The Corner

Neuhaus on D’Souza

This certainly seems to be D’Souza week, what with Jonah’s review of The Enemy at Home out, and D’Souza’s four-part answer to his critics here on NRO.  I suspect we’ll be hearing more from D’Souza’s critics–myself included–shortly.

At any rate, it’s apparent that a wide array of conservative writers have in one form or another repudiated The Enemy at Home.  But what about strongly religious conservative intellectuals with a special interest in the sort of issues implicated in America’s culture war?  You’d think that if any American conservatives were going to embrace D’Souza’s controversial strategy for winning the culture war, it would be the folks some people like to call “theocons.”  Well it appears that the theocons aren’t biting.  In the just-published April issue of First Things, Richard John Neuhaus (honorary “theocon” commander-in-chief), rejects D’Souza’s argument in no uncertain terms.  Here’s the passage:

“‘In order to defeat the Islamic radicals abroad,’ writes Dinesh D’Souza, ‘we must defeat the enemy at home.’  That is the argument of his new book, The Enemy at Home: The Cultural Left and Its Responsibility for 9/11.  Mr. D’Souza is undoubtedly right that radical Jihadists exploit–among many other things they exploit–the pervasiveness of pornography, sexual licentiousness, and other depravities America exports through its commanding role in the global media.  And there is in this country an intense and open-ended conflict, commonly called a culture war, between ‘the cultural left’ and its opponents.  But to suggest that those associated with the cultural left are ‘the enemy’ in a way comparable to [the way in which] al-Qaeda and its allies are the enemy is over the top.  The ‘responsibility for 9/11′ rests solidly with the international network of Jihadists who have declared their determination to use any means necessary to defeat the U.S. and force the world’s submission to Islam.  The idea that they or the millions of Muslims sympathetic to them will have a change of heart about America and the West if only we put our house in moral order is not persuasive.  More troubling is the implication that America, if only the American left, is responsible for the war being waged by the Jihadists.  Recall the late Jeanne Kirkpatrick’s speech at the 1984 Republican convention and the ‘blame-America-first-crowd.’  That crowd is large enough as it is.  There’s no call for self-identified conservatives to join it.”

Et tu, Neuhaus?  Then fall, D’Souza.

I suppose some on the left might see D’Souza’s work as confirmation of their darkest fears about conservatism.  Yet it seems to me that the near universal rejection of The Enemy at Home by the conservative commentariat makes exactly the opposite point: this is decidedly not what conservatism today is all about.

Stanley Kurtz — Stanley Kurtz is a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center.

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