Santayana defined fanaticism as redoubling your effort while losing sight of your goal. America’s recent discussions about the war on terror would give him few grounds to change his view. Conservatives complacent about the response to domestic terrorism ought to keep in mind what the Obama administration has to say about the subject. Two years ago the Department of Homeland Security identified a principal threat as “rightwing extremism,” epitomized by such dangerous elements as returning veterans, abortion opponents, and anyone “rejecting federal authority in favor of state or local authority.” That would include people like James Madison, writes A. Barton Hinkle. Conservatives also ought to short-circuit the circular reasoning about accused terrorists that often dominates discourse on the right. That reasoning goes like this: X says he is not a terrorist and thinks he should be able to prove it in a civilian court. But he should not enjoy that luxury, because terrorists do not deserve civilian trials—and X is a terrorist.
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