Tuesday, January 11, 2005

A Stir on the British Left

Two opinion pieces from Britain suggests that at least some members of the liberal-left have recognized the intellectual degeneration of their political bedfellows:

Writing in The Observer, Nick Cohen, who stoutly opposed the war in Iraq, wonders why the "anti-war" types who marched in protest to the US invasion have no issue with the appalling tactics of the "Iraqi insurgency," which gleefully and deliberately slaughters dozens of innocent civilians in a bid to stop an election.
The Stop the War Coalition, which organised one million people to march through the streets of London, told the kidnappers and torturers from the Baath Party and al-Qaeda that the anti-war movement 'recognises once more the legitimacy of the stuggle of Iraqis, by whatever means they find necessary.' Its leading figures purport to be on the left, but have cheered on the far-right and betrayed their comrades by denouncing Iraqi trade unionists as 'Quislings' and 'collaborators.' There have been a few honorably protests: Mick Rix, the former leader of the train drivers union, walked out in disgust saying that the anti-war movement was putting the lives of Iraqi trade unionists at risk. (Its denunciations of better and braver men and women than the British pseudo-leftists could ever be were reported in Arab newspapers which circulate in Iraq.)

Riz was joined by Unison and Labor backbenchers, but that's been about it. Not only the Stop the War Coalition but the bulk of liberal-left opinion in this country and on the planet, is at best indifferent to the fight to stop the return of tyranny and at woprse wants to spite the Americans by having the bombers stop elections. If you doubt how widespread this malign impulse has become, ask why the BBC has never covered the story of the totalitarian nature of the leaders of the anti-war movement when it would have had kittens on air if, say, the Countryside Alliance had been a front for the British National Party.
Mr. Cohen makes two excellent points. Regardless of one's view of the US invasion, the so-called insurgency's agenda comprises nothing less than a return of bloody tyranny and the possibility of Taliban-style theocracy for Iraq. If they win, Iraqis will have to endure a nightmare potentially worse than the regime of Saddam Hussein. One can reasonably disagree with the war, but no one can mount a moral defense of the insurgents, given their agenda and the fact that they brazenly target civilians. The only people who support them are radical leftists who have never met a leftist dictatorship they weren't willing to endorse, or who are so consumed by a hatred of the US that they are willing to consign an entire nation to brutality and oppression just to spite America.

Unfortunately, the anti-war coalition - both in Europe and in the US - was largely led by such "radical intellectuals," which explains the proliferation of Socialist Workers Party, Communist Party and even Islamist movement banners evident at many anti-war protests. Note this account in LA WEEKLY, written by David Corn, of an anti-war protest attended by "tens of thousands" at the Vietnam Memorial in Washington DC in October 2002. Mr. Corn worried that the protests organizers were less interested in convincing people that the war in Iraq was a bad idea as they were in denouncing the "United States as a force of unequaled imperialist evil" and who "yearn to smash global capitalism."
This was no accident, for the demonstration was essentially organized by the Workers World Party, a small political sect that years ago split from the Socialist Workers Party to support the Soviet invasion of Hungary in 1956. The party advocates socialist revolution and abolishing private property. It is a fan of Fidel Castro's regime in Cuba, and it hails North Korean dictator Kim Jonh-Il for preserving his country's socialist system, whcih according to the party's newspaper, has kept North Korea from falling under the sway of transnational banks and corporations that dictate to most of the world. The WWP has campaigned against the war crimes trial of former Yugoslave President Slobodan Milosevic. A recent Workers World editorial declared, "Iraq has done nothing wrong."

Officially, the organizer of the Washington demonstration was International ANSWER (Act Now to Stop War & End Racism). But ANSWER is run by WWP activists, to such an extend that it seems fair to dub it a WWP front. Several key ANSWER officials, including spokesperson Brian Becker are WWP members. Many local offices for ANSWER's protest were housed in WWP offices. Earlier this year, when ANSWER conducted a press briefing, at least five of the 13 speakers were WWP activists. They were each identified, though, in other ways, including as members of the International Action Center.
Most of the people who protested the war didn't espouse such ideologies, but they didn't demand that these elements be excised from the anti-war movement, either. In the aforementioned Observer article, Mr. Cohen also rightly notes the silence of the media regarding the foundation of the anti-war movement. Few serious attempts were made by either US or European media to examine the credentials of those involved in the anti-war movement.

Mr. Cohen is no conservative, a point he repeatedly makes clear, but he stands disgusted by the left's abandonment of liberal-enlightenment principles. Last week, he notes:
Hadi Salih, international officer of the Iraqi Federation of Trade Unions, was tied and blindfolded and tortured by Baathist 'insurgents' loyal to Saddam Hussein before being forced to kneel, strangled by electric cord and shot.

I shouldn't be shocked that there hasn't been a squeak of protest from the anti-war movement at the killing of a brave socialist, but I am. Two years ago I believed that after the war people who opposed it for good reasons would vow to pursue Bush and Blair for what they had done to their graves, but the intellectual honesty to accept that Saddam's regime was fascist in theory and in practice and the good nature to offer fraternal support to the Iraqi socialists, democrats and liberals in their deadly struggle.
Instead, the anti-war movement has embraced the psychopathic terrorist "insurgency" which threatens to kill anyone who dares to vote in an internationally-monitored election. Of course, Mr. Cohen shouldn't have been surprised by this at all. The anti-war movement's real agenda could have been easily surmised by simply examining those who formed its base.

Kenan Malik, writing in The Guardian, similarly exposes the fallacy of Islamophobia, a myth created by European politicians and Islamic leaders in Europe to solidify power and stifle dissent. Mr. Malik, who identifies himself as solidly on the liberal-left, and one who vehemently opposes some of the government's anti-terror policies, nonetheless carefully examines the actual data regarding assaults on Muslims in Britain and concludes that complaints of a climate of vicious persecution of Muslims since September 11th simply isn't justified by the evidence. He concludes:
For Muslim leaders, inflating the threat to their communities helps consolidate their power base. For government ministers, making a song and dance about police harassment allows them to appear both tough on terrorism and sensitive to Muslim needs. But it does the rest of us, whether Muslim or non-Muslim, no favours at all. the more the threat of Islamophobia is exaggerated, the more ordinary Muslims believe that they are under constant attack. It helps create a siege mentality, it stokes up anger and resentment, and it makes Muslims more inward looking and more open to religious extremism.

It also creates a climate of censorship in which any criticism of Islam can be dismissed as Islamophobic. The people who suffer most from such censorship are those struggling to defend basic rights within Muslim communities. Marayam Namazie is an Iranian refugee who has long campaigned for women's rights and against Islamic repression. As a result she has been condemned as an Islamophobe, even by anti-racist organisations. "On the one hand," she says, "you are threatened by the political Islamic movement with assassination or imprisonment or flogging. And on the other, you have so-called progressive people who tell you what you say in defense of humanity, in defense of equal rights for all, is racist. I think it's nothing short of an outrage."
Venal and cynical attempts by politicians to increase their power and popularity with a good "song and dance" on any given issue is an old story. But the mastery of Western guilt over past racism by various groups, including radical Islamists is a new and dangerous tactic. It has been successfully used to blunt any criticism of Islamic cultural traditions that conflict with the Enlightenment values of the West - like equal rights, free speech, individual liberty, etc. - by smearing critics as racist. The left's willing participation in this scheme comes as a surprise to some (like Messrs. Cohen and Malik), but it shouldn't. The failure of many leftists to denounce the mass murderous tyranny of the USSR, Castro's Cuba, the Vietcong, and Mao's China should have served as a warning that human rights and Enlightenment values had slid from the left's agenda, replaced by a bitter hatred of Western Civilization and its productive engine, capitalism. With the collapse of socialist economics, that hatred is the only coherent emotion remaining. Hence the embrace of Islamism, Baathism and any bloody insurgency.


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