Dispatches from the Creation Wars

The Challenge of 9/11

I think I’ve made it pretty clear that I loathe political conventions and campaigns in general, with their tired litany of empty language and meaningless cliches. Rarely does anyone even attempt to address a real issue in real terms. Today one of my favorite actors, Ron Silver, gave one of those brief little hoorah speeches at the Republican convention, and it was full of mostly tired cliches as usual, but there was one statement in it that stood out to me because it provides at least a glimpse of a real and larger issue that I think we must address one way or the other. He said:

Even though I am a well-recognized liberal on many issues confronting our society today, I find it ironic that many human rights advocates and outspoken members of my own entertainment community are often on the front lines to protest repression, for which I applaud them but they are usually the first ones to oppose any use of force to take care of these horrors that they catalogue repeatedly.

I am as appalled as anyone at Bush’s redneck rhetoric and childishly simplistic view on terrorism, and I certainly don’t think that he’s got any real idea how to handle the situation we find ourselves in (nor do I see any sign that Kerry has a clue about it), but I do understand the appeal of his vision for the masses. It’s clear and uncompromising – there are people who hate us and want to destroy us and we have to go out there and kill them before they kill us. And on one level, this is pretty accurate.

On the other hand, the nominal left in America (there really isn’t much of a real leftwing in this country) has said and done very little to indicate they even recognize there is a problem to be dealt with. Christopher Hitchens is correct to point out that the Islamic radicals who seek our destruction are exactly the kind of people that the left should oppose most vociferously. They advocate the most reactionary theocraty imaginable, with a legal code that destroys all notions of human rights. They are violently anti-gay and anti-woman. In short, they are everything that leftists should be most adamantly opposed to and most anxious to rid the world of. Yet it is primarily from the left that opposition to any real action to deal with them comes from.

It should be obvious, I think, that a comprehensive response to this threat must involve the military to one degree or another. But I think there is a kneejerk reaction on the left to oppose any and all American military action as imperialistic. Whether it was a good idea to go into Iraq or not is an entirely open question. That the current administration was utterly incompetent in its administration of the war is, in my view, pretty much a closed question. But there is still a larger issue here to be dealt with – how do we respond to the threat that comes from radical Islamists?

I’m curious to hear from my readers on this question. I’ve written about it in the past a few times, particularly about the need to reach out to moderate muslims and build alliances against the extremists, but nothing in great detail. I don’t pretend to be an expert on this. But I’ve also learned that I have a lot of very bright readers, and I’m excited about this blog becoming something of a community where we can learn from each other. So I’m soliciting your ideas. How do we fight this battle?