FACING UP TO THE REAL NATURE OF THE HARD LEFT
I usually steer clear of writing on purely domestic politics because the issues are always more complex in reality than committed partisans are willing to admit and because the difficulty of having having an intelligent dialogue about hot-button issues. Granted, it is the hyperpolitical blogs that have the big audiences but if I wanted to preach to the choir, I'd get myself a church.
Nevertheless, in the last few days a couple of figures with impeccable credentials as men of the Left awoke to the realization that the broad American Left tolerates and includes people with a very dangerous mindset. Not that this is a revelation to those of us on the Right or the Middle ( or who have been following the history of the past century) but it is a fact about which many liberals, some of whom are intelligent people for whom I have much respect, are in deep denial. To admit that their side openly welcomes -and regularly defends- the sort of unsavory hater or dedicated authoritarian that they regularly condemn on the Religious Right is viewed as an unacceptable concession to conservatives -instead of being a simple concession to the reality of human nature. I guess nobody reads Eric Hoffer these days.
Here are the pieces in question:
"Liberal McCarthyism Bigotry and hate aren't just for right-wingers anymore
." by Lanny Davis
in the Wall Street Journal
."Has the Left Gone Mad?"
by Dr. Mark A. LeVine
Lanny Davis is a well known public figure, attorney, Democratic activist and former official in the Clinton administration who was, for a time, the chief attack dog against the " Vast Right-wing conspiracy". Dr. LeVine is less well-known, being a MENA scholar of the kind of far Left, anti-Israeli, academic politics that, say, David Horowitz
, loves to attack. These are not moderate Democrats or centrists, Davis and LeVine are both anti-war progressives.
Yet they have, for various reasons, decided to break the unspoken rule against calling attention to the existence of the Marxoid hardliners, the wingnuts and the radical haters who pollute the otherwise liberal and democratic politics of their Party. Here are snippets of what they had to say:
First, Lanny Davis:"I came to believe that we liberals couldn't possibly be so intolerant and hateful, because our ideology was famous for ACLU-type commitments to free speech, dissent and, especially, tolerance for those who differed with us. And in recent years--with the deadly combination of sanctimony and vitriol displayed by the likes of Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter and Michael Savage--I held on to the view that the left was inherently more tolerant and less hateful than the right.
Now, in the closing days of the Lieberman primary campaign, I have reluctantly concluded that I was wrong. The far right does not have a monopoly on bigotry and hatred and sanctimony. Here are just a few examples (there are many, many more anyone with a search engine can find) of the type of thing the liberal blog sites have been posting about Joe Lieberman: • "Ned Lamont and his supporters need to [g]et real busy. Ned needs to beat Lieberman to a pulp in the debate and define what it means to be an AMerican who is NOT beholden to the Israeli Lobby" (by "rim," posted on Huffington Post, July 6, 2006).
• "Joe's on the Senate floor now and he's growing a beard. He has about a weeks growth on his face. . . . I hope he dyes his beard Blood red. It would be so appropriate" (by "ctkeith," posted on Daily Kos, July 11 and 12, 2005).
• On "Lieberman vs. Murtha": "as everybody knows, jews ONLY care about the welfare of other jews; thanks ever so much for reminding everyone of this most salient fact, so that we might better ignore all that jewish propaganda [by Lieberman] about participating in the civil rights movement of the 60s and so on" (by "tomjones," posted on Daily Kos, Dec. 7, 2005)."
was at hand to provide examples of rancid anti-semitism for the Davis op-ed.
Now for Mark LeVine:"Of course, I am fairly certain that this isn't the kind of support that was intended. And like myself, most progressives I know have been using “all the means at our disposal” (as the letter signers pledge to do) to help spread the word about this utterly disastrous, and yes, criminal, war. But the ill-chosen (one can hope) words by my illustrious colleagues reflects a very disturbing trend within the Left that has emerged the last few years, and which has come to a head with the latest war: Many leaders of the movement are moving away from the commitment to non-violence that defined the struggle against the Vietnam War and the vast majority of protests against corporate globalization and the invasion of Iraq, and towards embracing violent resistance (think the Red Brigade, Bader Meinhof Gang or the Weather Underground) as a viable, and even the best way to check the capitalist war machine.
I saw the first glimmers of the change right after the US invasion, when senior members of the biggest anti-war coalition in the US told me that “it's all America now” and that the movement had to shift from anti-war to anti-imperialism as its focus. It's hard to endorse violence when you're anti-war, but if you're anti-imperialist there's a long history of violent struggles to “inspire” you (although supporters of this path seem to forget the most successful anti-imperialist struggles, such as Gandhi's in India and Mandela's in South Africa, were almost entirely non-violent, while others, like Algeria or Vietnam, produced corrupt and violent regimes in their wakes).
The American Left has, since the 1920's contained its share of Stalinists, Trotskyites, Anarchists and various other totalitarian loons inclined to worship violent revolution abroad and despise American liberties at home. For a time, these fellow-travellers had access to the highest reaches of the Democratic Party but after the embarrassment of the exposure of Alger Hiss as a Communist spy, the Democratic Party did a thorough housecleaning. I'm not talking about Joe McCarthy's ranting idiocy but of Arthur Schlessinger's ADA combatting anti-democratic ideologues and the AFL-CIO leadership battling to remove CPUSA networks from key union locals. The revolutionaries were shown the door in the forties and fifties.
The emergence of the New Left in the 1960's relegitimized wingnut partcipation in the Democratic Party and its associated groups. Most former Vietnam era activists have mellowed. A few have not and the internet has allowed them to recruit and energize like-minded followers. They are a nasty bunch with an anti-American ideology and they are determined to play a pivotal role in the future of the Democratic Party. It took some bravery on the part of Davis and LeVine to criticize these people - fanatics brook no disagreement and will view the criticism they levelled as "treason" to " the movement". These articles will raise hackles in a way a piece from a conservative or Republican figure would not.
Davis and LeVine are the canaries in the mineshaft, but I'm not sure if anyone is listening.ADDENDUM:
On a directly related line of thought ( "Great minds...") , my friend Bruce Kesler
contemplates "The Not-Great Divide
" at Democracy ProjectADDENDUM II:Marc
at American Future
links and expands on the post with " Hezbollah's fellow Travellers
Must be Day of the Blogfriend ! LOL !