The Magazine

The Right's New Moral Equivalence

For some conservatives, confidence in America's superiority is flagging

May 8, 2000, Vol. 5, No. 32 • By TOD LINDBERG
Widget tooltip
Single Page Print Larger Text Smaller Text Alerts

This disaffection can run deep: As a result of some combination of former and ongoing perceived depredations, the United States itself has lost its political and moral legitimacy in the eyes of some significant number of right-leaning Americans. This government has no special claim on justice. Indeed, no government has such a claim. It is not such a leap from the view that the United States lacks legitimacy to the view that Cuba is no different in that regard. The right-wing moral equivalence here precisely mirrors the old left-wing view that the United States was no better than the Soviet Union.

Except that the right-wing version has a vision of redemption. It's to be found in the "sovereign" family and God. Hence, perhaps, the special passion of Largentism for the reuniting of father and son in the Elian case. For if a government can contrive to keep Elian apart from Juan Miguel, how safe are the children in their sovereign family redoubts anywhere in the United States?

Steve Largent himself is probably not as radical as the doctrine described here. He has lately lowered his profile on the subject of Elian, and he is, after all, a part of the government. But he has his finger on the pulse of something whose beat is growing stronger.

Tod Lindberg is editor of Policy Review.