WHY DO THEY HATE US?
“There are two schools of thought about the famous question: Why
do they hate us? One school of thought says: ‘They hate us—what’s
wrong with us?’ The second school say’s, ‘They hate us—what’s
wrong with them?’”1
—Fouad Ajami, Johns Hopkins University
THE KEY TO THE MOST BURNING QUESTION OF OUR TIME—WHY DO they hate us?—may have been unlocked more than eighty years ago by a journalist known for Olympian detachment.
Walter Lippmann was one of the most influential journalists in America, from the time he wrote his first book in 1913, just five years after graduating from Harvard, until he published his last newspaper column in 1971, just three years before his death. The son of secondgeneration German-Jewish parents, Lippmann flirted with socialism, cofounded The New Republic magazine, and was an adviser to President Woodrow Wilson, writing eight of the “fourteen principles” the president took to the Paris Peace Conference ending the First World War—all before he turned thirty. By 1935, James Thurber was confident enough in Lippmann’s celebrity to make him the punch line of a New Yorker cartoon: A wife looks up from her newspaper and tells her husband, “Walter Lippmann scares me this morning.”2
By modern standards, Lippmann was not a media bomb thrower. His stock in trade was not facile solutions, but deep ruminating analysis. His copy was sonorous and filled with phrases one might expect to hear echoing off marble walls. He was a rare commodity in journal-