Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Matthew Yglesias: No, When Did You Stop Beating Your Wife?

I had really thought Jon Chait's initial reply to Joe Lieberman's deranged complaint that "there is something profoundly wrong when opposition to the war in Iraq seems to inspire greater passion than opposition to Islamist extremism" was perfectly adequate, but Jonah Goldberg seems interested in this goofy debate perhaps we should turn the question around: Why does opposition to the anti-war movement inspire greater passion among conservatives than does opposition to Islamist extremism?

In my opinion, it's a mixed bag of motives. Hating liberals has been a core element of American conservatism since long before anyone knew or cared what Islamist extremism was. What's more, a lot of conservatives are greedy. Write a book about how Hillary Clinton is like Musolini and you might sell some copies; get paid. Of course, that doesn't really excuse it since the reason liberal-bashing books sell better than earnest tomes about counterterrorism policy is, precisely, that conservatives are more emotionally invested in liberal-bashing than in opposing Islamism. There's also the fact that your average conservative probably doesn't know any radical Islamists personally, so they kind of carry a psychological grudge against liberals that they don't share with regard to Islamist extremists.

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