Writing in the New Republic (“The Case for Bush Hatred: Mad About You,” Sept. 29, 2003) Jonathan Chait, emblematic of many Eastern liberals, states: “I hate President George W. Bush. There, I said it . . . I hate him . . . I hate the inequitable way he has come to his economic and political achievements . . . I hate the way he walks . . . I hate the way he talks . . . I even hate the things that everybody seems to like about him . . . And, while most people who meet Bush claim to like him, I suspect that, if I got to know him personally, I would hate him even more.”
Until recently, such raw and visceral hatred of the President was confined to the approving circles of Manhattan’s Upper East Side restaurants and the yappers on the Upper West Side.
Convinced that their eight- square-mile universe reflects what all enlightened people think, the Jonathan Chaits of the world feel no shame in broadcasting their boorish verbiage to a public shocked by such vulgarity. After all, as Mr. Chait writes: “There seem to be quite a few of us Bush haters.”
Why do they so hate George Bush? Why is he, rather than Saddam Hussein, the object of their most intense loathing?
They hate him because he is too American. As internationalists first, they disdain anything too distinctly American. An America that is unsure and forever critical of itself is the America they prefer. A persona such as Bush’s-a south-westerner, rancher, Bible-believing Christian-represents an America they cannot control, one at which they sneer and seek to subdue. One they call “dumb.”
Even more than differences in policy, the gap lies in the fact that, culturally, he is too much unlike them. As with Reagan before and John Ashcroft now, it is the thoroughly American personality and pure patriotism of Bush that triggers the automatic assaults on his policies. Liberal men from Venus look at him as if he is from Mars.
Though Ted Kennedy and Bill Clinton, for example, are also unlike this crowd, these top Democrats are made acceptable and less American by espousing United Nations and World Court hegemony over the United States, and by favoring a diffusive, multi-cultural America, an America more apologetic, constantly self-critical, less Christian, more European. Having long ago shed themselves of the traditional values of their mother religions, the “sophisticates” feel antipathy for those faithful to traditional American values as personified by George Bush and greater kinship to liberals like Kennedy and Clinton irreverent of traditional American norms.
While most of the country is pleased to be labeled American, the Hamptons, Hollywood and Greenwich Village crowd aspires to and feels gratification when labeled European. No doubt, most of this crowd would vote for Jacques Chirac, if possible, over Bush, Cheney, Reagan, etc. as President of the United States.
This aloofness from and discomfort with the thoroughly American personality was first openly proclaimed in 1994 when Newt Gingrich was elected Speaker of the House.
“I don’t know anybody with the name ‘Newt.’ None of my friends here in New York has such a name,” cried one of Manhattan’s activists. Similarly, immediately after September 11, Michael Wolff, a writer in New York Magazine, proclaimed: “I’m a New Yorker, not an American.”
This is what distinguishes the New York Times crowd from Democrats in, say, Parma, Ohio, a Polish-populated Cleveland suburb. Though blue-collar union loyalists who vote Democrat, they don’t disparage Reagan, Bush or Cheney as “unlike them,” nor are they internationalists first.
Ironically, immigrant parents who worshiped America have spawned grandchildren who, like Al Franken, have become hysterical and frenzied against America and those “not like them”-the “others”-even as they have been integrated into it and embraced by all. Though today prosperous and well-placed, the elusiveness of a world too American, still beyond their control, results in a disdain papering-over insecurity. Thus do they also disparage and minimize the military, for it is where others excel.
For many, this social discomfort has evolved into predictable political opposition to American policies conducted by men and women too Republican, i.e. too resolute in their Americanism. Indeed, many now define being a good liberal with being anti-American, since they have been taught that America is the world’s locus of racism, sexism, imperialism, homophobia, right-wing Christianism.
One’s attitude toward America has become the yardstick by which New York liberals measure a person’s character. People suspicious of our country and countrymen are good; those in love with the country and its historic ways are bad. Most wicked, and thus deserving of hate, are men such as Bush, Cheney and Ashcroft, who simply look, smell and taste too American. The self-annointed purveyors of tolerance have themselves become bigots.
The self-righteousness found among New York liberals who for decades arrogated to themselves the title “champions of human rights” is such that they sanitize their blatant indifference to Saddam Hussein’s human rights horrors, since what they think-not the facts-determines what is acceptable.
Their opposition even today to the war in Iraq exposing Saddam’s sixty mass grave sites, torture chambers, beheadings and random rapes of women proves how, in their mind, a moral position is simply what they say it is, no matter that it contradicts decency and all classic moral principles.
In today’s fashionable liberalism, anti-Americanism has become the moral imperative and, therefore, a war against Iraq by America is construed as immoral, notwithstanding the outstanding humanitarian deed it was. Voguishness has replaced principle.
Lawyers such as Stanley Cohen, as well as the ACLU, vigorously defend Islamic terrorists not because they care more about civil rights than the average American, but because in their demented worldview an enemy of America must be good inasmuch as that enemy is arrayed against America the racist, America the imperialist. To them, as evidenced by the lawsuits they bring, the real enemies are the Boy Scouts, the pledge of allegiance, the flag: all American traditions.
Though anti-Americanism among intellectuals dates back to the early thirties, most New York liberals did not ingest it fully until a decade ago. As the first Republican President in eight years, Bush is the recipient, more than his predecessors, of the hate born of this new anti-Americanism.
To be sure, some, not as ideological, spout anti-Bushisms and anti-Americanisms simply because that is the entrance ticket into the fashionable club-the sought-after clique. Anti-Bush snootiness is the admission to the gilded ghetto enamored more of Europe than America.
Though priding themselves as internationalists, they live in a parochialism apart from the rest of the country. They have become drugged by a new opiate: anti-Americanism, the opiate of the Left.