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February 18, 2003
How far are the "peace" crowd prepared to go? Well, they've stopped talking about their little pet cause of the Nineties, East Timor, ever since the guys who blew up that Bali nightclub and whoever's putting together those "Osama" audio tapes started listing support for East Timor's independence as one of the Islamist grievances against the West. But why be surprised? In fall 2001, being pro-gay and pro-feminist didn't stop the left defending an Afghan regime that disenfranchised women and executed homosexuals. Yet these are the same fellows who insist that a secular regime like Iraq's would never make common cause with Islamic fundamentalists, apparently requiring a higher degree of intellectual coherence of Saddam than of themselves.
Read it all.
UPDATE: A couple of people have emailed me to point out that the left opposed the Taliban in the 1990s. But -- as I think the paragraph above makes clear -- that's not Steyn's point. His point is that the left largely stopped being exercised about the Taliban once it looked as if the United States was going to war against them.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Todd Morman sends this link as evidence that Steyn is wrong. But I don't think it supports his thesis. The title, "Feminists agonize over war in Afghanistan," kind of makes my point. Yes, Eleanor Smeal is quoted as saying the Taliban deserve what they get. But the thesis of the article is that "many women are unwilling to translate their opposition to the Taliban into support for war." And that's Steyn's point. Kvetching and condemning from the sidelines is one thing -- but supporting the United States in a war is just too much. For everyone? No. But for most of the self-described "progressive left?" Oh, yeah. Way too much. (And note the split between the "progressives" and actual Afghan women.)
ANOTHER UPDATE: SKBubba emails:
I don't think the assertion that "the left largely stopped being exercised about the Taliban once it looked as if the United States was going to war against them" is entirely accurate.
I was 100% on board. My flag flew over my mailbox every day of the operations (like that helped, but enlistment probably isn't an option for an old fart like me, especially given the shape I'm in).
My only complaints were that we waited as long as we did and that we didn't drop some tactial nukes on a couple of their caveman hideouts. That would have sent a very large message without causing too much damage to civilized people. Not to mention that we might have gotten OBL.
If SKBubba represented the Left, I'd be a lot happier with the Left. But his suggestion that there are "civilized people" on the one hand, and people who deserve to be nuked on the other, pretty clearly puts him beyond that particular Pale. Which is the problem.