Back in the 1950s, a southern journalist named Harry Golden became famous by turning out a series of best-selling books, the first of which he called Only in America. The title was a reference to a popular expression that reflected the feeling of most of his countrymen that America was special, a unique place that offered millions of people unlimited freedom to express themselves and to achieve dreams that were unimaginable anywhere else on earth.
In the half century since Mr. Golden wrote his book, things have undergone a sea change in this country. Partly the change has come about because of Viet Nam and Watergate. But mainly because the Baby Boomers, surely the most selfish and infantile generation in our history, have achieved positions of power and influence; partly because the Fourth Estate came to be infested with Fifth Columnists, reporters and commentators who believe they are fulfilling their destinies only when they are tearing down the country, its traditional values and symbols; partly because Communism, which should have been left to die and be buried in the Soviet Union, took root and flourished on America's college campuses; and partly because Jimmy Carter, a sanctimonious phony who never met a despot he didn't adore, and Bill Clinton, an amoral opportunist who somehow went from being a punk in England bad-mouthing America during a time of war, to being a military-hating commander-in-chief, were elected to the highest office in the land.
The end result of all this is that we have wound up with a society, not of useful idiots, but of useless ones. We have so badly confused ourselves that the people who most despise America regard themselves as our greatest patriots. They call America an imperialistic power even though we haven't claimed an acre of foreign turf in my lifetime. They insist that we only go to war over oil, although we have made no move to confiscate the oil fields in Kuwait or Iraq. While condemning anything and everything that George W. Bush has done in the past six years, accusing him of trampling on our civil rights without being able to point to a single one, and equating him with Hitler, they sing the praises of such dictators as Fidel Castro and Hugo Chavez.
The one thing all of these blithering fatheads can agree about is that war must be avoided at all costs. In order to promote this cockeyed notion, they even pretend to be concerned about the safety of America's warriors, even though we know only too well that they despise America's military.
Bruce Bawer, author of While Europe Slept, recently wrote a terrific article titled "All Aboard the Peace Racket," in which he eviscerated the peaceniks. He starts out by quoting the Roman general Flavius Vegetius Renatus, who observed in the fifth century that "If you want peace, prepare for war." These days, that bit of sage advice has been turned on its head by the likes of Ohio's Dennis Kucinich, who is quietly campaigning to create a Cabinet-level Peace Department.
An honest peace, as Mr. Bawer points out, is a good thing. Pacifism, however, is not. Instead, "it promotes a mentality that plays directly into the hands of despots." How could it not? The reason, after all, that Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr., were able to be relatively successful in their missions was because England and the United States were civilized nations. Is there anybody who actually believes that Stalin, Hitler, the Taliban or Saddam Hussein, would have been equally reasonable?
According to Bawer, the founding father of the global peace movement is a 77-year-old Norwegian professor named Johan Galtung, who, in 1959, established the International Peace Research Institute. If that sounds as much like the name of a Communist front group to you as it does to me, it shouldn't surprise you that Galtung calls America a "killer country" that indulges in "neo-fascist state terrorism." On the other hand, he's not always such a big grouch. Back in the 1970s, he wrote glowingly about Mao Tse-tung's China, and even as he approaches the age of 80, he's still shooting from the hip. Not too long ago, he called for the creation of a Truth and Reconciliation Committee in Iraq, not to address the atrocities of Saddam Hussein and his Baathist butchers, but, predictably, those he attributes to the U.S.
Unfortunately, Prof. Galtung isn't the only left-wing chowderhead in the upper reaches of academia. The peace studies chairman at Brandeis said, on behalf of suicide bombings, that they provide "ways of inflicting revenge on an enemy that seems unable or unwilling to respond to rational pleas for discussion and justice."
Similar asinine remarks have been made by professors involved in the peace movement at Purdue, Notre Dame and the University of Maine. What is taught in so-called peace studies departments all over this country is quite simply that America is the root cause of all evil.
One of the favorite lines bandied about by tenured leftists is George Santayana's oft-misquoted "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." And yet that is exactly what they do, and with a stubbornness that would leave even the dumbest of mules duly impressed. Like the most fearful school child, they are only too happy to comply with the bully's demand for their lunch money. Compounding their cowardly sin of appeasement, they then applaud themselves for their maturity and cool judgment.
Less than 70 years ago, Neville Chamberlain, the umbrella-toting poster boy for pacifism, returned to England after selling out Czechoslovakia to Hitler, and vowed there would be peace in our time. What bears remembering is that he barely had time to unpack from his misguided trip to Munich when Germany marched into Poland.