Now This Log

Thursday, 13 December 2001 : "cohen on walker"

The Conservative Take on John Walker by Richard Cohen [Washington Post]
Amazingly, this young man John Walker, of whom we know so little -- a brief interview with the parents, the remarks of some neighbors, the observation of a mullah -- is on his way to becoming a generational or ideological poster boy.

"I think Walker came out of a self-hating stream of American life," [Hoover Institution scholar Shelby] Steele says. After all ... "cultural liberalism serves up American self-hate to the young as idealism."

But wait. There were 3.629 million births the year John Walker was born and he is the only one, so far as we know, who wound up joining the Taliban. There could be others, I grant you, maybe even two or three, but I am willing to wager that most of the kids born in 1981 (or any year, for that matter) are still in America. In fact, there may be more of them with the U.S. armed forces than with the Taliban. I am way out on a limb on that one, I know.

The political right needs its bogeyman, and even a manufactured one will do. Never mind that his antecedents, such figures as Tokyo Rose, Axis Sally and Ezra Pound, all took the enemy side in World War II without benefit of birth in Marin County or, for that matter, membership in a generation that could be called "Me." Pound, whose treason was beyond doubt, was an Idaho native, born in 1885. He was a great poet, a rotten human being and not -- here I go again, out on another limb -- typical of Idaho.

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