The hard times for the Left
). I found this to be a very interesting passage:
In fact, attitudes like Mr. Lott's aside, much contemporary conservatism honors similar ideas, making it less an opponent of liberalism than an alternative interpretation of the liberal world.
This is one reason that events since 9/11 have been so traumatic. While ethical and political acclaim for this larger sense of liberalism in the West is uncontested, it is barely present in Arab governments, virulently opposed by Islamic radicalism and rejected by many in the growing Muslim fundamentalist populations in European urban centers. Meanwhile the United States has been engaged in a new form of war, one goal of which is to transform preliberal societies into modern democracies while protecting against incursions at home. This requires an uncompromising scrutiny of liberalism's doctrines, ambitions and limitations.
Yet Mr. McGovern avoids the issue. He refers to terrorism as "one of the more vexing problems facing us" but argues that it does not justify an "obsession with external threats and internal security." Other liberals have been more attentive. Last spring in Dissent magazine, for example, Michael Walzer argued in an essay called "Can There Be a Decent Left?" that the overemphasis on civil liberties misses the real nature of the threat. Mr. Walzer more broadly accused the American left of having been "stupid, overwrought, grossly inaccurate" in its condemnations of the United States. Its rationalist and materialist analyses, he continued, have also led to an inability "to recognize or acknowledge the power of religion in the modern world." The left has thus become alienated from its own country, he said, and unrealistic in its expectations.