J. Peter Scoblic's U.S. Vs. Them (out last April) examines fifty years of crusading conservatives and the foreign policy wreckage they've left in their wake. It's reviewed today by Sara Robinson over at Alternet:
Whenever you hear a conservative go on about "moral clarity," this is precisely what they're saying. There is always an enemy. They are always out to get us. They will stop at nothing. You cannot coddle them or negotiate with them; you can only survive by annihilating them. And people who see the moral world clearly will not waste time or breath questioning these essential truths.Bush, in other words, wasn't so much guided by neo-conservatives as by straightforward conservative fearfulness.
It's pretty stunning stuff when you read it that way. It really makes you realize that conservatives live in a world of paranoia, xenophobia and seething aggression that most progressives can't even fathom. And their entire moral universe has been twisted to serve their externalized fears; to take that will to project their own demons onto someone else and then destroy them and elevate it as the highest possible moral good.
It's a definition of "morality" that renders the rule of law meaningless but readily justifies genocide and torture as moral acts of self-preservation.
Robinson exhorts us to call out conservatives on their peculiarly narrow view of "morality" and to remember the Enlightenment values that informed our forebears:
We believe moral clarity is defined by the Constitution, embodied in the rule of law and on display wherever the dignity of other people -- including those whose interests oppose ours -- is upheld. And, in case there's any question about where the real moral clarity lies here: Ours is the morality America was founded on. Theirs is one that almost put that light out forever.Amen.