Archive for August 2002

Demon Israel and the Ivory Tower

Anti-Israeli bias in academia? I’m shocked. Shocked!

Used to Be Democrat: Confessions of a 9-11 Conservative

I used to be a Democrat. What is worse is that I used to be a liberal Democrat, and would have been proud to have been a card carrying member of the ACLU if I could have only afforded the dues. I believed that America was a dangerous place because of its love-affair with guns, that everyone was equal in every way and our laws should enforce it. I believed that Israel was an oppressor and that Islam was a peaceful and misunderstood religion. And I even thought Clinton wasn’t such a bad president.

And then it happened.

The sky was so blue that day – everyone including the President has commented on it. Everything seemed to reflect it – the roads and buildings and even the people. It was as if the sky cleansed the land of the smog and dust that we normally swing in as the summer draws to a close.

Everyone remembers how they learned of the unfolding trauma. Everyone cannot forget the sky cleared of all aircraft and the stillness that descended upon us as we tried to put it all together. Was it the end of our world, we wondered? Was this a return to the savagery that we had thought we had extinguished generations before?

For many of us, all of our assumptions and beliefs were called into question. What did it mean to be an American? A citizen of American society and the world? I found myself struggling, searching for meaning from the great philosophers – the Greeks as well as Catholic theologians. I immersed myself in their writings and found that the same issues that troubled me – the meaning of life, of justice, hatred, war and self-defense – had been debated by far greater minds hundreds and thousands of years before. In a sense Plato, Thomas Aquinas and John Stewart Mill would have enjoyed second careers on CNN, Fox News and MSNBC.

As I completed this self-evaluation and education, I began looking around me to find others who had experienced what I had. I was stunned by how lonely I wasn’t – for many had undergone the same “metanoia” – the true change of heart and spirit – and were completely different after September 11 than they were before it.

My Watergate-induced distrust of government? Gone. My concern about the Supreme Court’s handing over the election to Bush? Irrelevant. My respect for police and firemen? Deepened. How beautiful the flag looked as it waved on thousands of cars as people went about their daily lives, as stunned as I was. How handsome our soldiers looked as they clambered onto helicopters and flew into danger, carrying bits and pieces of the World Trade Center with them.

As I took stock of my situation post-911 I realized that I had changed, much as everyone had. I was now a conservative – but no ordinary conservative. I was a a 9-11 Conservative. It’s hard to not laugh at liberals who have managed to undergo the trauma of September 11 with their beliefs intact. “The hijackers were protesting American refusal to sign the Kyoto Global Warming accord,” some say. I laugh in their faces. The liberal arguments ring so hollow and are argued so naively, like a five year old’s assertion that he knows as much if not more as his parents do about anything. “If only we do X, they will not hate us anymore.” As long as X=convert to Wahabi Islam, then perhaps they are right.

As a 9-11 Conservative, I am uncomfortable with Bush. He was smart enough to hire Rumsfeld and Rice, but away from the War and foreign policy, he stinks of Jimmy Carter. His grasp of the economy is as tenuous as his grasp of English.I also don’t like the close corporate ties with his administration. Until then I will pass on voting a straight Republican ticket.

But as a 9-11 Conservative, I do want to see militant Islam ground into the dust. I want to see Bin-Laden dead and his body dragged through the streets of New York behind a yellow taxicab blaring mariachi music. I want to see women in skirts in Tabora, and democratic elections in Baghdad. As a liberal devotee to human rights, I want to see them all over Afghanistan, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Syria and Iraq – as well as in Tibet and China. I want to hear the streets of Tehran alive with the sounds of Bob Marley, Eminem, and the BBC. I want to see the universal rights of Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness spread to every corner of the globe.

For these reasons I have joined the Dark Side of politics. I never thought the darkness could feel so good…