Remember the days when socialists and progressives championed human rights for all oppressed people? Remember when you could count on the Left to oppose totalitarian thugs?
Of course, the only thugs that were beyond the progressive pale were those who received at least tacit support from the United States. Castro has had a free pass since the first day his cigar smoke filled the presidential palace in Havana. Daniel Ortega still remains a darling of the Left.
As long as the Taliban were ignored by the West, progressives and feminists were outraged over the oppression of the people of Afghanistan. But as soon as troops commanded by George W. Bush entered the country, a strange silence descended. The victims of the Afghan Islamists fell down the memory hole.
’Twas ever thus.
Tyrants cease being tyrants when they are opposed by the United States under a Republican Administration. Murderous despots are then numbered among the Victims of Imperialist Aggression.
But, strangely enough, leftists in countries groaning under Islamic oppression don’t feel the same way about the United States. In this article, published last week in New York Post, Amir Taheri describes the new pro-American Popular Front that has emerged among leftist groups in the Middle East and Central Asia. Their views are diametrically opposed to those of their comrades in the West:
- In Iraq, two rival Communist parties, along with Social Democrats and other center-left groups, supported the overthrow of Saddam Hussein and continue to play a significant role in the new pluralist system. They are resolutely opposed to a premature withdrawal of American and allied forces, as demanded by the U.S. Congress.
- In Lebanon, Walid Jumblatt’s Progressive Socialist Party is at the heart of the democratic movement to against the Islamic Republic’s attempt to dominate the country through its Hezbollah surrogates. The Lebanese democratic movement includes other parties of the Left, notably the Socialist Salvation Movement (Inqadh) and the Movement of the Democratic Left.
- In Iran, virtually the whole of the Left rejects President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s anti-Americanism and calls for normalization of ties with the United States. The recently created independent trade-union movement is emerging as a vocal challenger to Khomeinism.
It seems that the principles of the Western Left are — ahem — flexible when it comes to supporting the victims of oppression. It all depends on what your definition of “oppression” is:
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Iraq’s parties of the Left were shocked when the new Socialist government in Spain decided to withdraw from the U.S.-led coalition in 2004. “We had hoped that with a party of the Left in power in Madrid we would get more support against the Islamofascists, not a withdrawal,” says Aziz al-Haj, the veteran Iraqi communist leader.
Tareq al-Hashemi, vice president of Iraq, has also gambled his impeccable progressive record on the success of the pluralist experiment in his country. “Our enemy is al Qaeda, not the United States,” he says.
[Walid] Jumblatt, the Lebanese leader, says he realized that his life-long anti-Americanism had been misplaced when he saw “long lines of people, waiting to vote in Iraq, in the first free election in an Arab country.”
Samir Qassir, a Lebanese center-left leader murdered by the Syrians, often spoke of anti-Americanism as “the last refuge of the scoundrel” in the Middle East. “Politics is always a question of choice,” Qassir said in one of his last articles. “Here in the Middle East, we face a choice between democracy and alliance with the United States on one hand and surrender to religious fanatics and terrorists on the other.”
But not all voices in the Middle East speak out against Western progressives. Our leftists have some support in that part of the world, but — surprise — it comes from the hard-core Islamist groups, the most fervent enemies of human rights on the planet:
Skimming through the Middle Eastern press these days can produce unexpected results. It’s not rare to see a virulently anti-American article by an American or Western European leftist — and, alongside it on the same page, a pro-American article from an Arab, Iranian or Afghan progressive figure.
In Iran, for example, Hussein Shariatmadari — the ultra-Islamist editor of the daily newspaper Kayhan and a theoretician of the extreme right — often admiringly cites such American leftist figures as Noam Chomsky, Michael Moore and Jane Fonda.
Having all but abandoned its traditional opposition to capitalism and the bourgeois democratic system, much of the Western Left is forced to cling to anti-Americanism as its backbone.
In Eastern Europe during the revolutions of 1989, it was the United States that inspired people who longed to emerge from the grip of tyranny. The same is true today of people forced to endure Muslim despotism:
“Anti-Americanism is a luxury we cannot afford in the Middle East,” says Adnan Hussein, a leftist Iraq writer recently picked by the Financial Times as one of the 50 most influential columnists in the world. “Blinded by anti-Americanism, the Left in the West ends up on the same side as religious fascists and despots.”
While Chomsky and Moore see the United States as “an evil power,” many leftists in the Middle East see it as a force for good that ended the tyranny of the Taliban in Afghanistan, dismantled the regime of Saddam Hussein in Iraq and forced the Syrians out of Lebanon after 30 years of occupation.
“In our region, the United States has become a force for the good,” says Jumblatt, who recently met President Bush at the White House for a surprise meeting.
I suppose Mr. Bush has to take his allies where he can find them. Strange bedfellows and all that.
For some reason, Mr. Taheri’s article reminded me of this post by Exile about the bottomless perfidy of the BBC towards its own government, its country, and the West in general:
Private Johnson Baharry is the latest and youngest surviving member of a very exclusive club. He has won the Victoria Cross. The VC is the highest possible award for bravery on the field of combat that is given by the British military. It was instigated by Queen Victoria, hence the name. An independent production company working with the BBC was preparing a documentary to tell Pte. Baharry’s story. Not one, but two, acts of unbelievable bravery whilst under enemy fire in Iraq which finally caused him serious injury, were duly rewarded with the VC. The BBC has decided to drop the project because the story is “too positive”. Pte Baharry would not speak out against the war.
Go over to On the Wing and read the rest.
I’ve often said that the self-loathing of the progressives seems to have entered the realm of mass insanity. Bush Derangement Syndrome has metastasized into a generalized condition, something that might be called West Derangement Syndrome. No thug is too odious to be co-opted in service of opposing Republicans, Conservatives, Tories, Nationalists, or anyone else who is not a Leftist Progressive. Nothing that is good and glorious about our own people is worth extolling until the Socialists have regained power — and maybe not even then.
The Left has lain down with dogs, and now the fleas are everywhere.
Hat tip: JM, via email.