In 2004, when Sen. Ted Kennedy was temporarily grounded by the appearance of a certain "T. Kennedy" on the No-Fly List, it was treated as an amusing bureaucratic snafu. But is it possible the government was on to something? Dinesh D'Souza, the right-wing author and critic, has made his own list, and Ted Kennedy is the very first name. D'Souza identifies more than 100 people and organizations as part of a "domestic insurgency" that is "working in tandem with [Osama] bin Laden to defeat Bush." Among them are such well-known terrorists as Sharon Stone, Henry Louis Gates and Cindy Sheehan. If you've ever given money to Planned Parenthood or the ACLU, D'Souza wants you to know, you've been aiding groups "at least as dangerous as any of bin Laden's American sleeper cells." So if you find yourself getting on a plane with Kennedy, or even Noam Chomsky, you might want to think about driving instead.
In his new book, ominously titled "The Enemy at Home," D'Souza takes pains to insist that "I am not accusing anyone of treason or even of anti-Americanism." He's merely identifying people who, blinded by hatred of President Bush, actively work to promote the interests of the jihad--by inflating a few tawdry pranks at Abu Ghraib into allegations of torture, for example, or spreading defeatism about America's success in Iraq. So it's not as if he's the second coming of Joseph McCarthy, although he happens to believe McCarthy was by and large right. He's just keeping a list.
But this is only half of D'Souza's indictment of "the Left." It's not just that they're working on behalf of bin Laden--they are also, paradoxically, responsible for bin Laden's hatred of America in the first place, by attempting to foist their decadent moral values on the rest of the world. D'Souza cites the long self-justifying statement bin Laden released in 2002, but ignores the entire first half of it, which deals with the Arabs' geopolitical and economic grievances, and skips to his denunciation of America as "the worst civilization in the history of mankind," sunk into "fornication, homosexuality, intoxicants [and] gambling." To D'Souza, this is a trenchant cultural critique; the road to 9/11 begins with reruns of "Baywatch," raining down their suggestive filth on the conservative, patriarchal societies of Islam.
In short, D'Souza believes that bin Laden, although his tactics were deplorable, was expressing a legitimate case against America, that notorious fount of pornography, homosexuality and women's liberation. "What traditional cultures ... consider deviant and disgusting," he writes, "many liberals consider progressive and liberating." Illustrating the cultural obtuseness of the left, D'Souza quotes New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof's identification of "gender equality in the developing world" as "the central moral challenge of this century." That sounds a lot less fatuous when you realize that Kristof was writing about a Pakistani woman who was sentenced by a tribal court to be gang-raped as punishment for an alleged offense by her brother. D'Souza's admiration for traditional customs doesn't go that far, but apparently neither does he think it's any of America's business to interfere with this time-honored practice. Of course those tribesmen are going to resent those liberal busy-bodies! Hillary Clinton comes off even worse; D'Souza accuses her of trying to legalize prostitution in the rest of the world, a ridiculous charge stemming from an arcane 2000 debate over the wording of a treaty to outlaw the sexual-slavery trade.
The book was already generating controversy and had reached No. 160 on the Amazon sales rankings last week, although none of the "enemies" identified by D'Souza contacted by NEWSWEEK had seen it yet. Presumably, Barbra Streisand has been called worse things. But the rest of the country might want to take note of who is part of this dangerous domestic insurgency. Just in case that's Norman Mailer standing next to you on the subway.
There's a "domestic insurgency" afoot, D'Souza warns, that's "at least as dangerous" as bin Laden's operatives. Here are some of the names on his list:
The Congressional Left Sen. Hillary Clinton; Sen. Ted Kennedy; Rep. Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House; Rep. Charles Rangel; former representative Cynthia McKinney; Rep. Barney Frank
The Intellectual Left Noam Chomsky, professor of linguistics at MIT; Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates; author Thomas Frank ("What's the Matter With Kansas"); Robert Reich, former secretary of Labor; Harvard Law School professor Laurence Tribe; author Garry Wills
The Hollywood Left Martin Sheen; Barbra Streisand; Tim Robbins; Susan Sarandon; Sean Penn; Harry Belafonte; Spike Lee; RosieO'Donnell; Cameron Diaz; Sharon Stone
The Activist Left Howard Dean; Michael Moore; philanthropist George Soros; Cindy Sheehan; Paul Begala; Jim Wallis, preacher and activist; blogger Markos Moulitsas (Daily Kos)
The Foreign-Policy Left Jimmy Carter; Gore Vidal, novelist; journalists Seymour Hersh (The New Yorker), Jonathan Schell (The Nation) and Bob Herbert (The New York Times)
The Cultural Left Norman Mailer, Salman Rushdie and Toni Morrison, novelists; journalists Frank Rich and Maureen Dowd (The New York Times); playwright Eve Ensler ("The Vagina Monologues"); authors Barbara Ehrenreich ("Nickel and Dimed") and Karen Armstrong ("A History of God")