American Leftists Face New World of Patriotism
By Jeff Lukens
For a long time we have been living in an age of self-indulgence, but in one day it stopped. It is an understatement to say that Sept. 11 changed the way look at the world around us. With that one atrocity, terrorists have turned mainstream America away from the self-centered irrationality of modern liberalism, and amazingly accomplished what many conservative commentators have been unable to do for years.
Modern liberalism is not to be confused with the liberalism of Franklin Delano Roosevelt. It is about the narcissistic form it morphed into since 1945 amidst American economic abundance. The leftist mindset typified by Marxist rants and 1960s-style protests may be nearing an end.
Rights-talk has long been the trump card of the left. When faced with the genuine terror threat, however, liberal rights-above-all rhetoric sounds naive and even dangerous. We are suddenly aware that everything our country stands for--its structure of rights, liberties, and freedoms - will not stand if we do not defend them. Against a backdrop of thousands of Americans murdered, the politics of victimhood seems worse than stale, and leftist dogma has lost one of its main expressions of protest.
For years, a bit of liberal anti-Americanism was a type of sophistication, a mark of hip authenticity. There is a growing realization that recent events have destroyed much of what that attitude stood for. Some of these people are surely in denial about their misplaced ideals, while others are quietly reassessing their association with the trendsetting leftist crowd to whom they have long sympathized.
College professors have long pushed an agenda that all cultures are equal, and none are to be judged for their differences. Another truth that has become clear is that all cultures are not equal. The horror of 9/11 is a reminder that some are wicked and must be opposed. To most people, this is obvious; to others -- particularly those educating our young -- it's a revelation.
Intellectuals, perpetual protesters, and others nostalgic for the 1960s, call upon tolerance and diversity as remedies for evil. They make accusations not at terrorists, but at America itself. The "Blame America" crowd seems to forget that our culture's respect for human rights stands in stark contrast to most Muslim cultures.
The news media has been a haven for those who spread the leftist gospel. In the war between good and evil, many liberal news commentators have chosen to remain neutral. Simple judgments on right and wrong often elude them. Whatever objectivity they seek is overshadowed by their hypocrisy and double standards. They report their chilly bias to an audience that abounds with warmth and pride for their country and its military. And they wonder why their ratings are slipping.
Guess what, there are Islamic radicals in this world who hate Americans, and they don't mind killing a few of us to prove it. It's impossible for any clear thinking individual not to have a judgment on that. They suppress women with cruelty; they despise Jews, and brutally execute homosexuals. These people have no pretense at any ideology that could appeal to any American, and especially to trendy counterculture liberals. When the attack came, as much as they tried, there was ironically nothing the cynics in our country could plausibly produce to rationalize support for it.
That tragic day triggered a surge of patriotism and an enthusiasm for the superiority of America's political and cultural institutions. In New York City, once the bastion of leftist skepticism and elite arrogance, police and firemen hold open-air religious services, and are held up as heroes. Displays of this kind would have been unthinkable a year ago.
Americans believe that each person is independently free to live the life of his or her choosing, and nowhere else but here has it been so clearly articulated and vigorously advanced. We are the living vision of a free society on displayed for the world to see. After more than two centuries, much of the world still hopes to achieve the ideals for which our nation has stood for since it’s founding.
Over the years, we've taken in the poor and huddled masses from around the world and let them breathe free, but some say that's not enough. We've rebuilt the nations of former enemies. The civil rights we offer to our citizens of every imaginable background, and even to Al Qaeda detainees in Cuba, are greater than anywhere else. But, . . . it's never enough. Self-analysis and reflection are a healthy part of our democracy. For too many, however, it has become a delusional lifestyle where nothing is ever right.
In adversity, we have found strength and optimism. For the first time in decades a majority of people say they trust the federal government to do the right thing. Leftist dominance of the American culture and the Democratic Party may finally be ending, which could cause a seismic shift in the course of politics and societal norms for years to come.
In this new era, there is a search for clarity of purpose. It has caused us to reassess our priorities and values. Perhaps now we think less about what is wrong, and more about what is right. The immensity of events has caused us to focus on the things that matter most in life: our faith, our love for family and friends, and our love of country. Where we once found fault with our communities, we have started making them better.
And in the aftermath of that fateful day, patriotism is also alive and well. America is moving back to basics. And those basics exclude the self-serving pretense of modern liberalism. Hopefully this marks the end of the "Blame America" cynicism that has divided our people for years.