Tuesday, March 30, 2004

Left Behind

Both Johann Hari and Andrew Sullivan have posted the laments of leftists about the sorry post-September 11th state of the left.

Johann Hari posts his transcript of Nick Cohen at a debate with the Alliance for Workers' Liberty.

If the US doesn’t intervene in the Balkans it’s evil; if the US intervenes in the Balkans, it’s evil....Far too many people on the Left are inclined to make excuses for Islamic fundamentalism. They accept its misogyny so long as it doesn’t target Western women. They accept its fascism so long as it is anti-American fascism....Acknowledgeing the horrors of Islamic fundamentalism would sully their consciences, which they want to keep clean for the battle against America.
Hey, Nick, you forget the left's unqualified acceptance of Islamic fundamentalist violence against poor, brown-skinned non-Muslims in India, the Philippines, Thailand, Sudan and Nigeria!

Andrew Sullivan links to an old column by Ron Rosenbaum for the New York Observer. I would like to have excerpted a different paragraph than Andy, but he's right; this is the money quote. After all, what's a little more corner-cutting in this already lazy clip show of a post? Besides, it's well worth reading the entire column.
Heidegger’s peculiar neutrality-slash-denial about Nazism and the Holocaust after the facts had come out, and the contemporary Left’s curious neutrality-slash-denial after the facts had come out about Marxist genocides—in Russia, in China, in Cambodia, after 20 million, 50 million, who knows how many millions had been slaughtered. Not all of the Left; many were honorable opponents. But for many others, it just hasn’t registered, it just hasn’t been incorporated into their "analysis" of history and human nature; it just hasn’t been factored in. America is still the one and only evil empire. The silence of the Left, or the exclusive focus of the Left on America’s alleged crimes over the past half-century, the disdainful sneering at America’s deplorable "Cold War mentality"—none of this has to be reassessed in light of the evidence of genocides that surpassed Hitler’s, all in the name of a Marxist ideology. An ideology that doesn’t need to be reassessed. As if it was maybe just an accident that Marxist-Leninist regimes turned totalitarian and genocidal. No connection there. The judgment that McCarthyism was the chief crime of the Cold War era doesn’t need a bit of a rethink, even when put up against the mass murder of dissidents by Marxist states.
(Emphasis Rosenbaum's)

I'll follow Johann and Andy's lead by becoming British and gay, er, I mean by also linking to another leftist's self-examination, Ken Mondschein's "The Hypocrisy of the Left".
I was walking down Grand Street in Chinatown earlier today when I started feeling a bit peckish. One of the great things about Chinatown is that you can get dinner really cheap. For instance, there are these old ladies with these steam carts who'll sell you a whole styrofoam container full of noodles and sauce. Those noodles looked and smelled terrific, but then I saw they had little tiny shrimp in them, so I said, "no thanks" and got a sticky bean bun. You see, like a good little anti-establishment free-thinker, I've been a vegetarian since I was 14, owing to the fact that I think that factory farming is awful for the environment and the meat industry is just unsanitary and about a zillion other politically correct reasons.

It was only later that the irony hit me. This woman comes from China, a country with one of the lowest per-capita incomes on the planet, where millions died of starvation during the "Great Leap Forward," to sell me noodles on the street for a buck a pop, and I don't want them because I don't eat shrimp? There are kids in Haiti with bloated bellies from lack of protein who would kill for the opportunity to eat noodles with shrimp—I know, I've seen them. And here I am, who, though I make relatively little money, can eat meat every day if I want to, and I say "no, thanks?" Where the fuck do I get off?
Ken's account of protests at the 2002 World Economic Forum in New York is well worth checking out too.