Yesterday, Glenn Beck guest and former CIA official Michael Scheuer openly hoped for a terrorist attack on the United States, saying, "The only chance we have as a country right now is for Osama bin Laden to deploy and detonate a major weapon in the United States. ... It's an absurd situation again, only Osama can execute an attack which will force Americans to demand that their government protect them effectively, consistently, and with as much violence as necessary." Beck nodded solemnly.

This is the same Michael Scheuer who, a few months ago, played patriotism police arguing that anyone who didn't support the United States using torture to interrogate terrorist suspects was anti-American ... now he's begging for a terrorist attack on the United States. This is a pretty awesome example of how the right conflates its political interests with the interests of the country as a whole. If there's no terrorist attack, then Americans are safe. But Scheuer can't be right if there's no terrorist attack. And Scheuer being right is actually more important than Americans staying alive.

Torture apologists have tiptoed around the edge of this argument without actually saying so for some time; Leon Panetta walked back his observation about Dick Cheney, that "it’s almost as if he’s wishing that this country would be attacked again, in order to make his point," but as Scheuer and Beck proved yesterday, this is really how some people feel.

This gets to the essential creepiness about Beck's emotional display introducing his whole 9/12 project--the man wasn't weeping because he wished the country was as "unified" as it was after 9/11; he was weeping because the country is no longer in a such a state of petrified fear that it will acquiesce to whatever extreme measures the right deems necessary. Beck wasn't crying for the country; he was crying for himself, crying because people are no longer frightened enough to agree with everything he has to say. Understand, he only wants to hurt you because he loves you.

But understand, this is not unpatriotic. You can wish all manner of horrors on this country, but as long as these horrors might serve a specific political agenda, you're not being unpatriotic. Unpatriotic is a public health-care plan. Unpatriotic is a judge modifying sub-prime mortgage loans to keep a roof over someone's head. Unpatriotic is phosphate-free detergent. Patriotic is wishing for a terrorist attack on the United States.

 Patriotism is dead, long live patriotism.

-- A. Serwer

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