[sixties-l] The New Radical Left (And the Old Folks Who Fuel It) (fwd)

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Date: Thu Jan 09 2003 - 20:46:42 EST

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    Date: Wed, 08 Jan 2003 14:37:00 -0800
    From: radtimes <resist@best.com>
    Subject: The New Radical Left (And the Old Folks Who Fuel It)

    November 11, 2002

    The New Radical Left
    (And the Old Folks Who Fuel It)
    By Maureen Farrell

    They say people become more conservative with age. Until recently, that
    seemed so. For the legions of us who came of age as the left became a
    cartoon, a rightward shift was inevitable. We grew to distrust all of it:
    long overdue advances in civil rights were accompanied by open season on
    anything white and male; the women's movement was hijacked by champions of
    unwed childlessness; and valid opposition to the Vietnam War gave way to
    factions shamelessly spitting upon soldiers. It was distasteful and
    disgraceful and we gravitated towards the center.

    Nevertheless, what was real and honorable about the left stayed with us,
    always. We didn't understand why universal medical care was so scary, for
    example, particularly considering America's runaway corporate welfare. We
    weren't sure how helping the less fortunate became so threatening, since
    taxpayers blindly fund a defense budget of nearly $400 billion per year.
    We also wondered why people were up in arms over welfare to single
    mothers, but not over the $2.3 trillion the Pentagon misplaced. "Every gun
    that is made, every warship that is launched, every rocket fired signifies
    in the final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those
    who are cold and not clothed," Dwight D. Eisenhower once said. Would Ike
    be "too liberal" these days, too?

    We thought we were just average citizens, with average concerns, until we
    woke up to find ourselves part of the radical left. We're not sure how it
    happened, mind you. In fact, we didn't even realize it until a chorus of
    pundits started steering us a certain way. When MSNBC's Lester Holt
    happily explained how daisy cutters work, for example, we were filled with
    queasiness in lieu of national pride. We believed Scott Ritter was telling
    the truth, no matter how often Paula Zahn warned us not to. And despite
    the president's assurances he'd like to avoid war, we trusted Newsday's
    observation that his administration "appeared to be purposely setting the
    bar too high for Hussein to comply."

    Chants about "blaming America first" aside, we have always been
    uncomfortable with our legacy of coups d'etats and assassinations -- and
    of replacing democratically-elected leaders with tyrants of our own. We'd
    prefer to spend that money and energy aggressively seeking alternative
    energy, so babies need not die in our names. And we can't ignore the role
    we've played in creating problems named bin Laden, Hussein, Noriega and
    Pinochet; or inconsistencies in official stories; or hidden agendas,
    regardless how often we're chided by "the liberal media elite."

    Citing others' misgivings over everything from Wellstone's death to 9/11
    to JFK's murder, for example, Ron Rosenbaum recently joined Nicholas
    Kristof in describing ways the left has gone off track. Certainly,
    Wellstone's death could have been "one of those things"; Condoleezza "no
    one would think of flying planes into buildings" Rice might have suffered
    from memory lapses; and, despite suggestions otherwise, Lee Harvey Oswald
    may have acted alone. Rosenbaum's absolute certainty regarding all of this
    is disarming, however, especially to those of us who still have questions
    -- and realize, once again, that there will never be honest investigations
    into any of it. Ever. How can we not be "dumbed down" when it's taboo to
    even question? Do they not see it, too?

    We're told to forget or ignore history and are asked to not even ask.
    Questions regarding the 2000 election are met with "get over it;" Greg
    Palast's report about 91,000 voters wrongly purged from Florida rolls goes
    largely ignored; and an independent investigation into 911 looks as if
    will be stonewalled into oblivion. Will we ever hear another word about
    Wellstone's crash? We are foolish even in the asking. How can we expect
    journalists to pressure officials for answers, when they're too busy
    telling us to look the other way?

    Unlike those in the sixties who took cues from members of their own
    generation, we unlikely radicals rely largely upon our elders. "Remember
    every question is legitimate." Helen Thomas recently said. Every question
    is legitimate? Imagine that.

    When Thomas explained the difference between this president and others
    she's covered, we were grateful that someone, somewhere was saying
    something. "I have never covered a president who actually wanted to go to
    war," she said, adding, "it's bombs away for Iraq and on our civil
    liberties if Bush and his cronies get their way."

    Then, too, Jimmy Breslin's recent comparison of Bobby Kennedy's campaign
    to the 2002 election gave us a glimpse of what we've lost. "I don't think
    that anybody today can understand the sheer thrill of a campaign that was
    based on uncomplicated good," he wrote. "Vote for the guy and you could
    stop people from getting killed. Your own vote could save a life! Vote for
    the guy and you could get a roof for somebody in Brooklyn and food for
    children in Mississippi. People got so excited they couldn't sleep.. . . .
    Nobody wanted war. People weren't crazy.. . .and poverty [wasn't] ended by
    throwing more of the poor into the streets."

    Though we want to feel as if we're rooting for "uncomplicated good," we
    hold our noses each election and vote for more taxation without
    representation. When corporations are calling the shots, progressives are
    at a distinctive disadvantage, as veteran journalist Bill Moyers pointed
    more than a decade ago. And now, following the 2002 election, we can once
    again count upon Moyers to address our concerns. While self-proclaimed
    liberal Chris Matthews giddily hosts right-wing pundits like Bob Dornan
    heralding in "the beginning of the end of liberalism," Moyers chronicles
    the dark times we foresee. Confronting threats to the environment and to
    government transparency and to a woman's right to choose, he openly
    wonders how working people willingly voted against their own interests.
    "If you liked the Supreme Court that put George W. Bush in the White
    House, you will swoon over what's coming," Moyers explained. Does that
    underscore why Chris Matthews delightedly characterized G. Gordon Liddy,
    Pat Buchanan and Dornan as "whooping it up" over what's ahead?

    It would seem so. Because while the Regressive Right is often given a
    forum, the Progressive Left is not. When 20 antiwar congressmen recently
    held a press conference before the Iraq resolution vote, the media didn't
    cover it, as the congressmen were "out of the mainstream." We're not
    talking Noam Chomsky or Robert Fisk, here, we're discussing U.S
    congressmen. Nonetheless, Congressional Progressive Caucus chairman Dennis
    Kucinich was reelected with 74% of the vote, vice chairman Barbara Lee
    captured 81% in her district, Major Owens received 86%, Bernie Sanders,
    65%, Peter DeFazio 64%, Nancy Pelosi 80% and Jesse Jackson, Jr. nabbed 86%
    of the vote. And remember Congressman Jim McDermott, who was demonized for
    visiting Baghdad and for (rightfully) saying Bush would mislead America in
    order to go to war? 74% of the voters in his district voted for him again.
    Needles to say, if McDermott had lost, you would have heard braying

    But none of this signals it's time to start singing "Power to the People"
    just yet. It's important to remember that the seismic shift that's
    occurred in parts of the country is very real. Democrat governor Roy
    Barnes, for example, lost his bid for reelection for having the gall to
    remove the Confederate symbol from Georgia's state flag, and though he
    lost three limbs serving in Vietnam, Max Cleland lost his bid after being
    attacked for a lack of patriotism, because he held out for an inclusion of
    worker's rights for Homeland Security employees. President Bush, Karl Rove
    and Ralph Reed orchestrated much of this -- and we can't help but wonder
    of Jesus Christ were elected to office, how quickly the Religious Right
    would be calling for His head.

    Given this, it looks as if we're in for the fight of our lives. And we are
    going to have to rely on old mentors even more. For generations,
    enlightened writers have been, to paraphrase Obi Wan Kenobi, our
    "guardians of peace and justice." This was "before the dark times, before
    the Empire," mind you. But luckily, while some journalists are telling us
    to close our mouths and close our minds, as we face the darkest times in
    recent memory; we still have some old standbys to offer us light.

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