- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 25, 2001

At the height of the revolutionary 1960s on the American campus, Tom Hayden, a leading flamethrower of the era, wrote in the intellectually elite Partisan Review:

"Perhaps the only forms of action appropriate to the angry people are violent. Perhaps a small minority, by setting ablaze New York and Washington, could damage this country forever in the court of world public opinion."

Little did the former husband of Jane Fonda think in 1966 when he published his manifesto that somebody would one day set New York and Washington ablaze and in an hour or so destroy the lives of some 7,000 people. But there was a useful abstraction called "the court of world public opinion," which in order to be influenced demanded destruction of two cities and the concomitant incineration of their populations.

The 1960s and 1970s saw in America primarily, but in other democracies as well, the rise of a cult of revolutionary violence (today we call it by its proper name, terrorism) dubbed at the time as the "Bomber Left." Left liberalism, especially in the universities, defended this violence as a form of idealism among frustrated youths who were the victims of American society. Here are the words of Professor Douglas Dowd of Cornell University in 1970:

"Violence on the left by the people who are trying to change things has to be understood for what it is … They've given up on the idea that a movement can get anyplace without violence."

Professor Richard Poirier, then one of the editors of Partisan Review, explained away this violence with this exculpatory sentence: "Before asking questions about the propriety and programs of young militants who occupy buildings, burn cars and fight the police, let's first ask what kind of world surrounds these acts."

"Violence is necessary," wrote Rap Brown, the black revolutionary, "it's as American as cherry pie." And not to be outdone, Eldridge Cleaver wrote at the time that "there are … advantages to political assassination… . It would give me great satisfaction if Richard Nixon should be killed."

The great apologist at the time for this campus terrorism was the late Professor Herbert Marcuse who lectured thus: "The violence of revolutionary terror, for example, is very different from that of the White terror, because revolutionary terror as terror implies its own abolition in the process of creating a free society." And supposing somebody like Lenin or Stalin doesn't accept the implication? Tough. As the New Statesman wrote in defense of Stalin's bloody purges: "A social revolution is accompanied both by violence and by idealism."

And now we come to Susan Sontag, who as a guest of the North Vietnamese government at the height of the Vietnam War, proclaimed that the United States was a "criminal, sinister country." Today she writes in the current New Yorker about the destruction of the World Trade Center and its inhabitants: "Where is the acknowledgment that this was not a 'cowardly' attack on 'civilization' or 'liberty' or 'humanity' or 'the free world' but an attack on the world's self-proclaimed superpower, undertaken as a consequence of specific American alliances and actions?" (In 1986, the New Yorker wrote: "Having, as we believe, turned Europe into a danger zone, we now shun the place, leaving the Europeans to pay whatever price is paid." For the New Yorker, it is America which has "turned Europe into a danger zone," not the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) or Moammar Gadhafi's gunmen with their Rome and Vienna airport massacres, the Pan Am flight over Scotland, the bombing of a West Berlin discotheque, or the murder on the Achille Lauro.

It was this same Susan Sontag who wrote in the venerable Partisan Review in 1967: "The white race is the cancer of human history; it is the white race and it alone, its ideologies and inventions which eradicates autonomous civilizations wherever it spreads, which has upset the ecological balance of the planet, which now threatens the very existence of life itself."

I would assume that when she so excoriates the "white race" she excludes Arabs since she absolves the Sept. 11 terrorists of any blame whatsoever. She would certainly agree with Joel Rogers in the current Nation magazine when he says "our own government, through much of the past 50 years, has been the world's leading 'rogue state.' " Not Syria, not Iran, not Iraq, not Libya, not North Korea, not Cuba the United States.

Roger Kimball, managing editor of the New Criterion, has dealt harshly and brilliantly with some of these people in a recent book, "The Long March: How the Cultural Revolution of the 1960s Changed America." And it was the bemused French critic, Jean-Francois Revel, who summed it all up with the question of the century:

"Whence comes this fierce hatred of intellectuals for the least barbaric societies of human history and this rage to destroy the only civilizations to date that have emphatically conferred a dominant role on intelligence?"

Arnold Beichman, a Hoover Institution research fellow, is a columnist for The Washington Times. He is the author of "Anti-American Myths: Their Causes and Consequences."

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