Bruce Bawer responds to the arrested development that results in liberalism.
If Iâ€™m curious about the psychology of [members of the commentariat of the left who, after events like the Benghazi Embassy attack or the Boston bombing, hurry to defend Islam]. itâ€™s reflexive. Itâ€™s mainstream. Among urban types who view themselves as liberal-minded and sophisticated, itâ€™s considered de rigueur to think this way about things like this. Certainly youâ€™re obliged to think this way if you want to count on getting published in major establishment newspapers and at websites like Salon.
Itâ€™s necessary to fight jihad. But itâ€™s equally necessary to fight this weed that has grown up among us â€“ this decadent, despicable readiness to deny the reality of jihad, to relativize it, to make excuses for it, to blame it on us, on America.
These decadent characters take these positions, of course, because theyâ€™ve been marinated in multiculturalism and, in particular, have absorbed the all-important lesson that the great danger of our time is not Islam but the criticism thereof. Yet what made multiculturalism attractive to these people in the first place is that itâ€™s tailor-made for spoiled, narcissistic grown children who donâ€™t want to have adult enemies â€“ that is, the kind of enemies who represent a real danger to them or that they might ever really have to fight. Itâ€™s tailor-made for people who cherish the notion of themselves as sensitive and understanding toward â€œThe Other,â€ and whose enemies of choice are, basically, parental substitutes â€“ people who draw clear moral distinctions, who talk about the need for security, and who make unequivocal assertions about the superiority of American freedom to Islamic tyranny.
Fighting the mental affliction â€“ the terminal puerility â€“ of the Oâ€™Hehirs may be even harder than fighting jihad itself. How do you repair a culture in which mature moral judgment and adult civic responsibility have systematically been replaced by childish, self-aggrandizing displays of â€œsensitivityâ€? How do you install a moral compass in a fully grown adult?
For thatâ€™s the problem, in essence: these people are missing certain working parts that are essential components of the civilized adult. First of all, they lack the imaginative capacity, and the sense of identification with their own country, to understand that the bombing in Boston wasnâ€™t just an attack on the three people who died and the dozens others who were wounded, but was, in fact, an attack on them â€“ and on their families and friends, their very lives, their childrenâ€™s future. For all their mockery of Americaâ€™s idea of itself as a â€œprotected zone,â€ their supposed empathy for the jihadists is a luxury in which theyâ€™re able to indulge precisely because they think of themselves, consciously or not, as living in a â€œprotected zone.â€ Like any baby in a crib, they feel safe, cocooned, impregnable â€“ yet they donâ€™t realize that the reason for this feeling of safety is that theyâ€™ve spent their lives in a country where the cops and the military have protected them from, well, people like the Tsarnaev brothers.
Like any child, they accept this protection as their due, their right. They take it for granted. But they donâ€™t think of themselves as having any responsibility that accompanies this right â€“ for example, a responsibility as citizens to the safety and well-being of the American people as a whole. No, as far as they can see, their only responsibility is to themselves. Indeed, if they canâ€™t wrap their minds around the reality of the murderersâ€™ dedication to the idea of jihad, and thus (in many cases) reject the possibility that it was indeed jihad that drove the Tsarnaevs to commit their heinous acts, itâ€™s because they themselves donâ€™t know what it means to be dedicated to anything outside of themselves â€“ and to the preservation of their own self-image as sensitive, caring people who are too evolved to hate.
Yes, evolved. Yet of course, in reality, theyâ€™re the ones who are unevolved. Their relationship to adult moral responsibility is, again, that of small children.
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