If someone asked you to guess who said that a sitting president “occupied a position … enjoyed by those who do business while others bleed” — then predicted the collapse of “a country where everything is built on the dollar,” no doubt you’d name one of the Democratic contenders for president in 2020. But that appraisal is actually found in Hitler’s Dec. 11, 1941, declaration of war on the United States. The sitting president was, of course, Franklin Delano Roosevelt and the system Hitler held in contempt was our free-market system.
We expect our enemies to denounce us, but when top-polling candidates running for president cast themselves as would-be transformers of a failed nation, it’s time to review how we got here and gauge where we’re headed if anti-Americanism becomes a winning platform in the 2020 election.
Prior to 1970, a leftist firebrand could be dismissed as a crank who would find fault in a rainbow if everyone else admired it. When Susan Sontag’s 1967 manifesto concluded “the white race is the cancer of human history,” critics were quick to charge her with “hip posturing.” They never dreamed that 10 years later a band of university scholars would become stars in their fields by calling dead white males the scourge of “humankind” — the origin of racism, sexism and imperialism, which have made the United States “a menace to the world and to itself,” as Princeton professor Richard Falk said while serving on the United Nations Human Rights Council.
With the 1980 publication of Howard Zinn’s “The People’s History,” anti-Americanism became the touchstone for enlightenment among leftist professors and among students who are required to read Zinn’s takedown of American history. Zinn was not the first to call for “demonstrations, marches, civil disobedience, strikes and boycotts … to redistribute wealth and to reconstruct institutions.” But when he recast the founders as mere patrons of “guns and greed,” he set the stage for UVA students to spray paint “racist + rapist” on Jefferson’s statue and for Columbia students to top his statue with a KKK hood — to name but two such plots.
Before 2001, our universities had served as de facto internment camps for leftists who share Zinn’s contempt for American “imperialism” and his “utopian” vision that includes free “food, housing, health care, and education.” But with 9/11 came their chance to cite Western “policy” — both foreign and domestic — as the real cause of calamities, both here and abroad. It took Sontag exactly 13 days to tell The New Yorker that those monstrous attacks were “undertaken as a consequence of specific American alliances and actions,” and this time about half of us came to agree with “the queen of knee-jerk anti-Americanism.”
Armed with a new world view — anything Western bad — all the hard left lacked was a leader whose style could gild the message. Enter Obama, who was elected on a pledge to “transform this nation,” that is, to redistribute income here at home and to genuflect his way to peace with our enemies. What we got instead was an eight-year reign that left Al Sharpton in charge of recruiting victims, white people apologizing for, well, being white, and law enforcement set up as the measure of homegrown evil.
Now we learn that Obama’s successors occupy a moral ground even higher than that of their demigod — whose record on trade, health care and immigration fell short of their mission to install a free-for-all government— and to atone nonstop for American guilt. When top-polling Biden called our “English jurisprudential culture, a white man’s culture” that’s “got to change,” the distance between the Democratic platform and the deep end became one short stroke.
Pope Benedict XVI said it best: “The West … no longer loves itself. In its own history, it now sees only what is deplorable and destructive, while it is no longer able to perceive what is great and pure.” Leftists ignored “God’s Rottweiler” but are fond of quoting Samuel Johnson’s line “Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel”— apparently unaware that Johnson’s real target had been scoundrels who claim patriotism as a cover for cowardice.
To hear the 2020 Democratic candidates speak is to see that anti-Americanism is now the first refuge of the hard left.