Covert Enemies

Monday, August 21, 2006

Michael Barone's Town Hall column was so good that I am going to post the whole thing.

In our war against Islamo-fascist terrorism, we face enemies both overt and covert. The overt enemies are, of course, the terrorists themselves. Their motives are clear: They hate our society because of its freedoms and liberties, and want to make us all submit to their totalitarian form of Islam. They are busy trying to wreak harm on us in any way they can. Against them we can fight back, as we did when British authorities arrested the men and women who were plotting to blow up a dozen airliners over the Atlantic.

Our covert enemies are harder to identify, for they live in large numbers within our midst. And in terms of intentions, they are not enemies in the sense that they consciously wish to destroy our society. On the contrary, they enjoy our freedoms and often call for their expansion. But they have also been working, over many years, to undermine faith in our society and confidence in its goodness. These covert enemies are those among our elites who have promoted the ideas labeled as multiculturalism, moral relativism and (the term is Professor Samuel Huntington's) transnationalism.

At the center of their thinking is a notion of moral relativism. No idea is morally superior to another. Hitler had his way, we have ours -- who's to say who is right? No ideas should be "privileged," especially those that have been the guiding forces in the development and improvement of Western civilization. Rich white men have imposed their ideas because of their wealth and through the use of force. Rich white nations imposed their rule on benighted people of color around the world. For this sin of imperialism they must forever be regarded as morally stained and presumptively wrong. Our covert enemies go quickly from the notion that all societies are morally equal to the notion that all societies are morally equal except ours, which is worse.

These are the ideas that have been transmitted over a long generation by the elites who run our universities and our schools, and who dominate our mainstream media. They teach an American history with the good parts left out and the bad parts emphasized. We are taught that some of the Founding Fathers were slaveholders -- and are left ignorant of their proclamations of universal liberties and human rights. We are taught that Japanese-Americans were interned in World War II -- and not that American military forces liberated millions from tyranny. To be sure, the great mass of Americans tend to resist these teachings. By the millions they buy and read serious biographies of the Founders and accounts of the Greatest Generation. But the teachings of our covert enemies have their effect.

Of course, this distorts history. We are taught that American slavery was the most evil institution in human history. But every society in history has had slavery. Only one society set out to and did abolish it. The movement to abolish first the slave trade and then slavery was not started by the reason-guided philosophies of 18th century France. It was started, as Adam Hochschild documents in his admirable book "Bury the Chains," by Quakers and Evangelical Christians in Britain, followed in time by similar men and women in America. The slave trade was ended not by Africans, but by the Royal Navy, with aid from the U.S. Navy even before the Civil War.

Nevertheless, the default assumption of our covert enemies is that in any conflict between the West and the Rest, the West is wrong. That assumption can be rebutted by overwhelming fact: Few argued for the Taliban after Sept. 11. But in our continuing struggles, our covert enemies portray our work in Iraq through the lens of Abu Ghraib and consider Israel's self-defense against Hezbollah as the oppression of virtuous victims by evil men. In World War II, our elites understood that we were the forces of good and that victory was essential. Today, many of our elites subject our military and intelligence actions to fine-tooth-comb analysis and find that they are morally repugnant.

We have always had our covert enemies, but their numbers were few until the 1960s. But then the elite young men who declined to serve in the military during the Vietnam War set out to write a narrative in which they, rather than those who obeyed the call to duty, were the heroes. They have propagated their ideas through the universities, the schools and mainstream media to the point that they are the default assumptions of millions. Our cove
rt enemies don't want the Islamo-fascists to win. But in some corner of their hearts, they would like us to lose.


MeaninglessHotAir said...

Excellent catch.

I think the heart of the matter is the point Heather raised: is Western Civilization worth saving or not? And this is not a freshman philosophy class exercise, it is literally a matter of life and death, for if we make the choice to save it we will have to make the choice to die for that cause. If it is worth saving, then why exactly? Ultimately we have to believe that our culture is superior. Only if we believe that will we decide that it is worth saving. Only if we deeply believe that it is worth saving will we fight and die for it. If we believe that all ideas are equal, that all cultures are equal, that there is nothing special about Christianity and Judaism and democracy worth dying for, then we are doomed.

terrye said...


I think that if it came down to it most westerners would believe it was worth saving. But they are so steeped in cynicism that they honestly do not believe they are in any real danger. This will be the theme for the midterms, Bush's war is a result of scare mongering Republicans...

Luther McLeod said...

Well that lays it out rather clearly does it not. I'm reminded of W. Kelly's 'Pogo' dictum, "we have seen the enemy and he is us", though in a reversal of how that statement is usually, and accurately I suppose, construed.

I think what Mr. Barone speaks of is, for me, the most depressing aspect of American current events. The subject has been much discussed at this site and I have learned a great deal about how insidious the problem really is. The solutions for its reversal, at least in my lifetime, remain unclear.

But, re our internal and external enemies, I find some small ray of hope in another dictum, of which I cannot find the source. 'surrounded hell, we've got'em right where we want them', fire at will.

Peter UK said...

Whilst there are those who are throwni there rattles out of their perambulators out of sheer pique,

I wonder if Lieberman's defeat, the resilience of Hezbollah in Lebanon, and the emergence of a Hezbollah-style government in Iraq had any bearing on the decision by Bush and Blair to pre-empt the British police and order this alleged plot disabled. I wish I didn't find these questions popping into my head. But the alternative is to trust the Bush administration.
Andrew Sullivan.

There are those who are dedicated to the overthrow of Western society,the theories of Antonio Gramsci,that the revolution would come about through the undermining of the pillars of capitalist society,the family,the church the military,sexuality,patriotism.
Others in theFrankfurt School studied the popular culture by which they believed society was controlled.
Many members of the Frankfurt School,such as Herbert Marcuse fled to America where they tought in Academia.
Jacques Derrida the French philosopher whose theory of Deconstructionism was another powerful influence on academic political thought.So whilst you have been beavering away making things work,these schools of thought have been coursing through the education system.
It is all worth studying,sometimes it is like chewing blotting paper,but it provides an insigt how we got where we are now.
The only thing they did not forsee,is the vacuum left by underming the pillars of society was not the socialist utopia, but that a virulent culture would sieze the opportunity of filling that vacuum.

Rick Ballard said...


You may be referring to the spirrit of General McAuliffe's reply.

President Bush has been unfaltering in his communication but the fifth columnists and Copperheads who comprise the bulk of our media have done their best to obfuscate his message.

When the real killing and dying begins it's on their heads - not on the head of a CIC who has not deviated in his message from Day 1.

Luther McLeod said...

Just to flesh out:


And for me of all people to forget the source of this:

All right, they're on our left, they're on our right, they're in front of us, they're behind us... they can't get away this time. [When Surrounded By 8 Enemy Divisions During WW2]
~ Chesty Puller

I stole the above from a quotation site. I believe the war reference is incorrect. Most likely Korea, Frozen Chosin, 1950.

Valor in Action

Misquoted by me, but another great American. We could use a few of his kind today.

nomdeblog said...

MHO, I think we not only have to believe that our culture is superior we have to start saying it; otherwise we’re so PC that we’re just wusses like the cultural relativists.

I’m trying to be less PC. I was candid recently to a Muslim woman that I’ve known for many years. I said that while we agree on 90% of life, how to rise the kids etc, we must stop kidding ourselves about our respective religions. I believe mine is better as a Christian otherwise I’d become a Muslim. She just smiled. I added she must feel the same way or she’d become a Christian. She just smiled again.

I’m not sure what if anything I accomplished. But I’m glad I said it. I’m also glad she smiled – even if she faked it – who knows?

terrye said...


Andrew Sullivan is such a moron. He really is. I am sick of him. He is like a bad child.

lurker said...

I almost immediately stopped reading Andrew Sullivan. Can't stand him most of the time.