Conservative books are not a rare commodity in an election season, but most such books tackle a single subject or area. Some can be very good but have a narrow focus that they follow through along its path. That is not the case with High Noon for America: The Coming Showdown from Jamie Glazov which brings together some of the symposia that he has overseen through the years into a collection that deals with many of the larger issues that confront our civilization.
Here deep thinkers like Richard Pipes, Robert Spencer, Michael Ledeen, Vladimir Bukowsky, Tawfik Hamid, Nonie Darwish and Nancy Kobrin discuss some of the really big ideas, many of which are too big for even a single book, and yet manage to fit neatly and compactly into this small volume.
The trick is the mechanism of the symposium which brings together different views from very different thinkers into a format which allows for the clash of ideas and the synthesis of conclusions. Rather than advocating a single thesis, High Noon for America just as often offers a variety of perspectives; angles of light out of a window overlooking the edge of time.
The contributors include historians and dissidents, activists and architects of foreign policy, bridging the gap between the grass roots and the ivory tower for lively and stimulating discussions on everything from Communism and Islamism to radical politics and the future of the United States. These are weighty issues and they come with weighty perspectives. In assembling this volume, Glazov did not simply zero in on the cutting edge issues, as it would have been very easy to do, but has assembled symposia with an eye to the widest perspective, rather than the most immediate trending topic.
In High Noon for America the sun is clearly setting and yet the slowness of its descent allows the reader to join the assembled personalities in an upholstered chair to ponder its bloody rays and the darkness that may follow in its wake. Casting a look back at the past, some of the men who helped define the 20th Century, including Natan Sharansky and Richard Pipes, sift through the history that brought us here, while the visionaries of the future, including Robert Spencer and Michael Ledeen, confront the perilous future with equal boldness and courage. And we, who dangle on the strings of the present moment between the past and the future, can only watch and learn.
We can only admire the foresight of Robert Spencer when, in a symposium taking place during the Libyan War, he says, “Obama has affirmed his support for ‘the universal rights of the Libyan people,’ including ‘the rights of peaceful assembly, free speech, and the ability of the Libyan people to determine their own destiny,’ but he has never specified who in Libya is working to uphold and defend those rights.” This would indeed prove to be the sticking point of this humanitarian intervention, as it has of so many other humanitarian interventions in the past.
Or how, when Kenneth Levin in a symposium on Geert Wilders discusses the Oslo Syndrome and mentions the process by which populations embrace “the indictments of their enemies, however bigoted or absurd or murderous those indictments” and “delude themselves that by doing so, and promoting concomitant self-reform and concessions, their enemies will be appeased and grant them peace”, so that a connection is formed between two wars on two battlefields of the soul against the same enemy.
There are moments that penetrate to the core of our social malaise, as when Dr. Hollander states, “The 60s left behind a huge subculture of mutually supportive people. Rather than interested in political soul searching, they have been determined to salvage or eulogize their youthful idealism.”
And there are moments that penetrate the mind of the enemy, as when Dr. Nancy Kobrin observes that, “Having grown up under a death threat, Albahri merely turns the tables to decree a death threat. She has identified with her aggressors by becoming one. She is a willing executioner in this tsunami of genocidal hatred,” and through her powerful words we can see the shape of the mind of the enemy in the war for tomorrow.
There are few easy answers to be found in High Noon for America, and the answers that can be found there require more of us than simple solutions would. There are barbed debates here and quiet discussions, but even when they end, they remain unfinished, acknowledging that the issues they delve into are too big for answers, only for the observations that we read and share in.
We may have defeated the Soviet Union, but even that victory has its ambiguities in the pages of “High Noon for America” and the battles of tomorrow that shift from the KGB agent to the Jihadist operative, from the fellow traveler and the useful idiot to the Professor of Islamic Studies and the campus activist, are the portents of an even more ambiguous and difficult future. And yet in these symposia that Jamie Glazov has moderated and now curated, the battle of ideas is a vivid reminder that the mind may be the ultimate weapon in any war.
Some of the participants of Glazov’s symposia are no longer with us, but their ideas and words still live on in the pages of High Noon for America, warning, cautioning and enlightening us on the road ahead and the road left behind in this moment when the sun hangs in the sky and the battle waits to be fought.
War has always been a part of human history and the organizing of conflicts by ideology has elevated war from a battlefield of blood and metal, to a debate over the merits of ideas and the place of man in the universe. It is this war that High Noon for America tackles, looking back to the past and forward to the future, lingering over the people and personalities whose ideas influenced our history and inspiring us to assemble our own ideas for the battles ahead.
Daniel Greenfield, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, is a New York writer focusing on radical Islam. He is completing a book on the international challenges America faces in the 21st century.