Mona Charen

 In their new bestseller, "Can America Survive?" Ben Stein and Phil DeMuth begin with a pointed contrast between the America of today and that of 1942. One starts the section with trepidation, since such comparisons are overdone and usually strained. But the authors handle it deftly. The result is a quite devastating insight into the liberal mind.

 Imagine, Stein and DeMuth write (I paraphrase), that it is 1942. The United States has been brutally attacked at Pearl Harbor. Nazi Germany has declared war on us. The enemy is making progress on several fronts around the globe. At home, President Roosevelt "is attempting to rally the nation and fight back against the aggressors."

 Now imagine, they continue, "that on college campuses, the main focal point of student rallies is whether or not the United States is acting in a racist manner by fighting back against the Japanese in the Pacific. ... Consciousness-raising sessions are held to explore the sensitivities of the Japanese and the Germans -- to examine what in the American way of life might have been hurtful to those people, forcing them to turn to Nazism and imperialism and to fire upon the Americans who have ?shamed' them.

 "Every day newspapers bring a flood of articles about the Americans killed that day in the fighting, and a mass of hand-wringing about whether or not the men and women who died did so to promote a hidden agenda of Roosevelt's."

 If modern liberals had been around in 1942, that is precisely the way things would have been, and it's sobering to reflect that if the nation had been so disposed during that dangerous time, the outcome of World War II might have been different.

 This book is especially apt at this moment, because the man aspiring to unseat George W. Bush had such a large hand in making American liberalism what it is today. Some have dismissed the swift boat veterans controversy as a distraction. We've heard that Vietnam is as remote from the consciousness of Generation X and other young voters as the Alamo or Omaha Beach. Perhaps. But: a) young people need to learn their history; and b) Kerry's role as a war protester was quite simply dishonorable. He should not be permitted to pass himself off as the loyal soldier once again "reporting for duty."

Mona Charen

Mona Charen is a syndicated columnist, political analyst and author of Do-Gooders: How Liberals Hurt Those They Claim to Help .
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