THE WAR ON TERROR/ISLAM/RADICAL ISLAM/BROWN PEOPLE. Last night, Steve Clemons hosted an evening with George Soros. Held at The Metropolitan Club -- which initially turned me away for lacking a tie, and only admitting me once I'd radically enhanced my elegance with the finest in $4 neckwear sold by the umbrella stand at 17th Street and I -- the evening was dominated by an argument pitting the dynamic duo of Mort Kondracke and Adrian Wooldridge against Soros on the acceptability of the War on Terror metaphor.
Wooldridge, Kondracke, and the rest of that peculiar breed of conservative who spends their days beating their chests and their nights cowering beneath the bed are, to me, among the most baffling figures in American political life. Their argument last night was that the War on Terror was, if anything, a PC understatement, a way to inoffensively mask the true battle which was against "radical Islam." Why you'd err in that direction, rather than calling it a War on al-Qaeda, escapes me. When someone is killed in a drug crime, the police don't declare war on everyone who seeks to enrich themselves through extralegal means.
Meanwhile, it turns out that the Islamic world is right. In the minds of those behind this campaign, this is indeed a war against Islam. The enemy is religious, his skin is brown, his God is Allah. When Wooldridge and Kondracke complain that liberals don't adequately respect the massive exercise in self-restraint and multiculturalism exhibited in the moniker, they lay bare that they're seeking an entirely different fight. Most liberals I know think we're literally at war with al-Qaeda, its operational affiliates, and its imitators, and are bogged down in a useless fight against Iraq. Elements of the right, it seems, are engaged in a clash of civilizations. A crusade by any other name...