So why did the Bush administration decide to declare war on terrorism after 9/11? Partly because, as Carr documents, military overreaction is the historically most common response to terrorist threats: Doing something—anything—is usually the first order of business. It was also a convenient way to take any meaningful discussion of America’s policy in the Middle East off the table. This is evident in the popular conservative trope “They hate us for our freedoms,” a handy phrase that preempts any critical investigation of our actions abroad. After all, what’s the point of self-reflection if the real cause of Muslim rage is the Bill of Rights? That’s hardly a negotiable document. Recently, Dinesh D’Souza road-tested an even more malignant version of this idea—“They hate us for our immorality”—suggesting that the real enemy is social liberalism. For movement conservatives, it doesn’t get much better than that.
Such muscular myopia may be a thoroughly flawed strategy, but it does succeed at deflecting attention from the question of whether our problems are partly a result of our own actions and policies in the Middle East. As Stephen Holmes puts it in The Matador’s Cape, “To recognize that America’s fundamental problem is Islamic radicalism, and terrorism only a symptom, is to invite a political solution.”
For the longest time I have maintained that the real enemy the conservative bed-wetters have been trying to rally America against are liberals, that they fight terrorists (or whichever their enemy du jour) only when convenient.
The argument, if can call it that, went something along the lines that reasoned debate about the necessity of wars of choice, curbing government intrusion into private communication, or the efficiency/morality of torture would “embolden” the enemy. Consider us liberals emboldened:
I wonder if Lawrence O’Donnell (seen above smacking down Pat Buchanan for his religious hypocrisy) might have been a better fit for MSNBC’s 6 o’clock time-slot than Ed Schultz — who I love, really, but just doesn’t seem comfortable enough with the TV format to make it sell. (Ed, try sitting down. Stand-up is for comedy, not news.)
represents the rise of a newly emboldened sort of secular liberalism, challenging notions of judeo-christian centricity that have long been accepted by people in the media and even by those on the left. For so long, one couldn’t challenge a conservative’s Christian faith no matter how crazy or extreme the views, that faith was somehow untouchable even as they questioned the faith (or lack thereof) of people with whom they disagree with impunity. The free ride is over, boys.
But it’s not just religious lunacy that is a target this Good Friday. The right’s version of populist resistence makes a juicy target, especially the Teabaggers brought to task by Rachel Maddow and Anna Marie Cox last night.
(Sorry about the imagery of John McCain getting … teabagged. Eewww.)
It’s only a start, but you have to admit that it’s more than interesting that a major media outlet like MSNBC, a wholly owned subsidiary of a major corporation like GE, a weapons contractor to boot, is a heartening — dare I say, emboldening development.