Jewish World Review March 20, 2003/ 16 Adar II, 5763
Kissing cousins: New York literati and Nazis
http://www.NewsAndOpinion.com | It became clear the nation was finally going to war with Iraq this week when The New York Times pulled two dozen reporters off the Augusta National Golf Club story. In a speech to the nation on Monday night, President Bush gave Saddam Hussein 48 hours to get out of Baghdad, warning that the American military was poised to remove him forcibly.
Many still held out hope that Saddam would abandon power without a fight, primarily so we could listen to liberals explain how a peaceful resolution was brought about by their urgent demands that we work through the United Nations, and had nothing to do with the fact that Saddam was surrounded by 200,000 American troops.
In response to Bush's ultimatum, Saddam's son, Uday Hussein, said Bush was stupid. He said Bush wanted to attack Iraq because of his family. And he said American boys would die. At least someone is finding The New York Times editorial page helpful these days.
In angry harangues largely indistinguishable from the one by Uday Hussein, the Democrats were also hopping mad at Bush. Sen. Joe Lieberman, D-Conn., spent 40 minutes detailing Saddam Hussein's manifest cruelties and violations of all human norms. Without breaking a sweat, Lieberman then said he could understand why the French were not bothered by these indisputable barbarisms: It was Bush's failure of "diplomacy." Bush, the clod, had failed to convince the inconvincible.
Sen. Tom Daschle, D-S.D., said: "I'm saddened, saddened that this president failed so miserably at diplomacy that we're now forced to war. Saddened that we have to give up one life because this president couldn't create the kind of diplomatic effort that was so critical for our country." Mostly, the Democrats were saddened that America was about to win a war.
With the nation on the verge of a glorious military triumph, liberals have had to put their predictions of a Vietnam "quagmire" on the back burner for a few weeks. Instead, they have turned with a vengeance to attacking "American arrogance." The day after President Bush's speech, Washington Post columnist David Ignatius spoke of self-defeating "American arrogance." The Post quoted "a senior U.S. official" (in newspaper jargon: "a janitor at the Pentagon") who warned of "a degree of hubris unprecedented in American history."
The New York Times' lead editorial on Tuesday also bemoaned American "hubris." One front-page article called Bush trigger-happy and another bitterly accused him of breaking a campaign pledge to preside over a "humble" America. In the 19 months since the 9/11 attack, the Times has used the phrase "American arrogance" nearly as many times (17) as in the entire 96 months of the Clinton presidency (24). Instead of American arrogance, the Times yearns for Clintonian flatulence.
There was no more eloquent testimony to what liberals mean by "American arrogance" than an article in the March 10 New Yorker, which nonchalantly quoted a Nazi in support of the proposition that Americans are jingoistic, imperialist rednecks. Amid page after gleeful page of European venom toward Americans, Columbia University professor Simon Schama quoted the anti-American bile of Norwegian writer and renowned Nazi-sympathizer Knut Hamsun.
Schama admiringly cited Hamsun's contempt for American boosterism, neglecting to mention that Hamsun went for Hitler boosterism in a big way. Beginning in the early '30s and until his death in 1952, Hamsun was absolutely smitten with Adolf Hitler. He exchanged gifts and telegrams with Goebbels and Hitler. Indeed, so enamored of Joseph Goebbels was he, that Hamsun gave Goebbels his own Nobel Prize medal.
When the Nazis invaded Norway, Hamsun wrote a newspaper column saying: "NORWEGIANS! Throw down your rifles and go home again. The Germans are fighting for us all." Tearful upon news of the Fuhrer's death, Hamsun was quoted in an obituary on Hitler saying: "I am not worthy to speak his name." He never equivocated and he never apologized.
While he issued tributes to Hitler, Hamsun wrote the ironically titled book "The Cultural Life of Modern America," which, as professor Schama sniggeringly writes, was "largely devoted to asserting its nonexistence." Hamsun called America "a strapping child-monster whose runaway physical growth would never be matched by moral or cultural maturity." It must have been a relief for Hamsun to find such genuine "cultural maturity" in Nazi Germany.
Hamsun hated America for all the reasons liberals hate America. To the delight of New York sophisticates, Hamsun once sneered at pathetic Americans marching in veterans' parades, "with tiny flags in their hats and brass medals on their chests marching in step to the hundreds of penny whistles they are blowing." America's little patriotic parades apparently compared unfavorably to a stirring Nazi war rally.
This is the essence of liberal admiration for Europeans and their pompous cultural snobbery. For proof that Americans are immature hicks in an ugly jingoistic mood, they cite a Nazi.