notion that the worst thing in the world is to question the patriotism of someone to your left. I agree that it's not very nice, especially if it's unfounded. But I don't think questioning someone's patriotism is any worse than questioning their decency.

For generations, Democratic candidates and liberal journalists have asserted with impunity that Republicans, by their very nature, hate blacks, gays, children, the poor, the environment, animals and immigrants.

Al Gore ran as a champion of the "people against the powerful," claiming he cared about Americans more than Bush. His campaign manager declared that Republicans "have no love and no joy. They'd rather take pictures with black children than feed them." Clinton routinely said that the GOP wanted to "punish" children. The organizers of the Million Mom March insisted that "good" moms support gun control.

Again: Why is it fair game to question conservatives' love or loyalty to children or to their fellow man, but beyond the pale to question liberals' love of country?

In fact, I think liberal defensiveness sometimes undermines their case. After all, if I angrily asked, "Are you saying I'm gay?" as often as liberals say, "Are you questioning my patriotism?" a lot of people would think I'm hiding something.

Here's the kicker, as Kondracke and others have noted. Kerry is lying when he says the White House has been questioning his patriotism. The only politicians who've been throwing around the unpatriotic charges have been the Democrats.

During the primaries, Howard Dean declared, John Ashcroft "is no patriot. He's a direct descendant of Joseph McCarthy" and John Kerry declared that Bush's economic policies are "unpatriotic." When pressed on such statements, the Democrats routinely cite Bush's record on this or that.

Get it? If I point out John Kerry voted against, say, the MX Missile, I'm questioning his patriotism. But when John Kerry questions Bush's patriotism, he's merely criticizing Bush's record.

Welcome to the funhouse, folks.


Jonah Goldberg

Jonah Goldberg is editor-at-large of National Review Online,and the author of the book The Tyranny of Clichés. You can reach him via Twitter @JonahNRO.
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