The Jeremiah conundrum: is the antiwar right’s anger justified?

VFR reader Jeff Kantor, commenting on my article today at FrontPage Magazine, suggested the possibility that the antiwar right may be justifiably anti-American, because America may have become so decadent that it deserves to be destroyed, or at least the antiwar right feels it to be so:

I have found in email correspondence with opponents of the war that much of the traditionalist right has come to regard America as so totally sunk in barbarisms like abortion and homosexuality and the pushing of the same abroad through international organizations that it has become virtually unsavalgeable—part of a sort of “Aztec Empire” (a term they often use.) I don’t agree with this view, of course, but I have some sympathy with it. I think all traditionalists would have to admit that at some point if current trends continue, America may become something vicious and not worth supporting at all. I think this genuinely traditionalist fear, even if it jumps the gun in its judgments, has enough legitimacy to be addressed with a degree of respect. This is, I suppose, a part of the fear and anger that you posit as root causes, but it helps to explain HOW traditionalists have found themselves in this crazy position.

I replied:

This is a very true point. I’ve said the same myself (e.g., in my commentary on Thomas Fleming’s article about 9/11). This is the terrible, Atlas Shrugged-like dilemma that traditionalists and patriots find themselves in. But even if one reached the point of deciding that America had to go down, one could approach it like Jeremiah, or one could approach it like Fleming. Jeremiah felt that Judah deserved to be defeated because it had turned away from God. He saw the Babylonians as the agents of God’s punishment. But he didn’t say that the Babylonians were right! He didn’t say that Judah deserved defeat at the hands of the Babylonians for something it had done to them! He didn’t express schadenfreude at the destruction of his own society! He was tortured by what was happening, but saw it as the only way that Israel could be chastised and perhaps return to the right way.

That is nothing like the anti-Americanism of so much of the paleocon and Buchananite right. Those people actively side with our enemies because “the enemy of my enemy is my friend,” even as, contradictorily, they charge that our terrorist enemies don’t really exist but are only a myth manufactured by the neocons.

Jeremiah was objectively anti-Judah, but was still following God. Many people on the antiwar right are objectively anti-American, but they are only following their own furies and resentments.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at December 16, 2004 10:13 PM | Send

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