Sunday, December 12, 2004

I hope Kevin Drum doesn't stand for this
Just as I suspected, the Beinart article in TNR has now become conservative shorthand for "liberals aren't serious about terrorism." All Kevin Drum did was ask his readers if they thought "Islamic totalistarianism" is as great a world-historical struggle as communism, and Goldberg takes that as an opportunity to suggest that Drum doesn't think it's a serious threat. And so I have to ask -- is Goldberg stupid, or is he just dishonest? Let me reiterate -- liberals think terrorism is an extremely serious threat. The fact that they don't list it as their primary concern at a political convention is not evidence that they think it's unimportant. Furthermore, the main idea of Beinart's article was that any liberal who doesn't enlist himself or herself in the struggle against Islamic totalitarianism as he defined it is not worthy of membership in the liberal umbrella.

The negative response to his article was based on three main ideas -- first, that terrorism, while a deadly threat that must be dealt with, is not quite on par with the struggle against Soviet communism, second that a civil war in the Democratic party would be costly and futile, and third, that Moveon is not the commie hothouse that Beinart makes it out to be. This is a far cry from liberals coming out and saying that terrorism (which most liberal intellectuals can successfully separate as a phenomenon from "Islamic totalitarianism" [ed.'s note: I realize that most international terrorists are Muslim extremists], unlike conservatives who like to confuse distinct phenomena) isn't a serious threat. It's a completely different argument.

But of course, we'll now be hearing, for the next four years, that "even Democrats like Peter Beinart" recognize how unserious the Democrats are about national security. And it will mostly be from idiot frat boys like Jonah Goldberg.


At 10:44 PM, Blogger jdeadzone said...

for the life of me I cannot figure out how it idiot like Jonah Goldberg, Ann Coulter and others of their level get to play on the national dialogue stage. And no doubt the danger Democrats face what ever they look at themselves and their situation, is that the Republicans will take each self-criticism of the party and distort and magnify until the Democrats are cast into a single dimension, e.g., soft on communism, week on terrorism, big spenders, or tax-and-spend. And the loony left is taken as representing all or most Democrats. Typical republican distortions and corruption of the political process.

At 5:20 AM, Blogger Stacey said...

So it seems to me that one of the core problems we collectively face right now is the concptual disaggregation of terrorism and Islamism (I won't even dignify "Islamic totalitarianism" by using it). Democrats should all believe that terrorism is inimical to liberalism. But does that mean Islamism is? Quite frankly, and I wouldn't be writing a dissertation on precisely this issue if I didn't feel strongly here, this is an empirical question! But rather than being seriously investigated by examining existing Islamist parties and looking at the kinds of programs and policies that they pursue (otherwise known as taking them seriously), both Democrats and Republicans make broad assumptions about how they "would" or "might" behave. The evidence from my dissertation research presents a much foggier picture. It's one in which Islamists are not liberal, but may nevertheless not pose a critical threat to liberalism. In the end, a variety of structural conditions seem to determine how Islamists respond to liberal interloccutors and liberal institutions.

At the end of the day, though, I can't believe how many people on both sides (woe that there are functionally only two, if that) make quick assumptions that then form the foundation for programmatic declarations about the nature of Islamism and Americanism/Liberalism. I can't expect the media to do better, but I can certainly expect our elected leaders and our academic class to dig a little deeper!

This is in no way meant to intend that Dave ever does anything but dig! Go, Dave!


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