Technology with attitude

America's 'Token Muslim?'

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Well, not really, if you ask me. He’s quite secular. But Village Voice gets all gushy over Fareed Zakaria, “Neoconservative policy wonk becomes darling of the ultra-liberal Daily Show.”

He calls himself a centrist.

Zakaria is good at straddling worlds. Asked how a neocon who edited the journal Foreign Affairs ended up as a favorite of the Daily Show crowd, he protests that he is no longer a diehard Reaganite but a firm centrist. “And anyway, in America the entire spectrum has shifted to the right. I still like the same kinds of people I always didâ€â€?conservative Democrats, moderate Republicans, call them what you will. But we’re an increasingly embattled phenomenon in a country with a president talking about intelligent design.” Jon Stewart’s viewers probably don’t have an inkling of Zakaria’s political background, since they rarely chat about economic or domestic affairs. Mostly Zakaria is applauded for his willingness to call out our government’s missteps in Iraq. (He initially supported the invasion but within a few weeks began lambasting the Bush administration in Newsweek pieces with titles like “The Arrogant Empire.”) “I feel that’s part of my job,” he says, slightly defensively, “which is not to pick sides but to explain what I think is happening on the ground. I can’t say, ‘This is my team and I’m going to root for them no matter what they do.’ ”

Yes, the nation as a whole has drifted right. So his old center-right is now more like center-center. Maybe we’re working on a continental drift metaphor here. As the country drifts right, the “anchored” left stays put, and cracks off from the center left. A gap opens and the disconnected fringe becomes an island adrift, a Madagascar, where natural traits exaggerate and exotic species evolve.

Just a thought.