Liberal guilt: still a media trait

Posted: Sep 17, 2002 12:00 AM
Even as the trumpets sounded and bells rang in mourning a year after thousands of American innocents were lost in a savage terrorist attack, some people still couldn't place the blame where it belonged, on the criminals. They firmly believe America somehow deserved the al-Qaeda attack. We are the fount of great wealth and thus the legitimate target of international envy. Legendary CBS anchorman Walter Cronkite appeared on CNN's "Larry King Live" with another performance that makes you cringe at the thought that he was once called "the most trusted man in America." Clearly, if this man had ever been elected to office and tried to implement his opinions, he would have made malaise-ridden, apology-loaded Jimmy Carter look like an arrogant "superpatriot." So why were we attacked? Cronkite said he believes "very definitely that foreign policy could have caused what has happened." He didn't elaborate, but apparently we have failed to love-bomb the repressive backwaters of the world with enough foreign aid. Cronkite's lecture went like this. "We represent the rich," while most of Africa, Asia, and the Americas are "very, very poor. The people in these countries don't have adequate housing, don't have adequate hospitalization, don't have adequate medical care, don't have adequate education. They are not going to live forever in the shadow of the riches that we display constantly in our movies, in our travels around the world, in our airlines, in our shipping. They're not going to put up with that forever." Terrorism represents "a revolution of the poor and have-nots against the rich and the haves, and that's us." Translation: We're at fault, and wretched murderers have feelings, too. Poor Walter. He may have been a de-facto national leader by the 1970s, but he felt so comfortable in that decade of despair, he never left. Larry King tried to suggest that even a supposedly bungling or arrogant foreign policy "doesn't excuse" massive terrorist attacks, but Cronkite wouldn't lift a finger or change an inflection to agree. Larry could have -- should have -- asked how this socialist fairy tale matched up with the reality that most of the 9-11 hijackers came from wealthy Saudi families. Or wondered why Cronkite would think radical Islamists wanting to share the wealth of the American infidels would try to gain it by hoping to destroy it. King might also have asked: If a massive redistribution of wealth is the solution, why isn't the terrorists' own home, Saudi Arabia, and its immense riches, the problem? Put aside the lunacy of ending terrorism by adding every Middle Eastern family to the American welfare rolls. This is not the terrorists' aim; they want America destroyed, and have said so emphatically. No, Cronkite's argument is but the tired socialist impulses of the American left rearing its head and using 9/11 to its advantage. It's morally obnoxious, too. If liberals hate greed, then how can they justify greed and envy as an acceptable philosophy on the part of our enemies? Is it a moral philosophy to want to kill the rich man because he is rich? Is it an honorable economic policy to feed and clothe the world's poor by blowing up New York? Apparently so, in the guilt-ridden fog that still envelopes the former anchor for CBS News. But Cronkite wasn't the only aging CBS veteran to beat his breast in shame last week. In the self-satisfied quietude of the show "Sunday Morning," longtime Middle East reporter Bob Simon uncorked a commentary on how we'd have less enemies if we all drove tiny, fuel-efficient cars. I'm not kidding. He said if we were "less greedy, taking better care of our poor and our needy, and stop making impossible demands on our planet's resources, I think we would plunge our enemies into shame." How would this strategy sound in the hearing rooms of Congress? Ladies and gentlemen, Option A: We could attack al Qaeda, destroy their training camps, dry up their finances and arrest their leaders one by one. Or Option B: Perhaps we could win the war on terror if we all gave up our SUV's, our mini-vans, even our intolerable mid-size cars, and bought a tiny gas-sipper or a snazzy gas-electric hybrid. Osama bin Laden would be so ashamed, he'd come out of his cave and apologize, right? I think "Sunday Morning" ought to shelve those bubbling-brook videos and invest in a laugh track. Remember voices like these when people try to say that conservatism is somehow "out of the mainstream." In a time of war, when everything America has accomplished and stood for is under attack, when the public has rallied around the president, and millions fly their flags with pride, in some corners of liberalism, particularly in the liberal media, an unpopular extreme of ideological self-loathing remains.