THE FIFTH COLUMN

I hadn’t received Tim Noah’s email yesterday when I wrote “RETRACT WHAT?” below. It got lost in cyberspace. He re-sent me it this morning. I retract nothing, since the point I thought he was trying to make is simply untrue. I have absolutely nothing against the countless patriots in the blue zone, as my tribute to New Yorkers and the rest of the essay shows. I was talking about a few intellectuals and their cohorts who clearly do feel ambivalence about America fighting and winning this war. But these broad categories of “blue” and “red zones” can be misleading and unhelpful. I won’t use this shorthand again. Ditto the shorthand of “fifth column.” I have no reason to believe that even those sharp critics of this war would actually aid and abet the enemy in any more tangible ways than they have done already. And that dissent is part of what we’re fighting for. By fifth column, I meant simply their ambivalence about the outcome of a war on which I believe the future of liberty hangs. Again, I retract nothing. But I am sorry that one sentence was not written more clearly to dispel any and all such doubts about its meaning. Writing 6,000 words under deadline in the heat of war can lead to occasional sentences whose meaning is open to misinterpretation.