Soft Treason

The departure of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad from free soil was no doubt accompanied by sighs of relief or expressions of regret, depending on one’s views about the wisdom of inviting to a university a man who has denied the Holocaust, threatened Israel with extinction, and supplied armaments and insurgents to murder American soldiers in Iraq. One view exudes righteousness about the sanctity of the First Amendment, even for rogue state felons. Another suggests that if Columbia University handed out degrees for aiding and abetting America’s enemies, then many of its leaders would graduate summa cum laude, with high honors in anti-American puerility. Probably to mollify the outraged, Columbia University President Lee Bollinger gave Ahmadinejad a good scolding introduction, which either was sincere or the best imitation of public umbrage since Charlie Chaplin switched to talkies. At least the Iranian dictator’s presence pushed the banning of ROTC on campus into second place as the most anti-American move a university could make.

Of course, the competition in this category is stiff, especially over the course of the past few weeks. Consider MoveOn.org’s trashing of Gen. David Petraeus and ask yourself just how much cleverness it takes to morph his name to “Betray us”? Why, that level of ideological onomatopoeia is enough to put the Stooges and their law firm of Dewey, Cheatum & Howe out of business. One can only imagine what dyslexic chaos would have afflicted MoveOn’s brain cells if the good general’s nickname had been Quinn or Hickory.

But the line for dissing America forms on the far left, and it takes a long hike to find where it ends, if indeed it ends at all. Along the way, one would be passing such luminaries as Cindy Sheehan, Ward Churchill and a huge bloc of America-haters from the University of California at Santa Cruz, recently dubbed by Frontpagemag.org as “the worst school in America” for its level of anti-American vitriol. While on the West Coast, one should by all means stop by and visit former Harvard President Lawrence Summers, whose invitation to address the University of California Board of Regents was retracted after a coven of feminists expressed their outrage that someone who hinted at differences between men and women would disturb their leftist echo-chamber (“stunned and appalled” were the words used). At least none of the aggrieved threatened to faint or throw up, as one sanity- and irony-challenged MIT professor did when Summers first broached the subject at Harvard.

The point about these incidences is how common they have become in recent decades. MoveOn, Summers, legions of hate-America profs—what is one to make of all this? One answer may be suggested by an analogy to Professor Joseph Nye’s concept of “soft power,” which he defines as “the ability to get what you want through attraction rather than coercion or payments. It arises from the attractiveness of a country’s culture, political ideals, and policies.” Soft treason may be defined in analogous terms as expressions of contempt for and hatred of America’s culture, history, political ideals and policies. When national self-loathing is understood as the only acceptable attitude for ordinary citizens as well as American elites, the demise and gradual extinction of the United States is only a matter of time.

This is the truth when there are no consequences for perpetrating acts of soft treason—there is no price to pay, no trade-offs, no penalty a soft traitor has to face as the result of his or her activities. Quite the contrary, soft treason typically exalts those in the eyes of media elites, Hollywood moguls and many professors—all of whom are virtually immune from the effects of public disapproval.

Hard treason—passing of national security secrets to hostile powers—comes with stiff penalties if caught, but what about soft treason? Here are a few suggestions. Making public speeches that call for jihad against America, at taxpayers’ expense no less, should result in immediate dismissal. Declaring your city a “safe haven” for criminals or a nuclear-free zone (surely terrorists will respect that!) should result in the federal government declaring your city to be a “defense-free” zone as well. When bad guys attack, don’t call us. Do you prohibit patriotic acts in your town? Don’t like ROTC, the American military, the American flag? Fine, no federal funds for your city or university; no government subsidies, student loan guarantees, scholarly grants, you name it—none, nada, zero—comprende?

Which brings us back to Columbia University’s terrorist exchange program. If our national leaders were serious about combating soft treason, Ahmadinejad wouldn’t set foot on free soil, let alone visit a major American university. Since he did, however, his American sponsors should be required to return to Iran with him. And stay there.