The death toll wrought by nonchalant neglect in Europe last August remains considerably higher than the total number of fatalities in Iraq since the beginning of Operation Iraqi Freedom—friendly, enemy and civilian combined.
The American Left never blinked as the real “old Europe” perished in the multitudes. There wasn’t a whisper of criticism of those “more humane” European governments whose apparatchiks refused to interrupt their summer vacations to respond to the mass dying among Europe’s pensioners. Those admirable European health-care systems failed horrendously—yet they remain, of course, the models to which we should aspire (no matter that every European I know prefers private care, if they can afford it).
Had the Bush administration allowed over 25,000 elderly Americans to die while our president cut brush at his ranch, howls of outrage would have shaken the heavens. The Left would have reminded us all of the virtues of Euro-socialism and the evils of a marketplace society.
No matter that, with far higher temperatures routine in the U.S., such a massacre-by-neglect has never happened here and never will. Reality has no weight for the ideologues who cannot live without the conviction that only the United States is ever guilty.
The silence of the Left in the face of uncomfortable truths is a hallowed tradition, of course, dating back to the earliest crimes of the Soviet Union. When the reality confronting the Left contradicts the theory, the theory must be preserved at any cost.
And there’s no sign of improvement, not a glimmer of the least scrap of conscience or integrity on the Left. It’s all about revenge against a democratic system that gives a blue-collar worker a vote equal to that of a university professor’s ballot, about hatred for the free market for providing better lives for the great majority while Marxism drowned in the bile of its victims. There’s no one the new American Left so despises as the working man or woman who continues to believe in the United States.
And it’s about power. Had Bill Clinton invaded Iraq and deposed Saddam, the Left would have cheered their throats raw, praising him as one of history’s greatest liberators. The rhetoric about Iraq isn’t about justice, or the Iraqi people, or even about the horrors of war. And it certainly isn’t about the welfare of our troops (there are few things more disgusting to a soldier than a campus coward speaking on his behalf). The great, unforgivable insult to the Left is that conservatives took the idea of liberation seriously and acted, while the Liberal-Arts faculty merely chattered about it (one thinks of the scene in that greatest of American films, Animal House, when a bewildered white student cries, “The negroes took our dates!”).
The global Left never cared about the Iraqi people until they became American “victims.” As Saddam Hussein slaughtered more Muslims through campaigns of oppression and wars of aggression than any tyrant since Tamerlane, the Left remained silent. But now that Saddam himself might face the death penalty, Leftists everywhere are wringing their hands at the thought of such injustice.
Where were they when the screams of torture victims pierced the prison walls under Saddam? Where were the celebrity journalists when Iraq’s mass graves were being opened over the past fifteen months? Where are the reports of the fierce joy of the Kurds, free at last, free at last?
Now, in late July of 2004, where is the Left as the Sudanese government conducts a campaign of genocide against the wretched of the earth in Darfur Province? Oh, yes, there have been a few crocodile tears—but where are the demands for intervention?
Where are the campus demonstrations against that great liberator, Robert Mugabe, who destroyed Zimbabwe, terrorized its people—and is using scarce reserves of food as a weapon while his citizens slowly starve?
Where is the American Left’s sense of justice in the face of European anti-semitism? Of course, the spreading hate-crimes against Jews, synagogues and cemeteries are all Israel’s fault…that’s been explained to us.
Then where are the protests against the corruption and repression used as tools of control by the Palestinian Authority? The self-respecting Leftist whispers, “It’s their culture…” As are suicide bombers, no doubt.
Why doesn’t the Left complain about the hate speech spewed in mosques and madrassahs around the world? Are calls to exterminate Jews and butcher Christians just “part of their culture,” too?
When will we see mass demonstrations demanding rights for women in the Islamic world? Are women’s rights only for middle-class whites with college degrees?
Where is the Left’s passionate sense of humanity when Islamic extremists behead the innocent—and videotape the event, to the glee of the Muslim world? Of course, those decapitations are really America’s fault…we’ve driven them to it, you see.
The truth is that our Left is so intellectually decrepit, so infected by dishonesty, so morally feeble that it has only breath enough to condemn American actions. No matter how many brown or black human beings suffer around the world—starved, ethnically cleansed, raped, tortured, murdered—it doesn’t count unless you can blame America.
This is a moral crime for which we all pay. By obsessing about Iraq—where the United States and its allies performed a great and noble deed, however imperfect the day-to-day details—the Left has tacitly agreed to let the rest of the world rot. And it is, indeed, rotting.
Intervention to stymie tyrants couldn’t be right in Bosnia or Kosovo when Democrats owned the White House, but automatically wrong with Republican sponsors.
This isn’t just hypocrisy on the part of the Left. It’s complicity. With tyrants and thugs everywhere. The blood of al Qaeda’s victims is on the hands of terror’s apologists, whether in Cairo or in Cambridge.
The domestic tragedy in all this hysterical propagandizing by the Left isn’t just the election-year divisiveness—it’s that our country needs a conscientious Left, with robust ideas to challenge those of the Right and the integrity to defend humankind, not just the rulings of an informal politburo.
Competition is vital in a democracy. Conservatives should rue the moral and intellectual weakness of the contemporary Left. Without competition, every system atrophies. With honest competition, we all perform at a higher level. It’s a sad day for our country when the Left’s philosophy comes from Michael Moore.
Meanwhile, another August looms in that Leftist’s fairy-tale world across the Atlantic. What measures have those humane Europeans put in place to protect the elderly against a return of high temperatures? That paragon of virtues, the French government, informed its elderly citizens that they need to figure out where they can go to stay cool.
Now that’s social justice.
Ralph Peters is the author, most recently, of “Beyond Baghdad: Postmodern War and Peace.”