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The Intellectual Front By: Joseph Yeager
FrontPageMagazine.com | Thursday, August 01, 2002


In his Cold War novel, The Red Fox, Anthony Hyde argued that one could gauge the moral turpitude of American communists by noting the point at which they abandoned the communist cause, and with it, the Soviet Union.  Hence Americommies who parted company with the USSR after Stalin's Red Terror were far less subject to censure than those who continued to support the "vanguard of the proletariat," even in the bloody aftermath of the Soviet Union's invasion of Afghanistan.  The earlier the severance, the less the moral taint.  Conversely, the true communist and genuine moral cretin was the one who could excuse or rationalize the greatest number of dead.

The same formula can be used to judge the level of immorality in today's Arabist, pro-Palestinian, New Leftist.  Those who rejected the Arab/Palestinian/Moslem cause after the massacre of Israeli athletes at the 1972 Munich Olympics are to be faulted far less than New Left figures such as Robert Fisk, Noam Chomsky, Michael Moore, Susan Sontag, Cynthia McKinney, Katha Pollitt, Gore Vidal, Edward Said, Robert Scheer, Michael Albert, and a very significant percentage of the American professorate, who continue to adhere to the Arabist position even after the attacks of 9-11, and the homicide-bombings in Israel.  The abjurers, in their contrition and willingness to grasp the obvious, may be at least partially forgiven.  The diehards, however, in their militant support for the insupportable, must be called the most repulsive of all repulsive Leftists.

But we must not make the mistake of assuming that the Left's Arabism and anti-Americanism will always be marked by blow-charged rhetoric, risible "teach-ins," and sixties-style protests and peace rallies.  On the contrary, there are individuals on the Left, such as Nation contributor and Princeton
Professor of International Law and Practice, Richard Falk, who engage in subversion by stealth.  Utilizing calm language and seemingly rational but nonetheless baneful arguments, the Falks of the Left, a priori, are seeking to head off  America's extension of the War on Terrorism into Iraq, and ipso facto, U.S. efforts to guard against future cataclysms such as the WTC/Pentagon attacks.  Those of us who took Colin Powell's post-9-11 statement about "ending states that sponsor terrorism" seriously, must look with equal concern upon the Left's renascent efforts at rendering Powell's wise statement a nullity.
 
Since 9-11, copious amounts of ink have been spilled in the attempt to answer the supposedly profound question, "Why do Middle Eastern Muslims hate us"? Better questions would be, "Why do so many prominent American Leftists continue to encourage Islamic Middle Eastern hatred toward the United States?  Why do these same people blame America for the events of 9-11? And why do they argue against a just and forceful U. S. response to those events"?

To me, the answer is clear: the sixties generation is still with us, it hasn't changed its ways or its attitudes, and most important, it is now in power.

In his rather Panglossian volume, Bobos in Paradise, which detailed the coming of age of the counterculture, David Brooks related the sunnier aspects of the Baby Boomer ascendancy: a kinder and gentler capitalism, a more democratic intellectual class, more diversity in food and drink, a
meritocratic rather than an aristocratic culture, etc., etc.  What Brooks does not, and indeed could not have said with apposite urgency (the book was published a year before the 9-11 attacks), is that pronounced elements of the countercultural set also bring with them the poisonous anti-Western, anti-American ethos that was the sine qua non of the 1960s.

Those who were fully sentient in the sixties, or who have at least read honest accounts of that decade, know exactly what I'm talking about.  The deviant student radicals who now control the universities -- not to mention the pop culture industry and an increasing number of American corporations--were the very people who spelled America with a "k" to indicate the United States' supposed similarity to Nazi Germany. They spat on American GIs returning from Vietnam and called them baby-killers.  They killed cops, bombed ROTC buildings on campus, and allied themselves with insurrectionary gangsters such as the Black Panthers, just to name a few of their more perverse reverse patriotic capers.

Why should we expect the traitorous tigers to change their stripes now?  For these people, the Palestinians and other Moslems of today are the Vietnamese of yesteryear.  They are a non-Western, non-Christian, non-white people who were colonized by Western powers, just like the Vietnamese.  Writing for The Nation soon after 9-11, Robert Fisk sums up the New Left position well: "The entire history of the Middle East--the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, the Balfour Declaration, Lawrence of Arabia's lies, the Arab revolt, the foundation of the state of Israel, four Arab-Israeli wars and thirty-four years of Israel's brutal occupation of Arab land--all erased within hours as those who claim to represent a crushed, humiliated population struck back with the wickedness and awesome cruelty of a doomed people."  Or, to hear another Nation contributor, Tariq Ali tell it, "For the past sixty years and more the United States has toppled democratic leaders, bombed countries in three continents and used nuclear weapons against Japanese civilians, but it never knew what it felt like to have its own cities under attack.  Now they [sic] know."

For Fisk and his ilk, every evil that befell the Middle East over the last century rebounded -- justly? -- upon the United States on 9-11.  It is not hard to sense Fisk's sympathy for the downtrodden Middle Easterners who, like the communist Vietnamese thirty-five years ago, also felt the incursive military wrath of the United States.  For New Leftists such as Fisk, the Vietnam War, the Gulf War and the War on Terrorism are nothing more and nothing less than new instantiations of old colonialism.  And if and when the U.S. brings force to bear against the demoniac Saddam Hussein, we can fully expect Fisk and kindred spirits to once more trot out their shopworn affinities for
non-Western malefactors, and their thinly veiled contempt for America.

One of those kindred spirits -- although far more subtle, sophisticated, and genteel than Fisk -- is Princeton's Richard Falk.  Falk's polish and erudition, unfortunately, do not prevent him from making asinine statements. Hence Falk famously informed readers of the New York Times in 1979 that "The depiction of Khomeini as fanatical, reactionary, and the bearer of crude prejudices seems certainly and happily false.  Iran may yet provide us with a desperately-needed model of humane government for a third-world country." His political judgment, therefore, may be open to question.  Apparently The Nation, however, finds little to question.  His July 15 article in that web-zine, is, in essence an intellectual pre-emption of what he describes as President Bush's "scary" new foreign policy innovation of preempting the expansion of states possessing weapons of mass destruction, namely Iraq. Falk describes pre-emption as the validation of "striking first--not in a crisis, as was done by Israel with plausible, if not entirely convincing, justification in the 1967 war, when enemy Arab troops were massing on its borders after dismissing the UN war-preventing presence, but on the basis of shadowy intentions, alleged potential links to terrorist groups, supposed plans and projects to acquire weapons of mass destruction, and anticipations of possible future dangers."  Is Falk unconvinced by Iraq's past use of weapons of mass destruction against Kurds and Shi'ites, its history of wanton attacks against its neighbors, its well-documented efforts at developing nuclear weapons, and the growing body of evidence linking it to Osama bin Laden and Al-Qaeda?  Or is he merely opposed America's muscular and necessarily unilateral prevention of future 9-11s by "ending states [such as Iraq] that sponsor terrorism?

Falk also impugns the very motives of the Bush administration in attempting to defend the citizens entrusted to its care.  He states, "What is feared in Washington, I think, is not aggressive moves by these countries but their acquisition of weapons of mass destruction that might give them a deterrent
capability with respect to the United States and other nations."  Given the horrific attacks of 9-11 and Iraq's proven willingness to use weapons of mass destruction, might it not be more plausible that Washington opposes the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, not because we are jealous of our power, but because we very reasonably fear that such weapons might be used to reprise 9-11?  But such Americaphobic paranoia and disingenuousness is the coin of the realm among Leftists such as Falk.

In addition to the purely political, racial, religious, historical and cultural factors that generate New Leftist sympathy for the devil, is an economic factor.  In the Vietnam War, America supported the "reactionary" and "exploitative" free-market communists of Ho Chi Minh's North Vietnam. Moreover, America was an incredibly wealthy nation intervening in the affairs of a country notable for its poverty.  And in the eyes of the Leftist, both then and now, poverty is next to godliness while wealth equals villainy.

This phenomenon dovetails neatly with the current situation vis-à-vis the Middle East.  Like the Vietnamese, the Moslems of the Middle East tend to be very poor.  We thus hear Leftists calling for Americans to examine the "root causes" of terrorism, first of which, invariably, is poverty.  Hence, in a tedious New Left refrain, UC Santa Cruz sociologist Ben Crow states that "Economic inequality provides the context within which desperate acts emerge.  There are more sophisticated ways of supporting economic and social alternatives to the Taliban in Afghanistan than bombing.  That would be the more long-term approach to diminishing the threat of terrorism."  One suspects that Crow's prescription for lessening economic inequality in the Middle East would have something to do with banking the fires of globalization, retracting support for Israel, and redistributing moneys -- if not actual wealth--to the have-nots.  These too are tropes of Leftist tomfoolery.

In all fairness, however, we cannot claim that all New Leftists and all academics have sided with the enemy.  Christopher Hitchens, Michael Walzer and Salman Rushdie are three prominent members of the New Left who have fought the good fight on behalf of righteousness.  And academia has its fair share of clear thinkers such as Jean Bethke Elshtain and John Searle.  These exceptions notwithstanding, however, the rot still runs deep in the New Left.  A very cursory examination of my California files on academic responses to 9-11 revealed quotes such as the following. By academic standards they are atypical neither in their sentiments nor in their intensity of expression.

"Muslims feel they are under assault by American hegemonism.  And the West is fully implicated in the emergence and structural power of these insurrectionist movements.  We need to understand their grievances to create political reforms to deal with these movements, rather than military actions" (Professor Paul Lubeck of UC-Santa Cruz).

"Any military response may only cause more suffering in poor countries, and may result in more volunteers for (Osama) bin Laden-type groups" (Professor Laurie Brand of USC).

"As a nation we have an opportunity to respond to Tuesday's terrorist acts in a more creative manner than bombing with cruise missiles the symbols of terrorist strongholds.  Must we play by their rules?  Do we with fundamentalist zeal have to revert to the oldest and most primitive form of
morality--namely, an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth" (Donald E.Miller of USC)?

"This terrorism is a crime against humanity, and that's how it should be pursued: as a crime against which we and the international community must bring all the forces of law enforcement and criminal prosecution to bear. This is a job for international police work, not the military. Let's get tough on terrorism. The only way to do this is by examining the sources and not merely the symptoms of terrorism, even if it means admitting our role in the violence.  For all the warmongering and saber-rattling, Washington's proposed actions provide only a weak and superficial response that will never get to the roots of the problem and will instead only multiply the symptoms.  That takes no courage whatsoever" (Professor Robert Elias of the University of San Francisco).

I could multiply the examples five-hundred fold and produce a book.  But we can state the findings before the book is written: the New Left, much like its communist, Old Left predecessor, is guilty of attempting to undermine the United States though its use of moral equivalency, stultifying pacifism,
and its provision of psychic comfort to America's foes.  This fact is momentous.  For if we consider that the attacks of 9-11 signaled the emergence of a new and probably enduring regime of geopolitical relations, we must also anticipate that the New Left will for many decades to come,
continue to constitute a serious drag on America's efforts to defend itself and make the world a better place for all.  We, in turn, must gird ourselves not only for the physical fronts ranging from the Maghreb to Central Asia, but also the intellectual fronts situated in New York, Cambridge, and Berkeley.

 




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