Sunday, August 31, 2003

Liberalism is for sissies

How to Talk About Israel

From a NYT Magazine article:
What Henry Jackson, Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, Ariel Sharon, Benjamin Netanyahu and George W. Bush have in common is that they enabled bookish men to feel tough, beautifully, enviably tough. Too much can be made of the connection between the Chicago philosopher Leo Strauss and officials in the current Pentagon, but one aspect of Strauss appears to have rubbed off on them. Born in Germany, Strauss was a liberal rationalist in his youth. He had hoped, he said, that anti-Semitism would end with Jewish assimilation in a liberal democracy. The Nazis taught him otherwise. By the 1920's he began to regard liberals as weaklings, powerless to stop the violent mob. If one thing ties neoconservatives, Likudniks, and post-cold-war hawks together, it is the conviction that liberalism is strictly for sissies."

This article is allegedly about anti-semitism and the assumptions of current political dialog, but some of the most interesting parts are about the Manichaean worldview of Christian evangelicals and neoconservatives. There is also a parallel theme about youthful conversions, as in the definition of a neoconservative: a liberal who's been mugged.

The link between liberalism and sissie-hood (and effiminacy) is one of the great rhetorical triumphs of the Republican party. Rumsfeld is a master of it; but he uses it so often that one wonders if it will eventually lose its potency. Such weapons are best held in reserve.

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