The Corner

An Afterthought

Especially in the first few months following 9/11, there was a tendency among social liberals to equate social conservatives with the Islamists. All alike were theocrats, did not appreciate the value of religious freedom, did not share the liberal definition of the separation of church and state, opposed abortion, etc. Our enemy in the war on terrorism was “fundamentalism”; what we are fighting for was “tolerance,” “pluralism,” “modernity,” and “the open society”–and these terms were, with varying degrees of explicitness, to be understood as liberals understand them. What we are fighting for, in other words, is moral liberalism. I thought that this analysis was entirely wrong-headed and, at points, became a smear. One reason conservative Christians should not be working with radical Islamists is that it gives credence to that smear–although it’s not the most important reason.

Ramesh Ponnuru is a senior editor for National Review, a columnist for Bloomberg Opinion, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and a senior fellow at the National Review Institute.

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