Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Radicalized by the Radicals

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In writing yesterday's post, "My Conservative Identity," I was reminded of one of the founding principles of this blog: a commitment to analyzing, exposing, and resisting the anti-Americanism and irrationalism of the radical left. For most Americans, the September 11 attacks were shocking and tragic, but they were also accompanied by a wretched round of America-bashing. Yet it really wasn't until 2003, in my own case -- amid the antiwar left's movement against the Iraq war -- that I really woke up to the hate-addled forces seeking the destruction of the United States.

In yesterday's entry I linked to Cinnamon Stillwell's seminal article on post-September 11 conservativism, "The Making of a 9/11 Republican." Stillwell crystalizes the changing ideational foundations of many progressive-minded citizens, and chronicles her own transformation into a post-9/11 conservative:
Having been indoctrinated in the postcolonialist, self-loathing school of multiculturalism, I thought America was the root of all evil in the world. Its democratic form of government and capitalist economic system was nothing more than a machine in which citizens were forced to be cogs. I put aside the nagging question of why so many people all over the world risk their lives to come to the United States. Freedom of speech, religious freedom, women's rights, gay rights (yes, even without same-sex marriage), social and economic mobility, relative racial harmony and democracy itself were all taken for granted in my narrow, insulated world view.

So, what happened to change all that? In a nutshell, 9/11. The terrorist attacks on this country were not only an act of war but also a crime against humanity. It seemed glaringly obvious to me at the time, and it still does today. But the reaction of my former comrades on the left bespoke a different perspective. The day after the attacks, I dragged myself into work, still in a state of shock, and the first thing I heard was one of my co-workers bellowing triumphantly, "Bush got his war!" There was little sympathy for the victims of this horrific attack, only an irrational hatred for their own country.
Read the whole thing. The article is essential reading for those thinking about their own ideological foundations. The Stillwell piece provides an opening for me, as well, to dwell a bit on my experience as pro-victory professor, and as a proud American committed to rationalism and traditional values.

I began blogging after I became frustrated on my campus with the antiwar radicalism, and especially the tremendous level of vitriol I found among those opposed to the Bush administration. Blogging became a way to comment on events, and to advance the conservative agenda.

I remember writing
a post on President Bush's Memorial Day Speech at Arlington National Cemetary in 2006. The comment thread to that post generated some of the most hate-filled attacks I ever received. I've switched over to Haloscan comments since then, but I cannot forget the spewing hatred leveled at me even for even linking to the White House, not to mention my show of support for the American military. It was like being spat upon, only verbally. The commenter ridiculed my integrity, attacked my academic credentials, and called me a chicken hawk. I was taken aback by this episode, but it taught me something about the wild west element of the web. I also became more steeled in my views, and better equipped to respond to these attacks intellectually (see my "What is a Chicken Hawk?" post, which was a key, early response to this style of screed).

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Is President Bush the worst president in history? Of course not, but don't tell that to the endless line of leftists denouncing any and all elements of GOP power. I never cease to be amazed by the left's sheer hatred for this administration, and especially its contempt for even a moderate level of reasoned intellectual debate and exchange.
I noticed this once again in a go 'round I had over at The Impolitic blog. Libby Spencer, the blog's main author, is a prototypical America-basher and hard-left Bush-hater. Ms. Libby wrote a post on Peggy Noonan's recent call for a reconsideration of English as the official language, dismissing Noonan as elitist and out of touch with American diversity. I took issue with the post in the comments, noting that Noonan had enough common sense to see through the multiculturalist evils challenging American traditionalism. To which Ms. Libby resonds:
I think you're afraid of just about everything and your answer to every fear seems to be commit wanton acts of violence against those who make you tremble.

I might suggest you simply hide under your bed until Bush wins the war on terror. I hear it's about to turn a corner any minute now.
I responded:

It's not fear but a respect for tradition and reason that animates me....The country was not built by foreign language speakers. The country was founded by Anglo-Protestants. Those that came later assimilated to English. The process still works, although multiculturalists reject the assimilationist project. They are afraid. They fear integration into the American mainstream, perceived to them as imperialist and totalitarian. In that sense they dramatically differ from earlier waves of immigrants to our shores.
Then Ms. Libby let loose with a nice little dose of radical left ideology:

As for English speakers building the country, I might remind you that even the pilgrims were univited immigrants. The country wasn't empty when they arrived and the indigenous residents they took the land from were Indians. I don't believe they were English speakers.
I responded once again, summarizing the poverty of Ms. Libby's approach and argument:

You label principled positions as "fear," for example, as if there were something wrong with that. Fear is a basic human impulse, a necessary instinct. I'd be scared if planes were plowing into the New York office towers where I worked. I'd be scared if I was getting off the Madrid underground as it was exploding into a fiery ruin of death and destruction. But hey, it's easier to brush off legimate argumentation as "fear mongering" than actually engage it persuasively....

You come from an irrational perspective, if I may say, for multiculturalism as an ideology is a rejection of the modernist, scientific, industrial, cultural, and linguistic heritage of the nation. A national heritage of reason and progress. A nation of settlers, by the way, not immigrants. Settlers who triumphed in establishing a new nation. You again digress with boilerplate left wing rants denouncing takings of the land. But be honest: The superior civilazation prevailed. Native peoples couldn't compete, and instead had to adapt to a more dynamic system of economic and political organization. It's politially incorrect to say it, but it's the truth (hard to bear, for a pure ideologue though it may be).
Ms. Libby was left utterly helpless with my riposte. She refused to engage me even further, dismissing me in another comment thread, saying she had "five blogs" and had to keep up with her "content."

I was impressed, to be sure! Yet while Libby quit the debate, her honor was rescued by a new interlocutor in the form of
Captain Fogg. Old Fogg jumped in to defend the flumoxed Ms. Libby in a new post calling for President Bush's impeachment. Fogg's debating style is to thump his chest and then descend into an endless downward spiral of incohent gibberish and radical nonsense. I rebutted him point after point, and he became more enraged as his impotence in debate ratcheted upward.

He got particularly carried away in one nasty final debate
in another one of Ms. Libby's posts. As old Foggy gets more steamed, he resorts to ad hominems. He attacked my academic credentials, addressing me as "perfessor." But having heard it before, I calmly replied to his cheaps attacks, point by point. The Foggy diatribes were driven by utter revulsion and hatred for anything for which the Bush administration stood. I'd nearly had enough debating this pedestrian, but I was taken aback when Fogg descended into a bit of anti-Semitism:

I suggest you drop by the B'nai Brith website and tell them their hate for Hitler isn't valid because they hate Hitler. I'm sure they aren't bright enough to spot that ripe bit of carrion sophistry and don't forget to impress them with your credentials.
When the Hitler references start flying, it's time to call a spade a spade, and I did:

I was going to ignore your latest put downs, which roll down me like flicks of saltwater on sunscreen. Any time I've deflected your wimpy, posturing ripostes, you've ignored substance to hide in the welcoming bliss of ignorance. Yet, I decided to click comment to have you think a bit - in the hope of hopes - about the comparison your making between Bush and Hitler. Classic lefty tactic, right? Bush is the evil fascist of the age, the new fuehrer! That is so passe, God man! Where are the millions dead, eh? The cattle cars? The camps and ovens? The clouds of ashes? The SS henchmen? The totalitarian one-party state? I imagine, in your hatred of America, it's easy to equate the liberation of Iraq from decades of tyranny on an identical level as the Nazi holocaust. That's beneath despicable and demeaning - it's the ultimate disgusting manifestation of your descent into devilish ideology. It lowers the bar of evil, your Bush/fascist analogy, and condescends to historical memory. It's just shameful and sickening. That's enough said. You don't bother me in the least! You're nothing, and your views are the ultimate in loathsome. God save you, son!
I haven't gone back to comment since. Libby and Captain Fogg are off in there own little irrationalist world of antiwar talking points and rabid revulsion of America. I had originally visited Libby's page via Memorandum. I've found some interesting bloggers there, and on occasion I've had some good exchanges after checking the links. I thought Ms. Libby over at The Impolitic might be worth a comment or two. No luck, as you can see, although these ugly exchanges are educational: They reveal the utter vacuum of intellectual integrity among classic representatives of the hard left agenda and discourse.

So this is where I come back to Cinnamon Stillwell and
her article distilling the ideological transformation of 9/11 Republicans. Stillwell is penetrating in her description of the hostile left forces:

Like many a political convert, I took it on myself to openly oppose the politics of those with which I once shared world views. Beyond writing, I put myself on the front lines of this ideological battle by taking part in counterprotests at the antiwar rallies leading up to the war in Iraq. This turned out to be a further wake-up call, because it was there that I encountered more intolerance than ever before in my life. Holding pro-Iraq-liberation signs and American flags, I was spat on, called names, intimidated, threatened, attacked, cursed and, on a good day, simply argued with. It was clear that any deviation from the prevailing leftist groupthink of the Bay Area was considered a threat to be eliminated as quickly as possible.

It was at such protests that I also had my first real brushes with anti-Semitism. The anti-Israel sentiment on the left -- inexorably linked to anti-Americanism -- ran high at these events and boiled over into Jew hatred on more than one occasion. The pro-Palestinian sympathies of the left had led to a bizarre commingling of pacifism, Communism and Arab nationalism. So it was not uncommon to see kaffiyeh-clad college students chanting Hamas slogans, graying hippies wearing "Intifada" T-shirts, Che Guevera backpacks, and signs equating Zionism with Nazism, all against a backdrop of peace, patchouli and tie-dye.

Being unapologetically pro-Israel, I was called every name in the book, from "Zionist pig" to "Zionist scum," and was once told that those with European origins such as myself couldn't really be Jewish. In the end, the blatant anti-Semitism on the left, even among Jews, only strengthened my political transformation. I was, in effect, radicalized by the radicals.
Stillwell goes on to note that the war on terror is the central conflict of our time. But it's a conflict we must wage not just overseas, but also with the radical forces bent on destroying our nation from within. My experiences as a pro-victory professor and standard-bearer of traditionalism -- on my campus and on this page -- have resulted in the same type of name-calling, harrassment, and intimidation Stillwell chronicles. I too have been radicalized by the radicals. I see these personal episodes -- and especially the blog exchanges -- as case studies in the fight we wage against the evil masses arrayed -- at home and abroad -- against the United States.

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