City Journal

Kay S. Hymowitz and Harry Stein
Earth to Ivory Tower: Get Real!
We’ll lose the war on terror if the political and cultural Left succeeds in sapping our resolve.
Autumn 2001

Amid the intense and reassuring outpouring of patriotism in the aftermath of September 11, the discordant notes on the political and cultural Left were easy to discount. Polls showed 90 percent-plus support for the president; the numbers favoring sustained military response were nearly as high. The bipartisan backing of administration policy was unprecedented, and the public soberly understood the gravity of the challenge. Yet there's reason to worry that, as the shock wears off and the costs of war mount, the voices of those who would deny America's moral authority to defend itself will grow more insistent and will confront us with a different kind of danger.

The two main stripes of critic seem stuck in the ideas of the sixties. There are the blame-America-firsters, of course, who regard vigorous self-defense as the moral equal of terrorism. But possibly more insidious are the many who might be called moral lethargists. Offspring of the therapeutic culture, New Age spiritualism, and an entrenched multiculturalism suspicious of Western values, these so resist passing judgment that they shrink from seeing even murderous Islamic fundamentalism as the evil it is and shy away from the tough steps needed to crush it. Though relatively small, these two groups cluster in the powerful opinion-forming institutions: the academy, the liberal churches, the press, and the entertainment media. Unable to grasp the nation's peril and the fragility of the freedoms that allow their voices to be heard, disdaining the idea of common purpose, they share a smug certitude in their own orthodoxy that augments their strength.

The struggle against our ivory-tower naysayers is surely winnable, and it has never been easier to see them clearly for what they are. But we should not underestimate their power. For our adversaries surely understand what many Americans do not: that the resolve to maintain our common purpose is our greatest vulnerability.

Following the September 11 attack, the surge of unembarrassed patriotism and revulsion at the vileness of the perpetrators that overwhelmed the nation also swept across most American campuses. Still, at others, for many the grief gave way almost at once to the impulse to "understand" the terrorists' motivations and to assert, in very nearly these words, that America had it coming. It was as if, in the wake of Pearl Harbor, the America First Committee, rather than disbanding, as it did, seized the opportunity to explain how American economic policies in the Far East had provoked the Japanese.

The words of some academic apologists were so poisonous in their moral blindness that a quick review of the college press a week after the event was enough to send one's blood pressure soaring. "It's easy to denounce the terrorism of one's enemies," a reporter for the campus Minnesota Daily declared. "It is far more difficult, but far more necessary, to denounce the terror of one's own government and actively work to stop it." "I am terrified . . . and furious," wrote a Columbia student in the college paper the Spectator. "My leaders fund mass murder in the name of my material well-being." "We're linking the fight against racism to a racist war abroad," a University of Michigan student told the Michigan Daily.

Most often, faculty and administrators took the lead. The morning after the attack, the Yale Daily News printed, in contrast to a student-written editorial calling for this generation to answer the call to serve "in the armed services, in the intelligence branches, alongside our military strategists and elected leaders," a parade of short pieces by history and political-science faculty sounding the soon-to-be familiar warnings that, as one put it, "retaliation breeds retaliation" and, in the words of another, that the terrorists' appalling acts had to be seen "in context."

Most of these clueless academics are stuck in the past, living on "the dregs of the sixties," as political-science professor Stephen Smith puts it. "Most tenured faculty were undergraduates during the anti-Vietnam period, and have continued to wear that stance as a kind of protective moral armor. It is so much a part of who they are and what they stand for that it's psychologically and intellectually impossible for them to see the world in any other terms," Smith judges.

Indeed, the Vietnam era–style "teach-ins" and rallies on campuses around the country in the weeks after the attack featured tenured radicals spouting decades-old themes of Amerika-hatred. We are, proclaimed University of North Carolina sociology professor Charles Kurzman, "playing into the hands of our own militarists, whose interests always lie, I believe, in the exaggeration of threats, armed responses, and so on. In fact, I would argue that there is tacit collusion among the militarists of all sides." The terrorists' acts, added University of Texas journalism professor Robert Jensen, were "no more despicable than the massive acts of terrorism—the deliberate killing of civilians for political purposes—that the U.S. government committed during my lifetime."

Nor was it only obscure academics who seized the moment to say things that most Americans instantly recognize as obscene. At Columbia (to focus on but one Ivy League campus), the two biggest celebrities on the liberal-arts faculty stepped forth to spew venom. "I'm not sure which is more frightening," said the DeWitt Clinton Professor of History Eric Foner, last year's president of the American Historical Association and author of a text that is required reading in countless high school and college classrooms, "the horror that engulfed New York City or the apocalyptic rhetoric emanating daily from the White House."

Meanwhile, in the London Observer, English department superstar Edward Said scornfully noted the increased stature in the post-attack period of "Mayor Rudy Giuliani, a normally rebarbative and unpleasantly combative figure. . . . " Some days later, it came to light that Said had gone on in the version of the piece that appeared in the Egyptian daily al-Ahram to characterize the mayor as a "retrograde figure, known for his own virulently Zionist views. . . . " This sleight of hand should come as no surprise to anyone familiar with Said's corrosive career. His own autobiography runs over with distortions and fabrications designed to establish his bona fides as a displaced Palestinian victim, and his supremely influential literary criticism, one of the primary sources for the politicized multiculturalism and post-colonialism that have corrupted the teaching of the humanities in America, twists and distorts the meanings of literary and cultural works with one end in mind: to portray the West as the root of all evil.

As for Columbia president George Rupp, he produced a mealy-mouthed statement after the attack, urging that we "be on guard that we do not in turn also become instruments of hatred or captives of a self-delusion that prevents our acknowledging how others view us." But he had not a word of reproach for Foner or Said.

Still, it is one thing to encounter such visceral disdain for one's country by one's fellow citizens in print, and quite another to see it up close and personal. Attending an antiwar rally at Connecticut's Wesleyan University on September 20, among 146 held that day across the nation, watching administrators and faculty troop to the podium and fail, even at such a moment, to see evil for what it is or to recognize the blessings of Western pluralism, one got a chilling sense of just how out of touch with reality such an institution has become.

The speakers represented the entire spectrum of leftist approaches to the earth-shattering event. Indira Karamcheti, a professor of American studies and English, declared: "We need to understand that the events that happened last Tuesday must be placed within their historical context. . . . There is a long history here we need to understand, not least the long history of resistance to imperialism, in which violence has been seen and often lauded as the most effective means with which to resist. Violence and guerrilla tactics are the tactics of the powerless. It's a system in which ordinary objects can be transformed into weaponry . . . and it has historical paradigms, not least in the American Revolution, the Black Panthers, the Algerian Revolution."

But the comparison between the homicidal Black Panthers and the Founding Fathers was not the low point of the occasion. Jonathan Cutler of the sociology department began his remarks with the Arabic greeting Salaam Alechem—"in solidarity with Muslims and in defiance of American arrogance and xenophobic jingoism"—but he quickly apologized, noting that as a non-Muslim he hadn't the right to use the phrase, and he had no wish to "mirror the global U.S. arrogance of familiarity in the world, that doesn't notice difference, that doesn't care to notice difference." As a Jew, he added, he had considered instead the Hebrew greeting Shana Tova—Happy New Year—but "I am not a Zionist, and I am not an American today. . . . If there's a war led by this government, it should not be in my name. . . . Bush said ‘hate’ before he grieved, he said ‘hunt’ before he grieved. . . . It is precisely the time for protest against the IMF and the World Bank, and here's why. I think it's wrong to suggest at this point that the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon were done by terrorists—not because they're not terrorists, but because they're the tip of the iceberg of a very big war; we just didn't know the war was going on until then. I really think we have been missing the anger toward the United States for so long, and operating in a world as if it didn't matter that there is a global movement of resistance to U.S. dominance. Now, I don't like the form of the movement that took down the World Trade towers," he allowed, fastidiously. "I don't like the tactics—I miss the skyline of New York, and I miss the people who died. I also don't like the anti-urban, anti-cosmopolitan nature of much of the resistance to globalization. I love New York. But this much I do know: if there is no justice, there will be no peace."

Then there was Gary Comstock, a sociology professor who is also the university chaplain, still clinging to the make-love-not-war philosophy. As the nation confronted an implacably murderous enemy, he offered these insights: "I think that the inability to love is the central problem, because that inability masks a certain terror, and that terror is the terror of being touched. And if you can't be touched, you can't be changed; and if you can't be changed, you can't be alive." Comstock went on to demonstrate his Ivy bona fides by describing how he had felt moved to turn, in this emergency, to "what I call my elders," including "the late author James Baldwin, a black man who was outspoken before the civil rights movement and a gay man who was ‘out' before the gay liberation movement."

Close to self-parody as they come, these speeches make clear what motivates those Americans, on campus and off, who remain in a state of moral denial even after getting a Technicolor view of evil: multiculturalism. This ideology goes way beyond preaching the tolerance that is a bedrock virtue of a pluralistic society to insisting that all cultures are equally good—regardless of whether they beat their women, practice slavery, or torture political dissidents. In earlier generations, the schools, the workplace, the entire society, pushed immigrants toward assimilating into the great American "melting pot." But as multiculturalism took hold, to require immigrant children to learn English, or be taught about the specialness of American history and the greatness of the ideas of the Founding Fathers, or to pledge allegiance to the flag came to seem a sign of gross cultural insensitivity, even of racism.

Multiculturalism explicitly disdains the notion of a coherent American identity and, while celebrating almost all symbols of ethnic and racial pride, winces at all displays of U.S. national feeling or unity. After the September 11 attack, a Florida Gulf Coast University librarian asked an employee to remove a PROUD TO BE AN AMERICAN sticker, because she didn't want to offend international students. "We've tried really hard to make sure people on our campus don't feel like they're looked at differently because they come from different religious or ethnic backgrounds," said a spokeswoman for the school. "If a mistake was made, it was made out of a very pure motive"—the passive voice denying anybody's personal responsibility.

But while multiculturalists believe absolutely in their own moral purity, they have utterly corroded the bases for most other sorts of moral judgments. They argue that each of us knows the world only through the eyes of his own specific culture, race, and gender. As a result, we cannot know truth, only the particular values that claim to be true within our own culture. Not only is impartial moral inquiry impossible; it is a rationalization for those who would use their "truth"—for the multiculturalist, there can be no universal Truth—to control the less powerful.

The moral paralysis these ideas have caused is blatantly obvious on college campuses. Writing in the Chronicle of Higher Education, one teacher of creative writing at Pasadena City College described a class discussion of Shirley Jackson's "The Lottery," in which students refused to judge the stoning of a village resident because they believed human sacrifice might be part of the villagers' religion. One student explained: "We are taught not to judge—and if [stoning] has worked for them," we can't condemn it. In another article in the same journal, a Hamilton College philosophy professor noted that his students were reluctant to judge Hitler, apartheid, and slavery. "Of course I dislike the Nazis," one student observed, "but who is to say they are morally wrong?"

If one can't judge Nazism morally repugnant, it's easy to ascribe to murderous terrorists understandable and even valid reasons. Aren't Islamist radicals expressing their own cultural truth?

If, as Steven Balch of the conservative National Association of Scholars observes, "we have yet to see how much damage a quarter century of miseducation has done," we can get a pretty good idea listening to the lone student speaker at the Wesleyan rally, a young man named Sajjadur Rahman of the Student Unity Network. Though he was introduced as having lost two relatives in the attack, once Rahman began speaking it was hard to summon up much sympathy for him. "So many have died," he said, early on in his rambling talk, "through acts of war perpetrated by a few individuals for their own selfish needs. I'm not a supporter of bin Ladin. To me, he's the same as George Bush: another millionaire fighting for his own oil."

In the mainstream press, the corrosive influence of multiculturalism normally takes a much subtler form than this overt anti-Americanism. Not that you don't find a stiff dose of America-bashing there, but it comes from the usual suspects and is unlikely to convince many beyond the already-converted. After September 11, there was much talk on NPR about "root causes" and the "cycle of violence"; the ever-predictable Katha Pollit, just one of many in The Nation seething over what they see as Americans' supposedly mindless patriotic excess, wrote of her disgust when her daughter asked for an American flag; aged leftist enfant terrible Susan Sontag infuriated even many New Yorker readers with her demand to know, even as the rubble was smoldering, "Where is the acknowledgment that this was not a ‘cowardly’ attack on ‘civilization’ or ‘liberty’ or ‘humanity’ or ‘the free world’ but an attack on the world's self-proclaimed superpower, undertaken as a consequence of specific American alliances and actions?"

In fact, when some high-profile journalists sounded as if they cared more about Muslims, foreign and domestic, than about non-Muslim Americans, they caught flak from other mainstream journalists. The New York Post's Andrea Peyser rapped the knuckles of CNN's Christiane Amanpour, long aggressively pro-Arab, for saying: "The issue of the United States' close alliance with Israel, the perception that the United States does not care as much about the suffering of Muslims, in Palestine, in what they call Palestine, is a key reason for the anti-Americanism on the rise in the Middle East"—though Palestine exists only in the minds of Palestinians and their sympathizers. Similarly, ABC's Peter Jennings, a former Middle East hand widely viewed as tilting toward the Arabs, drew fire from the Washington Post's Tom Shales when the newscaster's first impulse after the president's historic address to Congress was to interview the Muslim chaplain at Georgetown, as if to say that "the burning question of the moment was whether Bush had come out strongly enough against bigotry toward people of Islamic faith," as Shales interpreted it.

And more than a few journalistic jaws dropped on this side of the Atlantic when Stephen Jukes, global news editor for the British news service Reuters, ordered his reporters to excise the word "terrorist" from their coverage of the attacks. "One man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter," wrote Jukes in an internal memo. "We abstain from judgment and believe the word 'terrorist’ is a loaded term." As Fox News's Fred Barnes put it: "What does Reuters want to call these people? Activists?" As Barnes went on to point out, if Reuters feels a need to equivocate to protect its reporters, the company should pull them out. In fact, of course, those countries would bend over backward to prevent that: they rely on a sympathetic Western press to show the world their casualties and the children they line up as human shields in front of the potential targets of American bombs.

Almost certainly, then, the days are over when the New York Times would print, as it did on the very morning of September 11, a sympathetic interview with former Weatherman Bill Ayers, promoting a book subtitled The Making of a Terrorist. "I don't regret setting bombs," Ayers told the Times, reflecting on his group's own long-ago bombing of the Pentagon. "I feel we didn't do enough." Since the Twin Towers massacre, in fact, the Times has published more than a few full-throated expressions of patriotism and calls to moral fortitude. Columnist Thomas Friedman, for one, declared that, "War alone may not solve this problem, but neither will social work. . . . Every state has to know after September 11, harboring anti-U.S. terrorists will be lethal."

Still, the wish to "understand" the terrorists, to extenuate, perhaps to hold them harmless from reprisals and to lessen the moral distance between them and their victims, persists in ambivalent tension with the patriotism. A striking example comes from the Hartford Courant, Connecticut's largest daily, in its coverage of the Wesleyan rally. Willfully ignoring the rally's extreme anti-Americanism, the paper edited out Sajjadur Rahman's equation of bin Ladin and George Bush but lauded the Wesleyan student as a moral exemplar. "Two of his relatives were killed in the World Trade Center last week," began the long article, headlined PLEA FOR PEACE, "but Wesleyan University junior Sajjadur Rahman insists military retaliation is not the answer. ‘So many innocent lives have died through acts of war,’ Rahman, a Muslim, told the roughly 750 students gathered Thursday."

The Courant editors clearly share the sympathies of their reporter: strategically placed beneath the paper's account of President Bush's historic speech to Congress the previous evening, ran a story on a woman whose husband died in the collapse of the towers, headlined A SHY NURSE, THRUST INTO SPOTLIGHT, SENDS BUSH A PLEA FOR PEACE. " ‘I don't want my children to have to go to war to avenge their father's death,’ she said Thursday, blue eyes blazing, her weary face momentarily seeming less worn."

It is this kind of "objective" reporting that stands over the long term to weaken the nation's resolve. And in this vein, the New York Times, like so many left-liberal readers who rely on it for guidance, seemed, as the shock began to fade, to be groping toward a position that might leave its previous worldview intact. The paper began to focus increasingly on two of its obsessive themes: racism, in the form of bias crimes against Arabs; and threats to civil rights, in the form of criticisms of those speaking out against government policies. One article, entitled THE OTHER WAR, AGAINST INTOLERANCE, reminded readers that American racism continues to pose a threat, not far behind Islamic militancy. Another article with the patronizing headline, HEARTFELT LOVE OF COUNTRY IS A RUSH, BUT BEWARE THE UNDERTOW, warned of the potential dangers of patriotic feeling: bigotry, intolerance, censorship, naïveté, fanaticism, and smug feelings of superiority.

"That's the classic position for [baby-boomer journalists]," says biographer Sam Tanenhaus: "You get a byline, you get paid, you get a television appearance, and you get to denounce oppression and the evils of our culture—all of it without consequences. . . . The culture of victimology has by now been ratcheted up to such an extreme that many people find themselves more concerned about a Muslim getting a dirty look in the street than the curious silence of the intellectuals and leaders of that community about the terrorism itself."

That lowest of the culture-forming institutions—the entertainment industry—also vapored over American intolerance and its potential Muslim victims. A star-filled Hollywood super-benefit celebrating the heroism of New York's firefighters, police, and rescue workers, which aired on all the networks, commendably raised an estimated $150 million for the families of the attack victims. But the producers' energies seemed largely focused on a slickly produced segment on the fears of Muslim-American children, while what should have been the message of the moment—a call to moral purpose and high resolve—received only the briefest of statements, from Clint Eastwood.

But in the entertainment industry—and in the liberal churches and the schools, as well—the note that sounded most insistently was a deep note of moral lethargy, rising out of affluence and security, out of New Age religious longings combined with all-you-need-is-love pacifism, out of therapeutic nonjudgmentalism, multiculturalism, and a virtually total historical amnesia. All these trends have generated an almost willful inability to imagine evil—except, of course, the evils of American racism, sexism, and homophobia. Certainly there is nothing in the lethargist's philosophy that could dream of Islamist holy warriors bent on destroying them and their civilization, rejoicing as they incinerate thousands at a blow.

Many entertainers advised fans to stick with their pre-September 11 focus on self-actualization rather than on civic affairs. Oprah Winfrey told the vast crowd at a Yankee Stadium prayer service: "What really matters is who you love and how you love." Madonna's message, too, was one of narcissistic self-regard barely disguised as principled pacifism. "Violence begets violence," she warned a Los Angeles audience. "I don't know about you, but I want to live a long, happy life. I want my kids to live a long, happy life." That her children's lives were under attack seemed not to occur to her. "I said it last night, and I'll say it again," she declared, sounding like the chaplain at Wesleyan, "if you want to change the world, change yourself."

In a TV tribute to John Lennon to benefit families of the Twin Towers rescue workers, among others, Yoko Ono told a cheering crowd: "John always said, ‘There are no problems, only solutions.’ " The program offered some of those solutions: "Think of your children. Do you want war and them to be killed, or not? That's the choice we have, between war and peace." By the time a rock group sang the Beatles' refrain "Nothing's Gonna Change My World," it seemed likely that this sentiment will remain the entertainment industry's orthodoxy—until it is too late.

These New Age messages differed little from what some mainstream churches had to offer. Manhattan's Riverside Church staged "An Evening of Peace," at which Thich Nhat Hanh of the United Buddhist Church, with "special friends" Judy Collins and Paul Winter, called on the congregation to "disintegrate hatred." The National Council of Churches decried "anger and vengeance." Houses of worship warned against "vengeance"—as if "vengeance" and waging war on those who would destroy our civilization were the same thing. Certainly religious leaders offered little help in understanding the problem of evil that now stares us in the face; as the New York Times reported approvingly, philosophers and theologians were worried that casting the fight against global terrorism as a crusade of good against evil would make Americans "feel not only morally alive, but morally superior."

A contrast seems in order, this one involving the words written by Msgr. James H. O'Neill, chief chaplain of the Third Army, when George Patton called upon him during the Battle of the Bulge to pray for good weather, so that American planes might bomb the German forces besieging Bastogne. "Almighty and most merciful Father," he complied, "grant us fair weather for Battle. Graciously hearken to us as soldiers who call upon Thee that, armed with Thy power, we may advance from victory to victory, and crush the oppression and wickedness of our enemies and establish Thy justice among men and nations."

Though press accounts suggested that all over the country students are for the first time in decades learning the words of "America the Beautiful" rather than "We Are the World," many educators, wedded to a therapeutically tinged multiculturalism, were reluctant to help the next generation come to grips with their country's watershed moment. Under the title "Dealing with September 11th," the New York City Board of Education, for instance, offered teachers a curriculum in the form of recommended Web sites. Don't look for any information on Islamic fundamentalism or Usama bin Ladin, though. According to the board, what students need to learn largely falls under the headings "Promoting Tolerance" and "Mental Health"—the multiculti and therapeutic agenda. The board listed only four sites under what it called "Social Studies" and "Government," and these were on the order of "e-pals"—"e-mail exchange opportunities to promote understanding." The National Association of School Psychologists was even worse. "Discuss historical instances of American intolerance," is the kind of psychological advice its Web site offers. "Identify ’heroes’ [those scare-quotes, again!] of varying backgrounds involved in response to the attacks."

And even worse still, the association's message to teachers on how to talk to children about the attack assumes that they should treat pupils' indignation or desire for military reprisal as understandable but immature and inappropriate. "A natural reaction to horrific acts of violence like the recent terrorist attacks on the United States is the desire to lash out and punish the perpetrators," the authors of the Web site message explained, echoing the language of the conflict-resolution courses that have indoctrinated the nation's schools with the idea that there is no right and wrong, since each side has its own valuable point of view. "People who are angry or frightened often feel that the ability to ‘fight back’ puts them more in control or will alleviate their sense of pain." In the New York Times, Richard Rothstein approvingly quoted a self-satisfied Providence, Rhode Island high schooler well trained in conflict resolution but evidently ignorant of Roosevelt, Pearl Harbor, or Dachau: "In class they keep on saying that the bigger person is the one who walks away from the fight, the one who wants peace. How many people do we have to kill to make Americans feel better? Some of these politicians who want war are acting younger than we are."

A FEMA Web site echoed this therapeutic approach to the question of "what to tell the children." The important thing is to get kids to express their fear and sadness. "Share your feelings," FEMA advised teachers. "Talk with children about how they are feeling and listen without judgment."

Taking it all to heart, Peter Jennings moderated a TV show called "ABC News Answers Children's Questions" that aspired to play the nation's first news-therapist. When a child spoke of not wanting her soldier-father to leave for the Middle East, Jennings called upon a mental-health worker, who bubbled: "It's her emotion and feeling that will make her all right." Unfortunately for Jennings, most of the other kids refused to follow the script. The truth is, as many therapists who rushed to schools and churches after the attack discovered, most kids can't yet understand the earthshaking implications of the attack and are just not that frightened. "Do you feel safe this week?" Jennings prodded a seven-year-old. "Yes," she succinctly replied. Complained another child: "My mom and dad want to talk about it all the time, and I don't."

Jennings did get one young girl to tell him: "We've been planting bombs in other people's homes. We're getting a taste of our own medicine." The scrupulous Jennings nodded, "That's really very interesting." It at last took a boy of about ten to point out that Americans "do not intentionally kill thousands of innocent people." Evidently Jennings did not find the ten-year-old's point "really very interesting" and had nothing to say.

The good news is that, on the evidence, vastly more Americans these days have more in common with the ten-year-old than with the ABC anchor. "I've been amazed not at what our elite are saying," notes classicist and military historian Victor Davis Hanson, author of Carnage and Culture, "but by how many ordinary people aren't paying attention. . . . [The elites] live in a culture that's just not connected to the rest of us."

In what was said to be his first interview after the attacks, appearing in a fundamentalist Pakistani paper a week before his horrific videotape, Usama bin Ladin was quoted as saying the United States had been gripped by "psychological helplessness," that "fear is the most lethal weapon," and that the U.S. media had "injected a feeling of psychological helplessness . . . permanently into the American people." And doubtless in surveying American culture our pitiless foe finds much evidence to support such a malign view.

What he cannot see, in his cultural incomprehension, are the numberless indications of our collective strength, character, and resolve. Yale's Stephen Smith tells of the student who told him she's thinking of joining the CIA—"the first time I ever heard anything like that at Yale," he remarks. In Arlington, Virginia, according to the Washington Post, a progressive school where students had earlier resisted a new Virginia law requiring that schools set aside time for the Pledge of Allegiance, spontaneously rose at an assembly the day they returned to school after September 11 to recite the pledge they had so recently scorned.

There's evidence that even many children of the sixties are at long last starting to grow up morally. "The word 'evil' isn't funny anymore," Scott Adams, creator of the popular cartoon "Dilbert," was reported as saying. Observed Slate senior writer King Kaufman, in an article that probably speaks for many of his boomer contemporaries: "This is a new feeling for me, this feeling that we're the good guys and we're fighting the bad guys."

Speaking to new faculty just days after the tragedy, Boston University president Jon Westling struck a note that increasingly resonates with Americans everywhere. "We are charged," he said, "with the molding of adult and responsible character, and helping ensure that this generation of students is worthily prepared to inherit a civilization built on centuries of effort and sacrifice. If it is to continue to be a civilization that faces adversity with courage, that answers darkness with light, we have important work before us."

Indeed, there's reason to hope that even the most benighted American moral equivocators may come to realize that the message of September is the exact opposite of the one they've been preaching. It is Western culture that has given us tolerance, pluralism, debate, freedom—indeed, multiculturalist sympathies themselves—and it is Western culture that we must find the fortitude to defend.

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