Picking up the theme of the last post, author Nick Cohen today chronicles the Britain’s left’s incongruous support for radical Islamists. To join in common cause against America and its remaining allies, socialists and progressives must abandon virtually everything else they purport to believe and have fought for their whole lives:
As al Qaeda, the Baathists and Shiite Islamists slaughter thousands, there is virtually no sense that their successes are our defeats. Iraqi socialists and trade unionists I know are close to despair. They turn for support to Europe, the home of liberalism, feminism and socialism, and find that rich democrats, liberals and feminists won’t help them or even acknowledge their existence.
Why is this happening? Cohen cites three causes. The obvious one is George W. Bush, whose policies and persona, and especially his flubbing of the Iraq war, have made him a universally derided figure throughout Europe, a disdain that covers almost the entire political spectrum. As in the US, the real stakes in the Iraq war — indeed the real events taking place — are completely obscured by the rage it has engendered.
(The milder American form of this phenomenon is playing out now in the House of Representatives, but seems to be ebbing ever since Rep. Murtha made the curious mistake of bragging in public about what was suppoed to be a “stealth” strategy before he’d had the chance to implement it. That the strategy relied on secret manufacture of a fait accompli is a tacit signal that the U.S. anti-war movement lacks confidence in its political support, the movement’s arrogant rhetoric notwithstanding.)
Cohen also cites another fairly obvious factor: The corruption of the left by multiculturalism, which saps the movement’s formerly vigorous moral clarity. Nowadays, the left can only attack racism, sexism, homophobia or any other retrograde social ill within one’s own country and culture. It is insensitive and “culturally imperialist” to do so when these things are practiced by Muslim radicals with their heads in the 12th century and rocket-launchers on their shoulders.
Until very recently our Labour government was allowing its dealings with Britain’s Muslim minority to be controlled by an unelected group, the Muslim Council of Britain, which stood for everything social democrats were against. In their desperate attempts to ingratiate themselves, ministers gave its leader a knighthood–even though he had said that “death was too good” for Salman Rushdie, who happens to be a British citizen as well as a great novelist.
The third factor Cohen cites is the one I find most chilling — and the one I suspect the left will resent him the most for bringing up: Fear.
Beyond the contortions and betrayals of liberal and leftish thinking lies a simple emotion that I don’t believe Americans take account of: an insidious fear that has produced the ideal conditions for appeasement. Radical Islam does worry Europeans but we are trying to prevent an explosion by going along with Islamist victimhood. We blame ourselves for the Islamist rage, in the hope that our admission of guilt will pacify our enemies. We are scared, but not scared enough to take a stand.
How sad. Perhaps leftism as we knew it is really over.
We underestimate how much influence socialism and left politics has had over the America we now see around us. Conservatives in our country want to drag us back to the world of the Founding Fathers, but we’ll never go there. We believe in a vision of a just society with a deep tolerance for diversity because over the past 100 years or so the left has persuaded us to adopt it and it has been woven into the fabric of American life. Most Americans read the Constitution, the Bill of Rights and the Declaration of Independence through a filter of left-inspired social justice principles — mostly for the better.
We also forget that the dirty word “appeasement” — its negative connotations associated with comforting delusions that some had about Adolf Hitler in the 1930s — was a policy of conservatives largely opposed by liberals and the left. Something has changed at a very deep level if the left is now willing to appease a movement that is objectively just as intolerant and deadly as were Naziism and fascism — and maybe moreso.
Socialism was once “the wave of the future.” The wave has passed, but has left behind a corps of activists — innately adversarial people — who have been so confused for so long that they now will march for those who want to destroy everything their forerunners built. They retain a lot of political influence, especially in Europe. What do we do about them?