[sixties-l] The Decadent Left: Still With Us

From: radtimes (resist@best.com)
Date: Tue Sep 18 2001 - 17:58:30 EDT

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    The Decadent Left: Still With Us

    FrontPageMagazine.com | September 18, 2001
    by Ronald Radosh
    URL: http://www.frontpagemag.com/columnists/radosh/2001/rr09-18-01p.htm

    WE HAVE KNOWN for decades what the real agenda of the anti-American Left
    has been: to bring our country down, to support all Third World
    revolutionaries acting in opposition to "the Great Satan," as Islamic
    radicals refer to the USA; to weaken our nation's resolve and its defense
    effort, which is always proclaimed as unnecessary, whose very existence is
    ascribed to the machinations of the "military-industrial complex;" to
    support the enemies of the United States, under the rubric of the slogan
    used by Malcolm X, "the enemy of my enemy is my friend;" to support those
    "socialist" and Communist nations whose foreign policy was based on
    destruction of what the Left called the American Empire, the imperialist
    monster whose oppressed citizenry were forced to live in the "belly of the
    beast." During the years of the war in Vietnam, the Left sought victory for
    Ho Chi Minh and the Viet Cong, or as it preferred to call them, the
    National Liberation Front of Vietnam.

    As part of this effort, the tyrannical leaders of the totalitarian states
    were described by various euphemisms, such as "liberators" and "men of
    greatness." From the 1930's through his death in the early 50's, Communists
    and fellow travelers outdid themselves trying to find the greatest words of
    praise for the crazed tyrant Joseph Stalin who was referred to as one of
    the world's wisest, most brilliant and at the same time most humble and
    humane of statesmen. In a later period, New Leftists joined their
    sycophantic comrades in China in finding similar words of praise for The
    Great Helmsman, Mao-tse Tung, who was proclaimed as the inheritor of the
    mantle of Lenin and Stalin and the one leader willing to bring true
    Communism into the modern world. Others, eschewing Mao, preferred to sing
    the praises of Fidel Castro the man who saw the possibility of defeating
    the United States from a small country so close to its own shores, only
    ninety miles away.

    The figures they supported may have differed over arcane theoretical
    disputes, but they had one thing in common. They all subscribed to Lenin's
    theory of imperialism, and all saw the United States as the main oppressor
    of the world, the capitalist monolith that stood behind oppression of the
    world's peoples and that could only be rescued through the act of
    revolution whether it came from the industrial working class, the black
    American "lumpenproletariat," or revolutionary students was a matter of
    timing and tactics. But the aim was to destroy the United States, upon
    whose grave the peoples of the world would create the new revolutionary utopia.

    Times have changed, and the 1960s are a long time away. Yet the mindset
    developed in those days lives on, as do some of the old players older in
    years, but not any wiser. Andrew Sullivan, writing for the London Sunday
    Times, calls them "the decadent Left [living] in its enclaves on the
    coasts." They have been put on the defensive, as the good, decent America
    has united behind the President in support of whatever measures have to be
    taken, including war, to defeat the new threat of global terrorism. Yet,
    they have not been quiet. Indeed, they have, sometimes hesitatingly,
    sometimes disingenuously, been counting the days until they seek to
    recreate what they managed to build in the years of Vietnam a new,
    anti-American and revolutionary mass movement.

    How is this Left responding to the war the entire civilized world now
    understands it must wage? Its most extreme segment has one simple argument:
    the Moslem radicals and the Palestinian extremists have a just cause; they
    would not have engaged in such a dastardly attack on our nation if the US
    had not supported Israel; eliminate US aid to the only democracy in the
    Middle East, grant the Palestinian extremists their demands for a Palestine
    that all but obliterates Israel as a nation, and then and only then
    will the understandable wave of terrorism cease.

    If you doubt my summary of this argument, turn to the analysis by Columbia
    University's own stone-throwing Professor, a former member of the
    Palestinian National Council, Edward Said. Writing in The Observer (London)
    on September 16, Professor Said begins with the usual begrudging homilies
    about the "senseless destruction" which has produced a "sustained sense of
    outrage and shock." No one, including Said, wants to seem to be insensitive
    to the response of the majority of Americans. But read on. Before very
    long, he gets to his main point, to understand "America's role in the
    world." He bemoans the way that Osama bin Laden is being made into a
    boogeyman, when what has happened is something he, like the Old and New
    Left, secretly cheers: Our nation, "an imperial power [has been] injured at
    home for the first time." What Said calls "rational understanding" will be
    that which resists George W. Bush's "drum-beating," since all who are
    rational understand that "the official US is s!
    ynonymous with arrogant power, [is] known for its sanctimoniously
    munificent support not only of Israel but of numerous repressive Arab
    regimes [by which he means those not sufficiently hostile to the United
    States] and its inattentiveness even to the possibility of dialogue with
    secular movements that have real grievances." Thus, Said writes,
    "Anti-Americanism in this context is not based on a hatred of modernity^ it
    is based on a narrative of concrete interventions; specific depredations,"
    such as "US support for the 34-year-old Israeli occupation of Palestinian
    territories." His point could not be clearer: the anti-Americanism that
    motivated the terrorist attack is not only understandable; it is justified.
    And it could be over if the extremist radicals have their demands met.

    To Said, terms like "terrorism" in contrast to "freedom" are simply "large
    abstractions," meant to hide what he calls "sordid material interests, the
    influence of the oil, defense and Zionist lobbies" which rule the Middle
    East once again, the old crude Marxism in which the ruling class along
    with Jewish interests uses false rhetoric of freedom to hide its mercantile
    interests. It is, indeed, the resurrection of what one smart old early 20th
    century socialist intellectual called anti-Semitism, "the socialism of the
    fools." Of course Said, having made all the excuses, goes on to revert to
    his own stance as a Western intellectual "no cause, no God, no abstract
    idea can justify the mass slaughter of innocents." Of course, he has
    already provided just that justification, and his ending words seem like
    crocodile tears. What really bothers him is that these radical terrorists
    have "primitive ideas of revolution," not the sophisticated kind of
    understanding of a mass movement tha!
    t could be built if only they had consulted Professor Said before they flew
    our planes into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

    What Said and the rest of the Left want first and foremost is not defeat of
    the new terrorism but a halt in the American response, a reprieve in
    which instead of arming ourselves for the fight ahead, we disarm and plead
    for "peace and justice" euphemisms for the cause these terrorists have
    incorrectly represented. Thus Noam Chomsky, our nation's most famous Left
    intellectual, in a widely circulated Internet statement after the attack,
    notes that what the attack shows is "the foolishness of the project of
    'missile defense,'" as if any form of defense is something Chomsky has ever
    supported. And of course, the attack is bad not because of what suffering
    it produced to our countrymen, but because it "is a gift to the hard
    jingoist right," who will now find support for an increased defense budget.
    And of course, he and Nation magazine writer Robert Fisk, whose words he
    quotes, cannot help but stress that this attack supposedly pales in
    comparison to "American missiles smashing!
      into Palestinian homes."

    Chomsky, of course, is considered so extreme by many that since the late
    1960's, he cannot even get his work into the pages of the very liberal New
    York Review of Books. Therefore, some will argue that he is hardly
    representative of a supposedly more sane left-wing. So perhaps it might be
    better to look at the words of John R. MacArthur, publisher of Harper's
    magazine. Writing for a Toronto newspaper, this "moderate" man of the Left
    is upset that our nation, "deluded by the Cold War," has itself supported
    "ungrateful thugs and terrorists" in the name of anti-Communism. If Bin
    Laden is evil, his evil is attributed to us and to a previous generation of
    policy makers, who supported Afghan resistance to the Soviet invasion of
    their country. And once again, we are reminded of Vietnam, and that in that
    war, only Ho Chi Minh deserves praise. Like the New Left who spoke when
    MacArthur was in grade school, this new generation of Left intellectual
    tells us that Ho was "the liberator of !
    Vietnam" who was rebuffed by FDR and Truman "when he asked for support to
    free his country." To this man, living in the 21st Century, he thinks that
    Ho Chi Minh valued something called freedom. Indeed, he even calls the
    Stalinist tyrant "an admirer of Thomas Jefferson," a fact he thinks was
    overlooked by our own leaders, who foolishly believed Ho's "Communist

    We may also turn to the Socialist Party's remaining stalwart David
    McReynolds, who also functions as the top dog in a still existing 1920's
    pacifist-socialist group, The War Resisters League. In his statement after
    the attack, McReynolds emphasizes the need to renew our attacks on US
    foreign policy, especially to condemn "the policy of assassination against
    the Palestinian leadership by Israel," and the "occupation by Israel of the
    West Bank and Gaza." The enemy as always is the "militarism" of the United
    States, which has even had "air strikes against Iraq" and itself engaged in
    "the starkest kind of terrorism." In other words, terrorism is bad but it
    is the USA that practices the worst kind of terrorism.

    And of course, we have as yet one more constant refrain: War means that the
    US might once again resort to a McCarthyite reign of terror curbing our
    civil liberties and doing such horrible things as possibly wiretapping
    potential terrorist cells without sufficient cause, or even opening the
    luggage at an airport of a suspicious Arab passenger. Thus Harold Meyerson,
    now editor of The American Prospect, the major intellectual magazine of
    opinion of the Democratic Party's left-wing, worries that in fighting
    terrorism which of course he sees as necessary we might develop a
    "garrison state" in which "dissent becomes more difficult and less
    audible." Indeed, he even heard General Norman Schwartzkopf say on a
    television interview that he might have to go after "people in this
    country" who aid terrorists. Perhaps we should just let them be. And as
    expected, nothing has taken place to interfere with his long-standing
    belief that "our defense budget is still indefensibly high." Whe!
    n, I wonder, has anyone on the Left ever said we even need a defense
    budget? (perhaps once: in the 1940's, after the Soviet Union was invaded by
    Nazi Germany.) At least in the 60's we used to be honest and yell "butter
    not guns," as if our nation could not have both. But we wanted to
    unilaterally disarm the United States an action that would allow
    America's enemies, whom we supported, to easily win. So the Left,
    exemplified by Nation editor David Corn, makes the argument that the real
    danger is not that we might wage war to defeat the terrorists, but that the
    "national security cadre" will use the attack as an excuse to "bolster the
    military and intelligence establishment." And Matthew Rothschild, editor of
    The Progressive, once a voice for the LaFollette progressives in the State
    of Wisconsin but now another left-wing voice and sister publication of The
    Nation, warns of his real fear that the US will continue to "inflict
    needless suffering on hundreds-maybe thousands-of i!
    nnocent people." The old refrain: the evil USA, which like the USA during
    WW II, might once again curtail civil liberties and detain opponents of the
    Left, just as it detained Japanese Americans on the West Coast. Rothschild
    is clear: no retribution, no attack, since the US is not a power that can
    be said to represent good over evil.

    These dishonest Leftists, who begin by expressing sorrow for the victims of
    the terrorist attack, and who pretend to argue that they favor acting to
    stop them, continue to endorse the arguments of the terrorists and their
    friends, and to propose opposing any measures needed to guarantee the kind
    of military and intelligence capabilities we need to stop them. But they
    are on the defensive. Corn notes, sadly, that even Senator Hillary Clinton
    pledged to support President George W. Bush "in whatever steps he deems
    necessary." If even Hillary Clinton has sensed the tone of her New York
    constituents as being solidly behind the President and for once has said
    the right thing, perhaps Corn and his friends on the Left are finally on
    the road to complete isolation. But let us not underestimate their effort
    and their campaigns. They are only beginning to speak out. And we must do
    what we can to nip them in the bud. That too is a task as our nation
    prepares for war.
    Ronald Radosh is a regular columnist and book reviewer for
    FrontPageMagazine.com. A former leftist and currently Professor Emeritus of
    History at City University of New York, Radosh has written many books,
    including The Rosenberg File (with Joyce Milton) and, most recently,
    Commies: A Journey Through the Old Left, the New Left and the Leftover Left.

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