Topic: Must Read
Just a note to announce that my short story, "Take Back the Name," has been published in the latest issue of eFiction Magazine.
The intellectual and moral corruption of the contemporary Left (I use the word as shorthand for liberals, progressives and leftists) is evident in such things as its one-eyed attitude toward Islam and its fanatical defense of the baby butchers of Planned Parenthood. But these are hot political issues and drawing attention to them reliably attracts charges of bigotry, bias, “McCarthyism,” etc. It’s a rather lame defense of the indefensible but with the collusion of the media it often works.
But I wonder how defenders of the Left can spin away this story (from the New York Post): City Council honors Ethel Rosenberg for “great bravery.”
That’s Ethel Rosenberg, wife of Julius Rosenberg and just in case the names are unfamiliar to you I'll mention that they were both executed in 1953 after being convinced of treason and espionage. Among other betrayals the Rosenbergs played a role in the theft of US atomic bomb secrets and their transmittal to the Soviet Union—whose leader at the time was that monster of evil, J.V. Stalin.
Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were clandestine member of the Communist Party. They pledged their allegiance to the cause of world revolution as embodied in that worker’s paradise, the Stalinist Soviet Union. For decades the Left denied the facts and cried that the treasonous pair were victims of anti-communist hysteria, “McCarthyism,” etc. But their guilt was proved beyond a reasonable doubt at their trial and later scholarship has confirmed it. Not even the Rosenbergs’ children, lifelong partisans of their parents’ cause, now deny it.
Never mind, though. Two proclamations issued by the New York City Council laud Ethel Rosenberg for her “great bravery” in leading a strike against the New York Packing and Supply Company in 1935—as if that sponges away her treason. The City Council also complains that she was wrongfully executed in a “rush to judgment” fueled by anti-communist hysteria.
Let’s call these claims what they are: bare-faced lies. Not only did the Rosenbergs receive due process—something that their hero Stalin would not have bothered with if they’d been spying on his country—they were indisputably guilty. And while it may be true that Ethel Rosenberg displayed “great bravery” in 1935, by the Forties she was actively engaged in treason. But none of this matters to the leftists of the New York City Council, mouthing their worn-out phrases about McCarthyism and anti-communist hysteria. They even had the impertinence to repeat in their proclamations the long-since-discredited claim that Ethel Rosenberg was innocent of the charges leveled against her.
Their behavior is disgraceful but it doesn’t surprise me. In just the same manner, the Left turned on America in the aftermath of 9/11. In big ways and small the Left made common cause with the enemies of this country. Then (but not now, with Barack Obama in the White House) “dissent” was held to constitute the highest form of patriotism and this principle held good even when dissent rose to the level of treason, as in the case of Lynne Stewart. So of course the Left now honors a traitor to her country. Had Ethel Rosenberg been around on September 12, 2001 she’d have been crying out that Amerikka deserved what it got.
Republican presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson got himself in trouble recently by opining that devotees of Islam are unqualified to serve as president of the United States. For this expression of bigotry he was roundly condemned, critics in the media and elsewhere emoting over “Islamophobia,” delivering finger-wagging lectures about the US Constitution’s stricture against religious tests as a qualification for political office, etc. And as you’d expect, many of Carson’s critics proudly proclaimed that they would never reject a presidential candidate just because he happens to be a Muslim.
It’s nice to know that liberals, progressives and leftists—let’s call them the broad Left—would be pleased and proud to vote a Muslim into the White House—provided, of course, that the Muslim in question supported abortion, same-sex marriage, the equality of women, separation of church and state, religious pluralism and so on. Of course, that a candidate who supported such things could actually be a Muslim is a highly debatable question that reveals two things: (1) Dr. Carson’s point was to some extent a valid one and (2) liberals, progressives and leftists are hypocrites.
Is it not obvious that a Muslim presidential candidate acceptable to the broad Left wouldn’t really be a Muslim at all? No, he’d be an apostate, eligible in the eyes of many faithful Muslims for capital punishment. Now a liberal who happens to be a Catholic can dodge the problem of the conflict between faith and ideology by saying: “As a private person I accept the teaching of the Church on marriage, abortion, etc.—but as a public servant I have to take a broader view.” This claim may be dubious as a matter of faith and morals. But the only authority wielded by the Catholic Church is moral authority; it has no power to fine, imprison or kill the backslider or the heretic. Indeed, the Church in America has for the most part been reluctant to wield even its moral authority in the cases where liberal Catholic politicians support abortion, same-sex marriage, etc.—say, by excommunicating Nancy Pelosi.
But Islam isn’t like that. The authority it claims is not just moral but legal, political—even economic. Islam is a religion but not simply a religion. It demands and in many parts of the world receives the power to order the whole life of the community. In countries where it holds such power Islam does not simply violate Western norms of human rights in practice—it rejects them in principle. Pluralism, whether secular or religious, is anathema to Islam. Democracy is inadmissible. Equality is nonexistent. Those are the realites of Islam.
In America, of course, Muslims constitute a small minority. They lack the power and, probably, the will to impose Islamic norms on the country as a whole. As citizens or legal residents they’re entitled to the free exercise of their religion, provided that the rights of others are not infringed upon thereby. There’s no reason to think that Muslims in America pose a threat to our democracy or our pluralistic society. Many of them are here, indeed, because of the oppression they experienced in their native countries.
How far, though, can Muslims participate in American public life while remaining faithful to their religion? In good conscience, could an American Muslim politician make a distinction between his private religious beliefs and his role as a public servant? As a county clerk, could she in good conscience issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples? As a soldier, could he in good conscience oppose fellow Muslims on the field of battle? The answers to these questions are not at all obvious. And Dr. Ben Carson’s critics are very anxious that they not be raised at all.
Today is a day of remembrance. In various ways, in various places, Americans mourn the dead of September 11, 2001—truly a date that will live in infamy. They commemorate the heroism shown by police officers, firefighters, paramedics, and others on that terrible day. And they honor the service of those who took up the fight against the brutal enemy who so grievously wounded our country. All this is fitting and proper.
But we should also remember those who greeted 9/11 with malicious satisfaction. Most of them, of course, were the usual suspects: the declared enemies of Great Satan. More than a few of them, though, were our fellow Americans: people who decried displays of patriotism, crafted apologia for Islamofascist terror and denounced the President of the United States as a fascist, a war criminal, etc. These Americans complied a record of dishonor and betrayal that whether we like it or not is also part of the memory of 9/11.Take the novelist Barbara Kingsolver. Here’s how she reacted to 9/11 and its aftermath:
My daughter came home from kindergarten and announced, “Tomorrow we all have to wear red, white and blue.”
“Why?” I asked, trying not to sound wary.
“For all the people that died when the airplanes hit the buildings.”
I fear the sound of saber-rattling, dread that not just my taxes but even my children are being dragged to the cause of death in the wake of death. I asked quietly, “Why not wear black, then? Why the colors of the flag, what does that mean?”
“It means we're a country. Just all people together.”
So we sent her to school in red, white and blue, because it felt to her like something she could do to help people who are hurting. And because my wise husband put a hand on my arm and said, “You can't let hateful people steal the flag from us.”
This on September 25, 2001, while the rubble was still smoking.
Then there was Professor Ward Churchill, a celebrated Native American activist who opined in 2003 that the people killedd in the fall of the Twin Towers were “little Eichmanns” who got what was coming. It’s pleasant to record that the attention Churchill attracted to himself with this nasty little sneer cost him his job. It turned out that his claim to be a Native American was false and that much of his scholarship was either bogus or plagiarized. For this Churchill was booted from his position at the University of Colorado. But later on Naomi Wolf cited him as a victim of Bush Administration fascism in her lunatic book, The End of America. Wolf argued that George W. Bush and his cabal were literal fascists, following the Hitler playbook in an effort to bring National Socialism to America. This demented screed received rave reviews.
Michael Moore’s contribution was a clumsy piece of agitprop, Fahrenheit 9/11, the quality of which can be gauged by the adolescent faux-cleverness of its title. Though dedicated to a friend of Moore who was killed by the Islamofascists on 9/11, the film concentrates all its bile on the President of the United States, playing out a string of implausible conspiracy theories and plain lies. Fahrenheit 9/11’s Washington DC premiere was attended by a gaggle of Democratic members of Congress with a grinning Nancy Pelosi at its head.
The antiwar movement that burgeoned in the wake of 9/11 soon surpassed that of the Vietnam era in the viciousness of its anti-Americanism. Demonstrations routinely featured signs and chants calling for the death of President Bush. Others called upon US troops to mutiny: WE SUPPORT THE TROOPS WHEN THEY SHOOT THEIR OFFICERS. Particularly loathsome was the movement’s exploitation of Cindy Sheehan, the mother of a US soldier killed in action in Iraq. Sheehan, a long-time left-wing activist was clearly a kook. (When the Army sent troops to New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, she showed up to demand an end to the “military occupation” of the city.) But she was also the mother of a dead soldier, so the movement christened her “Mother Sheehan” and tried to make her into an antiwar symbol. To see her on TV, raving and ranting about the evils of George W. Bush and American imperialism, was truly painful. How could anyone with a heart have let her make such a spectacle of herself?
Now of course the Bush Administration was and is open to criticism on many counts. The wars in both in Afghanistan and Iraq were badly mismanaged. The case for the attack on Iraq was allowed to rest on Saddam Hussein’s possession of weapons of mass destruction and when no such weapons were found the blow to US prestige was a heavy one. Moreover, having made these military commitments the President and his people seemed curiously reticent about mobilizing the country for war. To the charges of their increasingly shrill and bitter critics they made no effective reply. Nor did the leadership of the US military cover itself with glory.
But right from the beginning, the Left in this country rejected the proposition that the United States, having been attacked, had the right to strike back against its enemies. Ward Churchill, stealing a line from Malcolm X, said that on 9/11 the chickens had come home to roost and many on the Left echoed him. Sometimes the anti-Americanism of the antiwar activists descended into farce, as when they objected to airdrops of food to Afghan civilians at the time of the US invasion. They claimed to fear that the pallets might fall on Afghan children and kill them! They also argued that the rations being supplied were unsuitable for Muslims—as if that would have made a difference to starving people. To them as to our formal enemies America was the Great Satan: wrong on every count, everywhere, all the time.
As noted in connection with Michael Moore, the venom of the hard Left came to poison conventional politics. Initially the Democratic Party, shocked by the events of 9/11, rallied behind the Bush Administration. But soon enough they repented of that and a little later supposedly respectable figures like Senator Dick Durban of Illinois were heard comparing the US military to the Waffen-SS.
The excesses of the antiwar mob and of those who allowed themselves to be influenced by it were justified with the claim that dissent is the highest form of patriotism. The sincerity of this claim can be judged by its absence in the Age of Obama. Many of the people who claimed the title of patriot by reviling Bush call the critics of Obama disloyal and even treasonous. In this small matter as in the great issues of our times, the bad faith of the Barbara Kingsolvers, Ward Churchills, Naomi Wolfs, Michael Moores, Noam Chomskys of the world is revealed. They and those like them well deserve to be called out on this solemn day of remembrance.
The fans of Hillary Clinton—an ever-shrinking group if the polls are to be believed—can take comfort from the news that her campaign minions have drawn up a detailed plan to roll out a more relaxed, spontaneous and witty version of the Pants-Suited One. This must be said of HRC: She has debunked F. Scott Fitzgerald’s claim that there are no second acts in American life. I’m afraid I’ve lost count but the new and improved candidate shortly to be unveiled must surely be HRC V.5 or 6.
That HRC is a lousy campaigner and a maladroit politician ought not to surprise anyone. Her performance in 2007-08 was just as unimpressive. Maybe people thought that she’d learned from her mistakes. But when has she ever? Hillary Clinton has always been distant, robotic, gaffe prone, thin skinned. She manifestly lacks the sure political touch that served her husband so well. Her record as a senator was undistinguished and her record as Secretary of State is just a hole in the air. We keep hearing about her incredible accomplishments, her brilliance, her command of the issues—but how do those claims on her behalf square with the email server scandal? However powerful her intellect, HRCs sense of entitlement, her feeling that the rules don’t apply to her, seem more powerful still. And the result was a grievous self-inflicted wound that may very well cripple her campaign.
And Bill Clinton? Bubba must be beating his head against the wall. How could HRC have been married to him for all these years and not learned one single thing from the master? Indeed it’s painful in a nails down the chalkboard sort of way to watch HRC lumber through a performance of the old Clinton Two-Step. If he’s the Fred Astaire of fancy political footwork, she’s the Rosie O’Donnell of charm and personality.
What a difference a year makes! Back then HRC was the It Girl of American politics: backed by the mighty Clinton machine, her party’s favorite, on her way to a comfortable coronation. And it could still happen, I suppose, because one thing the Clintons know how to do is collect favors. Lots of people in the Democratic Party and its associated groups owe Bill and Hill—big time. Bernie Sanders may be wowing the lefties and Joe Biden might be the Dems’ sentimental favorite but HRC has the money, the endorsements and not, least, the determination to eviscerate the opposition, if that what it takes to clinch the nomination.
Still, there’s no denying the fact that people don’t particularly like HRC, now the Id Girl of her party. Oh, sure, she’s fawned over in the most obsequious manner by some in the media, by the denizens of her inner circle and by the favor seekers who buzz around powerful politicians like flies at a picnic. And who knows? It may well be that when she’s safely ensconced among her loyal retainers HRC is considerate, charming, witty, etc. But out on the campaign trail? She’s no happy warrior, that’s for sure.
Boy, I don’t envy the Democrats this time around: Voting for HRC will be like swallowing a dose of cod’s liver oil. I have to admit, though, that my enjoyment of their plight is tempered by the nagging thought that Republicans will somehow select as their standard bearer the one and only candidate who could lose to Hillary R. Clinton…
Pop quiz! Precisely what is it that “conveys a sense of stability and growth and is rooted in the humanist values of Europe in the most beautiful way”? This!
Italian sculptor Giuseppe Penone’s bronze and granite tree is one of three works of, ahem, art commissioned to adorn the headquarters of the European Central Bank in Frankfurt, Germany at a cost of €1.25 million. The other two pieces are an aluminum rock and a sculpture of a mathematical formula.
Now in case your imagination fails in understanding how this…thing…conveys Europe’s humanist principles, Penone has provided the following helpful explanation:
The indistinct nature of the marble encloses infinite millennial existences compressed by the relentless weight of gravity, existences supported by the pure white calcium that has structured its form. The whiteness of the calcium envelops our thoughts, appears in our smiles, articulates our movements. The marble belongs to us, nurtures and sustains and attests to our existence. A tree trunk of marble, of calcium, encloses in our thought, the carbon, the plant, and the plant the mimicry of the color of the bronze, the green of the foliage and the trees, the flow of matter where courses the subterranean life of the world.
As for the ECB, it reacted to criticisms that blowing a million and a quarter Euros on such stuff is not appropriate at a time when austerity is being preached to the wretched Greeks, with characteristic elitist claptrap: “It is not about decorating the headquarters, it is about helping the cultural world.” After all, Article 167 of the European Union mandates the flowering of culture!
Writing in National Review, Andrew Stuttaford wondered what “what is worst about this; the condescension, the arrogance, the waste, the eurobabble, the characteristically dodgy legal rationale, the jabber passed off as erudition or the junk passed off as art.” Indeed, it’s hard to choose…
New York Times columnist and pundit Charles Blow has his knickers in a twist over the anti-police group, Black Lives Matter. No, he’s not upset about BLM’s incendiary rhetoric or its false portrayal of America’s police officers as racist stormtroopers. Blow’s is very worried that that killing of police officers might damage BLM’s image. “It is impossible to credibly make the case that Black Lives Matter as a movement is a hate group or that it advocates violence,” he huffed. “Demanding police fairness, oversight and accountability isn’t the same as promoting police hatred or harm.”
Mr. Blow thinks it terribly unfair that BLM’s rhetoric, such as the chant heard recently in Minneapolis, “Pigs in a blanket, fry ‘em like bacon,” is being publicized by the media. How to explain this? Racism, of course! It’s is just one more example, you see, of white America’s “discomfort with blackness itself.”
Well, my discomfort is not with blackness as such but with the group, Black Lives Matter, that Blow defends in his race-baiting screed. He writes as if the “pigs in a blanket” incident referred to above was an aberration, possibly a harmless joke—that BLM is a responsible protest group that would never, ever advocate the killing of police. In point of fact, though, multiple examples of BLM’s racist, anti-police, pro-violence ideology can be cited, for example:
Notice the slogan, “Assata Taught Me.” That’s Assata Shakur, aka Joanne Chesimard, a convicted cop killer who’s been living in exile in Cuba since the Seventies and still resides on the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted list. Joanne Chesimard is BLM’s inspiration and role model. “Assata Taught Me” hoodies and t-shirts are going fast. Get yours today!
Nor was the ‘pigs in a blanket” chant that Blow waved away an isolated incident. As a matter of fact it’s been heard all over the country, whenever a BLM protest occurs. And it echoes one Ismaaiyl Brinsley, who assassinated two New York City police officers last December “I'm putting wings on pigs today,” he wrote on Instagram. “They take 1 of ours ... let's take 2 of theirs. This may be my final post ... I'm putting pigs in a blanket.”
Surely Blow knows all this. So why didn’t he deign to mention it in his column? Well, because his column constituted a lame attempt to whitewash—oops, sorry about that!—to prettify a racist hate group that promotes the assassination of police officers in the name of racial justice. with prefect predictability, Blow plays the race card: “America has been engaged since its inception in a most gruesome enterprise: Like the mythological Cronus, it has been eating its children, the darker ones, and this movement demands—at least in one area, at least in one moment—that it atone for that abomination.”
Thanks, Chuck. I’ll pass that along to the family and friends of Deputy Darren H. Goforth.
Hillary Clinton is a liar and a felon.
That’s the inescapable conclusion to be drawn from the revelations contained in the latest batch of emails released by the State Department, covering her tenure as Secretary of State. Everything—everything—that Clinton has told us so far about the notorious private email server she used while serving as Secretary of State has proved untrue. In particular, her various claims, which have evolved over time, that no classified information was sent via her private, unsecured email account nor stored on her private, unsecured server have now been shown to be false.
Included in the just-released emails is classified intelligence information on North Korean nuclear weapons—information derived from satellite imagery. In all there are 150 pages of classified material, some of which originated with Clinton. In other words she not only received but produced classified documents and transmitted them via her private email account.
Clinton has defended herself by claiming, variously, that she didn’t know that certain information was classified, that the documents she sent and received bore no classification markings and that certain information was not classified “at the time” she sent or received it. None of these explanations are persuasive, nor do they absolve her and her associates of responsibility for grave security breaches. It’s impossible to believe, for example, that Clinton did not know that information on North Korean nuclear weapons was unclassified. Making matters worse for Clinton and her minions, there’s evidence that email markings were tampered with in an effort to hide the fact that they contained classified information.
So if life were fair, Hillary Clinton would be facing indictment for violations of multiple federal laws involving the improper transmission of and failure to safeguard classified information. In this connection it should be noted that despite attempts to confuse the issue, it’s a fact that Clinton and a number of her associates are under criminal investigation by the FBI. The claim that not she but her private email server is the target of the investigation is risible. The FBI does not investigate inanimate objects, nor does it conduct non-criminal investigations.
But the decision to indict and prosecute lies with the Justice Department. And though there’s considerable bad blood between the Obama and Clinton camps it’s doubtful whether the President would green-light an indictment of his party’s frontrunner for the 2016 presidential nomination. Though in principle the Justice Department is supposed to be non-political, under Eric Holder it was anything but. The current attorney general, Loretta Lynch, is reputed to be a straight-shooting prosecutor. To go against the wishes of the boss on an issue of such weight and significance, however, would take more spine than she probably possesses.
Perhaps the evidence of Clintonian criminality will grow so blatant that the Justice Department will have no choice but to prosecute. There are many more emails to be released and who knows what ticking time bombs they may contain? Even if that doesn’t happen it seems possible that Clinton’s 2016 presidential bid could be derailed. That people in the media are beginning to compare her to Richard Nixon is no good sign. Not can it be said that the candidate and her cabal have handled the server scandal adroitly. Relying, probably, on a belief that the compliant media would carry Clinton’s water, they’ve followed a strategy of misdirection, obfuscation, parsing of words, etc. This might have worked if Hillary Clinton were a good politician. But Hillary Clinton is in fact a lousy politician. There’s an unfortunate Stepford Wives quality to her public persona: a stiffness of gesture and expression, a falseness of tone. Combined with the campaign’s boilerplate defense—“It’s the vast right-wing conspiracy again!”—the effect is to make her appear ever more shifty, dishonest and untrustworthy.
There’s no doubt that the server scandal has damaged Clinton. In Iowa she’s hemorrhaging support, most of the defections benefitting self-described socialist Bernie Sanders. In New Hampshire some polls actually show Sanders in the lead. A significant faction within the Democratic Party base has never cared for the Clintons. These people, mostly left-wing progressives, only supported Hillary because she appeared unbeatable. Now that appears to be changing—and many progressives are jumping ship. Among the electorate as a whole, the impression is growing that Hillary Clinton is a liar, dishonest, untrustworthy—these being the top three choices when people are asked to describe her in one word.
Hillary Clinton used to be the 2016 Democratic presidential candidate that Republicans most feared. Now, I suspect, she’s coming to be seen as the one they’d much prefer to run against. Barring some bombshell revelation that utterly demolishes the Clinton campaign, that’s what they’re likely to get: a severely damaged candidate who’s personally unlikable and a poor campaigner, carrying baggage enough to sustain a tsunami of attack ads. Oh well, I suppose that Clinton 2016 seemed like a good idea at the time…
Socialism is all the rage just now, thanks to the quixotic presidential candidacy of Senator Bernie Sanders, Independent of Vermont and a self-designated socialist. Boosted mostly by the Democratic Party base’s distaste for the shifty and uncharismatic Hillary Clinton, Sanders is creeping up in the polls. And the Left is thrilled. Socialism! Its American moment has come!
But don’t hoist the red flag or throw up those street barricades just yet, comrades. There are some caveats that need to be considered: Bernie Sanders is not really a socialist, nor can what he’s preaching be called socialism. Sanders is a leftie progressive, nothing more, and his agenda for America is standard-issue left-wing progressivism. Sure, he and his claque have deployed lots and lots of fiery anti-capitalist rhetoric. They lambaste the rich, the big banks, Wall Street. But also they need the rich, the big banks, Wall Street. Where else are they going to get the money to pay for all that free stuff they promise to shower on the struggling middle class?
Come to think of it, Sanders’ professed devotion to the welfare of the middle class seems decidedly un-socialist. Since when have socialists championed the class-ridden society? The very term—“middle class”—legitimizes the existence of an upper class and a lower class. In whatever circle of Hell they inhabit Marx, Engels, Lenin and the rest of them must be rolling their eyes. Recall how J.V. Stalin dealt with Russia’s rural middle class, the kulaks: He exterminated them. But Sanders, that social fascist, proposes to build up the American middle class!
Ah, but you see, Marx, Engels, Lenin, Stalin, etc. were not socialists. I have this on the authority of several progressives who have taken great offense at my light-hearted labeling of Bernie Sanders as “Comrade Sanders.” How dare I engage in such McCarthy-like rhetoric? Anyhow, socialism has nothing whatever to do with communism. It’s completely different! It’s not the Soviet Union—it’s Sweden!
Nothing new here: For a long time now the Left has been struggling to free itself of the tie to totalitarian communism. It’s true, of course, that the Left as a whole includes various non-communist factions, some of which were and are actively hostile to Soviet-style communism. But it’s also true that the Left as a whole sprang from the same Marxist root. In the 1930s, before its true character became plainly evident, Western leftists and progressives hailed Soviet communism as the herald of the radiant future. And when evidence of Stalin’s ghastly crimes began to trickle out, many on the Left either ignored the facts or worked actively to cover them up. “No enemies on the Left,” they told one another by way of justification.
To this moral confusion has been added a considerable amount of intellectual confusion. As the Left developed and diversified many of its factions embraced conventional politics, e.g. the German Social Democratic Party and the British Labour Party. Rhetorically they continued to honor socialist ideals and the revolutionary tradition. Practically, however, they abandoned the class struggle, revolution, etc., devoting their energy instead to reform measures: unemployment insurance, old-age pensions, workplace safety rules and so forth. To a considerable extent they were successful in this campaign, which eventually created the modern welfare state. But orthodox socialists still wedded to the ideology of class and revolution excoriated these trends. In their eyes the welfare state merely buys off the proletariat and perpetuates capitalism. And they do have a point.
If words mean anything at all, Bernie Sanders is no socialist. Is he proposing to expropriate the capitalists? No. Is he proposing to abolish private property? No. Is he proposing to collectivize the means of production? No. Is he proposing to replace the market economics with a centralized, centrally planned economy? No. What Comrade Sanders is proposing is that Peter should be robbed for Paul’s benefit: a redistribution of wealth via an expansion of the welfare state. Maybe you think that’s a good idea and you’re certainly entitled to your opinion—but please don’t insult my intelligence by insisting to me that Sanders is advocating “socialism.”
So what’s going on here? Well, though in substance socialism is banal and obnoxious, its aura does retain a certain appeal. “Socialism” means compassion and equality and inclusion and free stuff for everybody. Better still, being a socialist means that you’re morally and intellectually superior to non-socialists. Studies prove this! A recent national poll found that over 40% of Millennials favor socialism over capitalism—no doubt because they imagine that socialism means student loan forgiveness and the high-paying jobs to which they believe they’re entitled by virtue of their degrees in peace studies, eco-feminism and puppeteering. That Millennials have the slightest conception of socialism’s origins and history is a dubious proposition indeed.
During the Vietnam War an American officer notoriously declared that it was necessary to destroy some village or other in order to save it. A similar thing has happened with socialism. In order to preserve it as a brand the Left has deprived the word “socialism” of its former, rigorous definition. Nowadays it’s a warm and fuzzy little puffball of a word, denoting an overflowing cornucopia of benefits and entitlements, distributed with a generous hand by a smiling, paternal government bureaucrat. That’s the reality behind Comrade Sanders and his angry rhetoric. And the only remaining question is this: Are you willing to sell your soul in exchange for a government handout? If you are, then Bernie’s definitely your guy.
Dissent was the highest form of patriotism until Barack Obama came along and the Left discovered that criticizing or opposing their Messiah-in-Chief constituted disloyalty, sedition and even treason. Let us leave that aside, however, and examine the premise on its merits: In view of the behavior of the Left from the Sixties to now, can it be said that dissent is patriotic?
Before going on I should probably note that the term Left, as used here, is meant to denote those individuals, groups, parties, movements, etc. that in one way or another consider themselves progressive. That is, they not only pledge their faith to the concept of history as progress but believe themselves to be on the right side of that historical process. In the United States this category encompasses orthodox communists and socialists, democratic socialists, progressives and liberals. As the recent ascent of Bernie Sanders demonstrates, there’s some confusion regarding these terms. Certainly Sanders is no socialist in the strict sense of the word. (But one thing to note about the American Left is its permissive use of words.) Very generally speaking, the Left in America embodies all those people who will vote for the Democratic candidate, whoever that turns out to be.
It was the Vietnam-era antiwar movement that supplied the founding myth of dissent as the highest form of patriotism. In the telling of the Left, saintly, peace-loving antiwar activists, appalled by American war crimes and genocide in Indochina, rose up in protest with one voice, appealing to the conscience of the nation, and finally bringing an end to a terrible war. But this pleasing picture was slapped together ex post facto, with the deliberate intention of suppressing some ugly truths.
First among those truths: the antiwar movement was anti-American from the start and it became more and more strident in its hatred of America as the years passed. One has only to peruse contemporary documents like the Port Huron Statement to see where the antiwar Left was coming from. Its puerile critique of America gradually congealed into a bitter hatred of “Amerikka,” as radical New Leftists were pleased to spell their country’s name. It was only a short step from there to active disloyalty, sedition and terrorism.
In a free country, dissent from the policies of the government is a citizen’s right. But the antiwar Left didn’t stop there. Having fashioned a narrative of imperialistic American evil they actively took the enemy’s side in the Vietnam War. Viet Cong flags were waved at antiwar demonstrations. The chant “Ho, Ho, Ho Chi Minh/The NLF is Gonna Win!” was often heard. American military personnel were exhorted to desert and those who did enjoyed the aid and comfort of the Left. All in all, it was an odd way of exhibiting dissent as the highest form of patriotism.
Then the war ended and immediately all the horrific consequences predicted by those denounced by the Left as “warmongers” came to pass. In Vietnam, “liberation” arrived in the form of a ruthless totalitarianism. Hundreds of thousands were summarily executed, hundreds of thousands more were flung into concentration camps, hundreds of thousands more were driven out of their country. In Cambodia, the victorious communists killed two million people. And the Left’s response to this holocaust? Either silence or denial. True, there were some honorable exceptions. Joan Baez spoke out against the tyranny of the conquerors—for which she was roundly denounced by her comrades. There could be no second-guessing of the “national liberation” that had fallen with such a heavy hand on the people of South Vietnam.
The Left’s moral cowardliness, its willful blindness to the consequences of its actions, was in its way a worse crime than any of the terrorist actions undertaken by radical New Left groups like the Weather Underground. But it was necessary in an ideological sense. Forgetfulness enabled the Left to repeat its behavior in later years and particularly in the aftermath of 9/11.
For a brief moment it seemed that many on the Left had been so shocked by the fall of the Twin Towers that they’d support a forceful American response. But with a very few individual exceptions, people on the Left soon regained their ideological balance. Some, like the novelist Barbara Kingsolver, began to fret about displays of the American flag while the fires were still burning at Ground Zero. And when it realized that the Bush Administration actually proposed to take the war to the enemy, the Left chose sides—against America.
Of all the examples of disloyalty, bad faith and sedition on the part of the Left since 9/11, the one that I found most disgusting was its shameful treatment of the men and women who were called upon to bear the burden of the country’s wars. When the Left wasn’t denouncing them as war criminals akin to the Nazi SS, it was patronizing them as hapless, pathetic victims who only joined the service because they couldn’t cut it in civilian life. Even United States Senator Dick Durbin, Democrat of Illinois, stooped to the Nazi comparison. Nor did Democrats in Congress hesitate to denigrate and insult US military commanders, as when then-Senator Hillary Clinton sneered that to believe the General David Petraeus’ congressional testimony would requite “a willing suspension of disbelief.”
Clinton’s insult came in the course of the Left’s attempt to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory via its opposition to the Bush Administration’s surge strategy in Iraq. Once again the Left worked assiduously on many fronts to ensure America’s defeat. And as it tends to do, history repeated itself. Though the surge went forward and turned the war in Iraq around, the 2008 election brought Barack Obama to the White House—and he promptly threw away the victory that so much blood and effort had won. Then with typical impertinence he and the Left congratulated themselves for “ending a war.”
The sequel was eerily reminiscent of Vietnam. Once the Obama Administration had summarily withdrawn American forces from Iraq, thus renouncing all influence in that country, the inevitable happened. Iraq descended into chaos, with a puppet government in Baghdad under the thumb of the Iranian ayatollahs and vast swaths of its territory under the control of the murderous Islamofascist group that calls itself ISIS. And this time silence was not an option. But denial was still possible. It was piously and falsely asserted that Barack Obama and his cabal had nothing whatever to do with the matter. Instead the Left loudly blamed the whole mess on George W. Bush—six years after his departure from office.
The glee with which the Left points to the Iraq debacle—and the coming Afghanistan debacle—shows with crystal clarity where its heart lies: on the side of America’s enemies. Is there a foreign despot or potentate anywhere who is too gruesome for the Left to embrace, so long as he spouts anti-American rhetoric? It seems not. Venezuela’s execrable Hugo Chavez, the Mussolini of Latin America, a man whose depravity was plainly stamped on his face, attracted the plaudits of such luminaries of the Left as Sean Penn and Michael Moore. Even Islamofascist terrorism has its apologists on the Left, e.g. Ben Afflick. All that is necessary to make any foreigner a hero of the American Left is a pro forma denunciation of American “imperialism” or “aggression.” That he might be mustard-gassing his own people in large batches, executing and imprisoning political opponents, and funding terrorism doesn’t really matter.
Nor has the Left hesitated to embrace actual treason. Take the case of Bradley Manning, an American soldier who disgraced his uniform by purloining classified intelligence information and handing it over to the notorious anti-American organization, WikiLeaks. But of course—of course!—Manning is hailed by the Left as a “whistleblower and democracy advocate”! Here at last was someone in uniform whom the Left could respect. (The court was less impressed; in 2013 this miserable wretch was convicted of multiple violations of the Espionage Act and is currently serving a 35-year prison sentence.)
And dissent as the highest form of patriotism? Just try questioning or criticizing Obamacare, illegal immigrants, same-sex marriage, the nuclear deal with Iran, climate-change orthodoxy, etc., etc. You’re sure to be denounced by the Left as a fascist, a racist, a homophobe, an Islamophobe, a warmonger, the equivalent of a Holocaust denier. Point out, for example, that the “culture of rape” on America’s college campuses is a figment of the Left’s imagination and you’ll be reviled as a rapist yourself. Free speech for me but not for thee—that summarizes the American Left’s true position on the First Amendment. Shut up, they explain. And where it has power, for instance on college campuses, the Left makes sure that opponents do shut up.
The record of the Left from the Sixties to now is so thoroughly dishonest and dishonorable that its self-congratulation, its assumption of moral and intellectual superiority, is actually rather comical. There’s something pathetic, after all, about the elevation of a clown like Michael Moore to the pedestal on which the Left has placed him. There’s something funny in a way about the alacrity with which the Left rushes to excuse the most bare-faced Obama lies. There was even something grimly amusing about Jane Fonda’s treasonous jaunt to North Vietnam in 1972, during which she characterized US POWs in the enemy’s hands as “hypocrites and liars.” Yes, the whole thing’s rather laughable—or it would be if it wasn’t so disgusting.
But “dissent is the highest from of patriotism” the American Left insists, in defense of its deplorable behavior. Now there’s a bit of Newspeak to rival “Oldthinkers unbellyfeel Ingsoc.”
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