Today’s America-hating leftists are the foot soldiers of the counterculture revolution that came of age during the 1960s and Vietnam—the war liberals love to hate. Perhaps my friend David Horowitz has the clearest insight into the Left, having been the child of American Communists, a 1960s counterculture activist, and a key player in the antiwar movement before realizing its destructive pathologies and delusions. “Hatred of self, and by extension one’s country, is the root of the radical cause,” Horowitz has concluded. “My experience has convinced me that historical ignorance and moral blindness are endemic to the American left [and] necessary conditions of its existence. It does not value the bounty it actually has in this country.”
During the 1960s, shortly after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, liberals abandoned the established successes of progressivism under FDR, Truman, and JFK for the increasingly polarized and radical politics of the New Left. When these liberals began to condemn the United States for its “imperialism,” they came to revile a war they themselves had initiated. And, by association, they reviled those tasked with fighting it. Who else but dupes would fight for such an immoral country? And why would such dupes deserve glory? Todd Gitlin, along with Horowitz a member of the New Left and the antiwar effort, articulated this view when he acknowledged, “If you grew up in the 60s, the military is to some degree tainted. I won’t say forever tainted. But it is tainted by its implication in the Vietnam War.”
The U.S. military thus became the object of the Left’s hatred of America and a metaphor for all they saw as wrong. The military establishment represented ideals and policies anathema to the New Left: martial values, discipline, uniformity, physical courage, and moral strength derived from our Judeo-Christian heritage.
The New Left had grown out of the radical student movement led by Tom Hayden and his comrades in the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), whose ideological manifesto, 1962’ s Port Huron Statement, codified their belief that America was responsible for global conflict and the social ills of racism, materialism, militarism, poverty, and exploitation. By 1968, Hayden and the New Left were staging riots outside the Democratic National Convention in Chicago in order to damage the candidacy of anti-Communist Hubert Humphrey. The tactic worked, and by 1972 the New Left activists had burrowed into the Democratic Party. The leftists pushed pacifist George McGovern to the Democratic presidential nomination and used antiwar fervor to elect seventy-six new Democrats to the House of Representatives and eight to the Senate. Included among the new congressmen were radicals Ron Dellums, Bella Abzug, Elizabeth Holtzman, Robert Drinan, David Bonior, Pat Schroeder, and former Black Panther Bobby Rush. Hayden himself, who had spent the previous decade preaching revolution, was elected to office in California that year.
The antiwar New Leftists had taken command, and they have not relinquished it. They didn’t seem to mind that their policies resulted in Communist takeovers and the unprecedented slaughter of 2.5 million Vietnamese and Cambodian peasants. The Democratic Party—and the country as a whole—has been coping with the legacy of 1972 ever since. Many of today’s anti–War on Terror politicians are veterans of the McGovern campaign, including Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton, John Kerry, and Elizabeth Warren. Many of the Democrats’ key policy architects also come out of the anti–Vietnam War Left. Among them are Anthony Lake and Sandy Berger, both of whom served as national security adviser under President Bill Clinton, and Harold Ickes, Clinton’s White House deputy chief of staff, money man, and dirty trickster. (In the 1970s Ickes worked with a young Bill Clinton to promote Operation Pursestrings, which aimed to eliminate all U..S. funding to South Vietnam following the negotiated peace settlement.)
Today, both Ickes and Berger remain key advisers to failed presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. Now, she tours telling anybody who will listen “what happened.” The New Left activists matured into positions of power outside of politics as well. They took to university faculties, teachers’ organizations, the national press, Hollywood, religious institutions, and organized labor. They are our “enlightened elites”—college presidents, professors, newspaper editors, television anchors, columnists, politicians, playwrights, movie stars, recording artists, and leaders of organizations that all have their ideological birth in the 1960s. Liberals won the Vietnam War because America lost. They are trying to pull off the same “victory” today in Iraq, in Afghanistan, and wherever else the United States must fight Islamofascism. In fact, they’re trying to pull off victory against their own nation.