Thursday, January 25, 2007

Conservatives Blame America First?

Eric Alterman, a Senior Fellow of the Center for American Progress and the author of six books, writes a popular blog, “Altercation,” at He also write a column titled Think Again. The latest one is Conservatives Blame America First, Again.

Rejected by the American people at the polls in November, the long, wagging finger of the far-right is still shaking all over. Its most recent manifestation arrives in the form of Heritage Foundation “scholar” Dinesh D’Souza’s new book, The Enemy at Home: The Cultural Left And Its Responsibility For 9/11, which lays the blame for the attacks of 9/11—and for the extremist Islamist threat—squarely on the shoulders of the American left (explicitly including, I am proud to say, yours truly).

In other words, D’Souza blames America, and Americans, for the terrorist attacks of 2001. He writes that bin Laden did not attack the United States “because of U.S. troops in Mecca,” or because of America’s alliance with Israel, but instead because the American cultural and political left “has fostered a decadent American culture that angers and repulses traditional societies.”

Specifically, he writes, “the cultural left [that’s me] and its allies in Congress, the media, Hollywood, the nonprofit sector, and the universities, are the primary cause of the volcano of anger toward America that is erupting from the Islamic world.”

Nice work if you can get it. Alas, it involves forgetting the fact that bin Laden himself has said “We fought you because we are free ... and want to regain freedom for our nation. As you undermine our security we undermine yours,” and that “it had not occurred to our mind to attack the towers, but after our patience ran out and we saw the injustice and inflexibility of the American-Israeli alliance toward our people in Palestine and Lebanon, this came to my mind.”

As you may recall, conservatives’ tendency to try to exploit the tragedy of 9/11 to score political points against their domestic political adversaries is as old as, well, 9/11 itself. This blame-America-first mentality on the part of right-wing critics is hardly anything new. We saw the first stirrings of this attitude on September 13, 2001, when Jerry Falwell literally couldn’t wait for the fires to go out in Lower Manhattan and the smoke to clear at the Pentagon before he told the nation what al-Qaeda’s real motivations were: “I really believe that the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays, and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People for the American Way...I point the finger in their face and say, ‘You helped this happen.’” He said this on fellow televangelist Pat Robertson’s show, “The 700 Club,” and Robertson agreed, adding, “Jerry, that’s my feeling,” and “Well, I totally concur.”

You can read more here.