- The Washington Times - Friday, March 15, 2002

It's been a tough six months for knee-jerk anti-Americanism, be it the European elite, Arab street or left-wing academic petite variety.
The pit that was the World Trade Center and 3,000 murders perpetrated by suicidal zealots are hard, fast facts.
While denial of facts has never been a problem for the "blame America" crowd (heck, some arch-left cadres still insist Alger Hiss wasn't a Soviet spy), the missing piece of the Manhattan skyline is simply too explicit. There is no escape from the emptiness, that space in the air.
Despite the tragic facts, since late September, ingrained "blame America" critics have carped about the need to "understand the anger" that led Osama bin Laden's clique to commit mass murder. The psycho-babblers tried to justify the atrocity as kind of Third World Freudian therapy. A few of the less-medicated carpers test-marketed "alternative scenarios" in desperate attempts to cast the attacks in what for them were "better" terms their most noxious conspiracy theory being that September 11 was the work of Israel's Mossad.
One of the more absurd anti-American agitprop games could be called "the axis of equivalency." It's an old scam. The Cold War version of "equivalency" had the United States being "morally equivalent" to the U.S.S.R. Why, both superpowers had nukes. The "axis of equivalency" proponents, when confronted by the iron evil and systemic failure of communism, were always eager to label the United States as "fascist."
What bunk. Mikhail Gorbachev, speaking at Columbia University March 11, offered the candid statement that communism was "pure propaganda," an "unreal system" that operated on lies.
One of the great beau gestes of the "moral equivalents" was the so-called 1983 Euro-missile crisis. Unilateral disarmers, "neutrals" and Soviet sympathizers in the West tried to stop deployment of U.S. intermediate range missiles to Europe. The deployment was NATO's political and military response (set in motion in 1978) to the presence of some 200 Soviet SS-20 multi-nuclear warhead missiles.
But oh, the gnashing from the "blame America" cohort. President Ronald Reagan was accused of desiring nuclear war. In "blame America" minds, the West's response to Soviet provocation and escalation created the war risk not the Soviet strategy.
That 1983 "missile crisis" was one of the Cold War's last frosty confrontations. Two years later, Russia returned to the negotiating table, with perestroika and other changes afoot. Mr. Reagan's spine (checkmating a Soviet attempt at military blackmail) and clarity of purpose had the strategic effect of denying Soviet hard-liners foreign policy triumph. With the Soviet domestic front in shambles, reformers like Mr. Gorbachev got a crack at power.
But that agitprop architecture of "it's America's fault" and "moral equivalency" between the United States and the various thug dictatorships on this planet didn't fade with the Cold War's demise. Remember the tirades in fall 1990 about the United States "arming Saddam"? Actually, Russia, France, South Africa, Brazil (yes, light armored vehicles) and a host of other nations armed Iraq during the Iran-Iraq War, but after the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, the "antiwar" rhetoricians sought to make Washington a co-conspirator in Saddam's assault. For these simps, the U.S. "presence" in East Asia is the reason North Korea pursues nuclear weapons.
September 11 leaves the "moral equivalency" muddlers exposed as sophists and charlatans. The World Trade Center victims bear no blame for bin Laden's vicious brutality. One of bin Laden's biggest gripes was the end of the Muslim caliphate. Call Kemal Ataturk to task for that, Osama, not the Pentagon. Nor is the United States responsible for the systemic social failures of struggling Middle Eastern regimes. The five or six centuries of Islamic decline that torture bin Laden weren't plotted by Washington policy wonks.
President George W. Bush's March 11 speech, delivered at Ground Zero, was bracing: "We face an enemy of ruthless ambition, unconstrained by law or morality. The terrorists despise other religions and have defiled their own. They are determined to expand the scale and scope of their murder. The terror that targeted New York and Washington could strike any center of civilization. Against such an enemy there is no immunity, and there can be no neutrality."
I know, nattering anti-Americanism won't disappear, there are too many academic and political careers erected on it. September 11, however, clarified the choice the stark choice between civilized behavior, as exemplified by America, and nihilistic barbarism.

Austin Bay is a nationally syndicated columnist.

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