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Berkowitz: Need for Rediscovery of Common Ground

While many prominent conservatives have been quick to disagree with Dinesh D'Souza's "The Enemy at Home," Alan Wolfe's scathing New York Times review of D'Souza's book and his call for excommunication of the conservative intellectual has met with little reaction from the left, says Professor Peter Berkowitz, writing for The Weekly Standard.

"Wolfe, it would seem, believes that one set of standards applies to conservative intellectuals, and another to intellectuals, like himself, who are on the left," writes Berkowitz, arguing that political disagreements in America are "not over rival conceptions of the political good but rather over competing ideas of what policies best serve individual freedom and equality under law."

Excommunication for Thee...; Alan Wolfe's self-incriminating attack on Dinesh D'Souza, The Weekly Standard, February 26, 2007. By Peter Berkowitz.

Excerpt:
"To claim that by promoting, among other things, abortion, gay marriage, pornography, and atheism, the cultural left presents a threat to America as grave as that posed by radical Islam is seriously wrong and foolishly divisive. To make such an argument while America is at war with a fanatical adversary who regards all Americans as combatants and who seeks not concessions or reforms but America's annihilation is to blur critical issues when the rediscovery of our common ground is what is urgently called for.

"So Wolfe is on solid ground with his hard-hitting criticism of The Enemy at Home and certainly has plenty of company on the right. Prominent and widely read conservative websites including HughHewitt, Power Line, FrontPageMagazine, and National Review Online have found severe flaws in the book, as has D'Souza's and my Hoover colleague, military historian Victor Davis Hanson, at Townhall.com and Real Clear Politics.

"Wolfe's attack, though, is distinguished by his demand that decent and honorable conservatives 'distance themselves, quickly and cleanly' from D'Souza. Apparently, conservatives who fail to promptly and unambiguously pronounce anathema are tainted by and complicit in D'Souza's errors and excesses. This is more than ironic coming from a writer who, like D'Souza, darkly proclaimed that America is menaced by an enemy at home. For Wolfe, as it happens, the enemy within does not arise from the cultural left but rather springs from Republicans and the right. His thesis no more withstands scrutiny than does D'Souza's, but by comparison has received very little."

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