The two competing news stories — Japan’s nuclear reactor and the unstable narrative in the Middle East — provides the best illustration I’ve ever seen of the fears that move Progressives and conservatives.
Progressives fear us: Westerners. They fear our technology and our values. The nuclear reactors, while currently just a dreadful problem, are imminently apocalyptic to them. They have visions of Neville Shute’s On the Beach, which saw a few atomic bombs depopulate the entire world because of drifting radioactive clouds. Unsurprisingly, they’ve even tried to tie the earthquake, a natural and ancient phenomenon tied to moving tectonic plates deep underground, to man-made climate change.
On the other hand, I (and, I believe, conservatives generally) fear them: the Easterners, appearing before us in the form of Jihadist Islam. Even as Mr. Bookworm, the liberal, is mesmerized by Japan, I’m terrified by what’s happening in the Middle East. The most radical Islamic tyrannies are hanging gamely onto power; the slightly more moderate tyrannies have fallen, leaving a vacuum for Islamists to fill; and the people with bombs (nuclear and otherwise), oil, natural gas, and deep hostilities to Israel and America, are lining up aggressively, facing off against each other and, of course, against us.
Perhaps the fact that those zany Islamic Middle Eastern aggressors have us in their cross-hairs explains Obama’s eerie passivity. After all, he, being a good Progressive, fears us more than them. At bottom, “they” are his allies, not “us” at all.