Why do you write such controversial books?
I was introduced to political controversy in my college years when I was an editor of the infamous Dartmouth Review, a kind of thorn in the side of the college administration.
|Growing Up with Two Cultures|
On the other hand, I have developed a certain kind of fearlessness in taking on controversial issues, and my editor, Adam Bellow, has been really good in encouraging me to sort of follow an argument where it leads. And so, for example if I say that the radical Muslims are not against us because we support the Palestinians, but because they see us as a pagan, immoral society, my editor then pushes me. Well, are they right to say that? And if there's an element of truth in what they're saying, then how can we discourage the moderate or traditional Muslims from joining them? Or, how do we best answer those arguments? Or, if what they're saying is partly right about America, which America are they describing? Is it red America, or is it blue America?
So, in pushing the argument in this way, it sometimes leads into controversial territory, and apparently it's a place I don't hesitate to tread.
The title of your book, "The Enemy at Home: The Cultural Left and Its Responsibility for 9/11," immediately brings to mind Jerry Falwell and his appearance on Pat Robertson's show a day or two after 9/11 in which he said a similar thing. Are you endorsing what Jerry Falwell said back then?
Not at all, and here's why.
Falwell was making a different kind of argument, which to my mind is a sort of theological argument. He was saying, essentially, that the left has made America into a morally corrupt place. That we are, to use another famous phrase, “slouching towards Gomorrah.” And God became angry with us, and basically sent us 9/11 to punish us for our sins.
Now, my book eliminates this theological reasoning completely. I'm asking a clinical question. Why did the people who did this do it? It has nothing to do with God's intentions in the matter. I'm not appealing to any divine justice. I'm simply saying since we are now five years away from 9/11, and 9/11 was followed by a kind of understandable moment of national unity, in which people said, "We don't want to understand any of this. We just basically want to strike back at the guys who did it."