Bestselling author William J. Bennett says he was inspired by displays of patriotism after the September 11 terrorist attacks, but he was also struck by how "some were quick to find us
to blame." He worries that this "countermovement of America-bashing" will make the United States lose its resolve: "What I fear is the erosion of moral clarity, and the spread of indifference and confusion, as a thousand voices discourse with energy and zeal on the questionable nature, if not the outright illegitimacy, of our methods or our cause." Bennett cites dozens of examples of professors who decry U.S. foreign policy and pundits who object to so much flag flying. While recognizing that these are minority views, he concludes that Osama bin Laden caught Americans with their defenses down--not just physical and military defenses, but also moral and intellectual ones. "Many of us have forgotten what we once knew about our freedoms and our decencies, and we have forgotten why, time and time again, we have had to rally ourselves to the point of ultimate sacrifice to defend them," writes Bennett, who also appraises Islam and defends Israel on these pages. Why We Fight
is short and quickly read--and worthwhile for anybody who wants to be reminded of first principles during the war on terrorism. --John Miller
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From Publishers Weekly
National morals arbiter Bennett takes America's reaction to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and uses it as a platform to discuss a half dozen of the major social and political issues including the role of pacifism, patriotism, "Islamophobia" and support for Israel. His goal is to bolster support for the Bush administration's War on Terror, and in particular, convince readers that the U.S. is, quite literally, a "country worth fighting for." Bennett's point of view is anchored in the "righteous anger" he feels Americans are justified in feeling against al-Qaeda. To rally the cause, he invokes all the righteous institutions of America the church, the state, the family except our well-regarded ability to tolerate different points of view. Unfortunately, his own anger is directed internally, at the members of the so-called cultural elite mostly journalists and educators who would call into question America's clear mandate to retaliate. This elite, he says, is trained on relativistic, postmodernist theory rather than on what he calls common sense. In so doing, he extrapolates unreasonably from the behavior of a small group of individuals, such as a few university studentss quoted in the press, and applies its thinking to larger class of college students. Further, Bennett excels at simplifying issues to the point where black and white appear out of gray. When he concludes that "why we fight" is to prevent al-Qaeda from acquiring chemical and biological weapons and using them for mass destruction, it is easy to agree with him. But when he condemns self-criticism as a national pathology, his words lose their value. For what is this book, if not a product of self-criticism? Bennett rarely ventures beyond his personal convictions. Stirring it may be, but edifying regarding the complexities of America's present situation it is not.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
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