Third, and this is most intriguing, where does that “wrong side of history” idea come from? President Obama was at pains to tell the National Prayer Breakfast of his conversion experience. He certainly sounded sincere. But “The Wrong Side of History” trope is drawn from Karl Marx. It presumes that there is a dialectic—a great impersonal, inevitable force moving through time and space. It presumes that history is going one way. Thus, to Marxists, you can be “on the wrong side of history.”
Not all “wrong siders” must be Marxists, of course. At the beginning of the 1990s, it was fashionable among big thinkers to speak of “the end of history.” It seemed then to some that democratic free enterprise systems had proven themselves superior by defeating Nazism and outlasting Communism that there would be no reasonable debate about the future shape of governments and economies—only a variety of ways to get there.
That was before 9/11. That was before the U.S. and the Free World were confronted with a global conspiracy against religious freedom, constitutional government, and human rights.
I have confidence that we must and shall prevail over jihadism. But I would not say that our victory is assured by some inevitability of history. Ronald Reagan often said that every generation has the task of defending freedom. That task now falls to us.
Talk of the “wrong side of history” can only induce passivity. And it also invites the charge of arrogance. After all, who is this president to decree which way history is going?
So far, the history of this administration in foreign policy has been one of muddling through. It’s hard to be on “the “right side of history” (if such there could be) when most of the time you are straddling the fence.