Disgraced conservative media paragon Dinesh D’Souza stepped in it this week by comparing Ferguson protesters to ISIS, under the bizarre theory that each group is “overreacting” to a perceived grievance.

Let’s leave aside the fact that D’Souza feels that Ferguson protesters are reacting to a “perceived” injustice rather than very real discrimination, or that D’Souza is implicitly suggesting that ISIS is driven by a beef with the Western world rather than its own imperial ambitions.

What’s most astonishing is the way conservative personalities continue to get away with equating hardline conservative theocratic throwback fundamentalists with aggrieved western liberals, without significant pushback. Within the political context of the Middle East, ISIS is a decidedly conservative organization looking to eschew “foreign” western impulses, roll back the clock on progressive social reforms, and aggressively institute a more traditional religious approach to society. Those are bedrock principles of political conservatism wherever it appears in the world.

So why do conservatives get away with this sort of rhetoric? It’s partly a case of media double standards in which extreme conservative rhetoric is expected, but even mild progressive populism receives a raised eyebrow. If you suggest that the President of the United States is actively trying to destroy the nation by leaving it open to attack and that the Democratic Party itself is committing treason, you’re just another Tea Party activist.

If, on the other hand, you suggest that a group of gun-toting, expansionist, anti-feminist, anti-modern fundamentalist theocratic hardliners might have more in common with rural conservative principles than with urban liberal ones, suddenly you’ve gone too far.

Some folks like Markos Moulitsas do dare to openly compare the conservative Islamic fundamentalist movement with the conservative Christian fundamentalist movement, but they’re rare and that rhetoric tends to be eschewed by “serious people.”

Once in a while, it would be nice if more leaders on the left would respond to the continued barbs from the Right. The American party of tolerance and secularism has nothing whatsoever in common with fundamentalist theocrats abroad.

Dinesh D’Souza might want to spend less time judging the people of Ferguson in comparison with ISIS, and a little more time looking in the mirror.

David Atkins

Follow David on Twitter @DavidOAtkins. David Atkins is a writer, activist and research professional living in Santa Barbara. He is a contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal and president of The Pollux Group, a qualitative research firm.