The Tea Party Goes to War
A rallying cry for The Fight of Our Lives.


‘Let us avoid . . . suicide.”

William J. Bennett and Seth Leibsohn certainly know how to grab your attention. In their call to arms, The Fight of Our Lives: Knowing the Enemy, Speaking the Truth & Choosing to Win the War Against Radical Islam, they write, “We may soon find out whether we will take seriously our great moral and intellectual inheritance and so determine whether we indeed have the will, and the ability, to not only call this a war but to identify our enemy and to win it as well. Or, in the long run, will we be the authors of our own undoing?”

Bennett and Leibsohn, who are both affiliated with the Claremont Institute (though Leibsohn is currently on leave, working on Rick Santorum’s presidential campaign), are longtime collaborators. Leibsohn was the founding producer of the former secretary of education’s nationally syndicated radio show, Morning in America. They answer questions from National Review Online’s Kathryn Jean Lopez’s about The Fight of Our Lives here.

KATHRYN JEAN LOPEZ: Is it really the fight of our lives? It looks as if only some of us got the memo, doesn’t it? How deep in denial are we?

WILLIAM J. BENNETT: Deep. Start with the leadership. This administration thinks Assad in Syria is a reformer and the Muslim Brotherhood is a largely secular organization. The attorney general isn’t sure if radical Islam has anything to do with the Times Square bomber or Abdulmutallab in Detroit. Confusions abound. What we have is a program of brutalization of women, minorities (including Jews, Christians, and other Muslims), and children — all because of a toxic ideology operating under the guise of a religion. People by the thousands are being killed while their attackers shout “Allahu Akbar,” and many leaders are scratching their heads asking what this is all about. We know what this is about. It is about radical Islam and we are not bigots for saying so.

LOPEZ: On September 11, 2001, could you have ever predicted we’d practically forget?

SETH LEIBSOHN: We actually did believe that. In early 2002, Bill, Jim Woolsey, Charles Krauthammer, a few others, and I thought we would see an erosion in our will to fight. We founded Americans for Victory Over Terrorism to fortify public opinion. Many at the time asked why this was necessary and some even said we were going after phantom opposition. We said, “Just wait,” and, well, here we are.

LOPEZ: Why is the name of the fight of our lives so important? Why have we been so timid in naming our enemy?

BENNETT: Many have been timid because frankly, to be fair, many are not sure who the enemy is. That’s unusual for us. We usually know who we are fighting and we usually have a leadership that is not afraid to call things by their proper name.

LOPEZ: Why was there confusion even from the Bush administration?

LEIBSOHN: I don’t know that there was actual confusion. What I think is that there was a concerted effort to try and figure out if softer language would bring about less violence. There was the thought that a more appeasing tone would win a lot of wavering Muslim hearts and minds. Most experts on Islam that we have read, as well as the results of that effort, show that didn’t work. It ended up coming across as what Bernard Lewis would call “anxious propitiation.”

LOPEZ: Are diversity and tolerance bad things?

BENNETT: It really depends on how and for what. But what is interesting is the odd cultural turn of intellectual thinking here about Islamism. Support for religious orthodoxies used to be opposed — but Islamism became a different thing here. It became exceptional. Orthodox Islam, unlike orthodox Christianity or Judaism, has come to be considered the new badge of diversity and its presence and verbiage the new emblems of tolerance, worthy of the utmost respect and protected from almost any criticism.