Bawer reminds his readers that it was Susan Sontag, the repellent pseudo-intellectual doyenne of all-things-Left, who made it possible for Leftists to admit that Communism might just be a tad incompatible with liberty. Bawer quotes my late colleague Hilton Kramer on this metanoia:
As a result of “the collapse of the intellectual Left in France,” he wrote, anti-Communism, which had long been out of fashion among “those American intellectuals who habitually take their political cues from Paris,” was now, suddenly, chic. Still, it was crucial for the likes of Sontag to communicate to their confrères that their anti-Communism was “somehow different, more cosmopolitan perhaps, maybe even sexier, and certainly more refined,” than that of the crude mouth-breathers who’d been anti-Communists for decades and whom Sontag & co. would come to deride as (no kidding) “premature anti-Communists.”
“Premature anti-Communists,” eh? What manner of beast is that? It’s someone who speaks the truth before the beautiful people have ears to hear it.
You can, as Bawer mournfully notes, expect a repetition of that dialectic with respect to Islam — always assuming that we have the wit to come to our senses about that toxic ideology before it is too late. “What,” Bawer asks, “is the best we counterjihadists can hope for?”
Could it be this: that the winds of intellectual fashion will shift someday (sooner, one hopes, rather than later) in such a way as to make it attractive for today’s opportunistic left-wing counterparts of Susan Sontag to snatch the banner from our hands and take counterjihadism mainstream — acting all the while, naturally, as if they’d invented it themselves, or rescued it from the philistines? Might such a development, moreover, actually help turn the tide in the struggle against jihadist Islam? If it did, to be sure, those of us who were here first would, unquestionably, be smeared even in the moment of victory (should it ever come) as “premature counterjihadists” — oafs and barbarians who’d held down the fort until the real heroes came along.
Bawer is right that it would be a small price to pay. But, like him, I’m not holding my breath.