Friday, May 14, 2004

What if the enemy of my enemy is also the enemy of my friend?

Carl Schrag, "Jews Choose," Slate, February 10, 2004.
A few days ago, I spoke with a woman in Chicago who could have been speaking for many Jews I know. "What am I supposed to do in November?" she asked. "Bush has been so good for Israel, and that's so important to me."

"So, what's the problem?" I asked, even though I knew exactly what her problem was. I hear it every day.

"I'm a lifelong Democrat," she said. "How can I vote for Bush?" She is gratified by Bush's support for Israel in the post-9/11 era, and she believes he's right to pursue the war on terror. But she disagrees with just about every plank of his domestic agenda, and she can't conceive of casting a vote that might mean further weakening the separation of church and state or an end to Roe v. Wade.
American progressive voters find themselves in a similar quandary over Israel. Though they may share positions on domestic issues with this woman, the Third World sympathies of progressives are outraged by the oppression of the Palestinians at the hands of Israel. The reason this is such a predicament for American progressives is that Jews are a crucial constituency for the Democrats, the mainstream American progressive party. I suspect that many of Ralph Nader's supporters are progressives whose sympathy for the Palestinians is strong enough for them to break with the Democratic Party in the Presidential election. On Israel/Palestine, if nothing else, Nader is correct (Jeet can't believe he wrote that either): the difference between most Democrats and Republicans is negligible.
Lorenzo Vidino & Erick Stakelbeck, "Along Came Sharia," National Review, February 29, 2004.
The European Left's strong support for Muslim immigrants has traditionally been twofold: first, Muslims are a religious and ethnic minority in Europe and therefore advance the Left's multicultural agenda. Secondly, as evidenced by their joint participation in the antiwar protests of the past two years, Europe's Left shares with many Muslim immigrants a resentment of the U.S., Israel and capitalism. But virtually all other aspects of the two groups' belief systems are at odds: gay rights, women's rights, abortion rights, multiculturalism, separation of church and state, interfaith dialogue and opposition to the death penalty, all perennial Leftist causes, are opposed by an overwhelming number of Europe's Muslim immigrants, sometimes brutally so.
By killing thousands of Americans, the September 11th attacks absolved Muslim causes of any sins and earned them the immunity from left-wing criticism that had hitherto been enjoyed only by the Palestinians. The United States provoked September 11th and, instead of contrition, responded by declaring war on the Islamic faith, starting with the impoverished Taleban regime of Afghanistan. The enemies of Islam were therefore the allies of the United States and deserved their fate, whether they were animists in Sudan, Hindus in India or Buddhists in Thailand. The struggle against America is so important that the Left was willing to put aside its differences and stand shoulder to shoulder with those who see the independence of East Timor as a neocolonialist Christian partition of Muslim lands. Violence between poor, dark-skinned Third World non-Muslims and Muslims was, as before, linked to the West wherever chains of culpability, no matter how long or circuitous, could be forged. Failing that, however, blame is now more likely to be laid at the feet of the non-Muslim parties or the violence otherwise ignored.

An ex-Marxist whose home was decorated with portraits of both Marx and Lenin, the late Pim Fortuyn, like a stereotypically liberal Dutchman, supported gay rights - Fortuyn was himself openly and proudly gay - and legalized drugs and prostitution, yet was characterized as "far-right" for pointing out that Islamic culture does not share the permissiveness of Dutch culture. Fortuyn was potentially the tip of an iceberg - ex-Leftists no longer able to turn a blind eye to the fundamental incompatibility between the values they hold dear and the objectives of such "comrades" as Dyab Abu Jahjah or the Muslim Association of Britain.

When you're not willing to be bedfellows with either Zionists or Islamic extremists, the mattress gets awful lonely.

UPDATE: Oliver Kamm illustrates how the Socialist Workers Party in Britain, militantly pro-choice in 1999, is papering over its differences on that issue with its allies in the Muslim Association of Britain and George Galloway.