Commentary Magazine


Contentions

Peter Beinart’s Lamentation

Peter Beinart is very unhappy — at President Obama, at Republicans, at Democrats, and at America itself. Beinart writes:

The president is furiously backtracking; Republicans are clawing over each other to demonize Muslims; Democrats are dead silent. It’s time to face reality. Whether or not the “ground zero” mosque ever gets built, the political debate is over. Decency lost.

So almost nine years after September 11, we need to confront a few painful truths. First, while the military and counterintelligence aspects of the struggle against al Qaeda will likely last long into the future, the “war of ideas” is over. America has thrown in the towel.

Beinart adds this:

Congratulations, Republicans, you’ve safeguarded ground zero against the insidious threat of religious liberty. I’ve always found going there a deeply moving experience, but for the time being, at least, I’ve lost my desire to go. Hallowed ground? After the unforgivable events of the last month, it’s become a little less hallowed for me.

Set aside (if you can) the melodramatic prose. What we are seeing is evidence of a deep and growing alienation — not just in Mr. Beinart but among many liberals. They increasingly view themselves as caught up in a world filled with anguish, with emptiness, with moral meaninglessness.

We are at the early stages of an important phenomenon. Liberals, unable to come to terms with the manifold failures of President Obama, are becoming increasingly alienated from our country and from its political system. The public overwhelmingly opposes them on everything — from building the mosque near Ground Zero to ObamaCare, from the effort to sue Arizona over its law for curbing illegal immigration to much else. In response, their rhetoric is becoming increasingly shrill. Scapegoats must be found — and they include Obama’s predecessor, the GOP, the Tea Party, our political culture, Congress, and the public itself.

We have seen this kind of alienation happen before with the rise of the New Left in the late 1960s and early 1970s. What we may be seeing today is the emergence of a New New Left.

This would be very bad for liberalism and for America.