January 28, 2005

HATE-FILLED STUPIDITY FROM LEFT-LEANING ACADEMICS ISN’T NEWS anymore, which is why I haven’t been paying much attention to the story of Colorado professor Ward Churchill’s comparison of 9/11 victims to Eichmann. But go here and look at the picture.

Isn’t he exactly what you imagined? Shoulder-length hair, grimly self-righteous expression, black turtleneck, Abbie Hoffman sunglasses. A man whose look, like his rhetoric, is frozen in the amber of 1969.

The same kind of guys, looking the same way, were saying the same kinds of things when I was younger than my daughter is now. When will the Left catch up with the times?

UPDATE: Heh. Check out this picture. Let’s do the time warp, again!

ANOTHER UPDATE: Various lefty readers email to say that Ward Churchill is not the authentic face of the Left.

I wish I agreed with that. But, sadly, he is its very image today.

When Ted Kennedy can make an absurd and borderline-traitorous speech on the war, when Michael Moore shares a VIP box with the last Democratic President but one, when Barbara Boxer endorses a Democratic consultant/blogger whose view of American casualties in Iraq is “screw ‘em,” well, this is the authentic face of the Left. Or what remains of it.

There was a time when the Left opposed fascism and supported democracy, when it wasn’t a seething-yet-shrinking mass of self-hatred and idiocy. That day is long past, and the moral and intellectual decay of the Left is far gone.

Don’t believe me? Listen to Naomi Klein:

The great error made during the electoral campaign was that the anti-war movement allowed itself to turn into an anti-Bush movement. So as the logic of anyone-but-Bush set in — and there wasn’t a candidate speaking on these issues — the war itself disappeared. What I mean by that is that the reality of war itself disappeared. The truth is that we were talking about Iraq in the past tense — not about what was happening on the ground during the campaign. And indeed, I believe that continues to be true to a scandalous degree, especially what we’ve just seen in recent months in Iraq. I’m worried that we haven’t learned from that mistake yet.

We also need to more clearly focus on policy demands. I have been arguing for a long time that the anti-war movement should turn itself into a pro-democracy movement, i.e., support the demands for democracy in Iraq. . . .

Quite frankly, there’s a lot of skepticism in Iraq — from what I saw — about the international anti-war movement. In part, it’s because anti-war forces were not critical enough of Saddam. But it’s also because we haven’t proposed this kind of practical solidarity that has to do with improving people’s lives, and not just absolving our conscience. Or saying “Not in our name,” and then going home. . . .

It’s very, very frustrating. What I keep coming across in the U.S. anti-war movement is the acceptance of this idea that Americans are incapable of caring about anyone but themselves. The progressives in the U.S. are fairly self-loathing

And in this, at least, they’re right. Greg Djerejian has more on Churchill:

The relativistic mish-mash and garbage contained above, the laughably simplistic narrative underpinning talk of some nefarious “global financial empire,”–all are shibboleths of 60′s group-think, prevalent among a significant number of baby boomer generation academics, taken to parodic extremes (American capitalism bad, the nefarious “military-industrial” complex a product thereto, anyone working in lower Manhattan near evil Wall Street therefore complicit (part of a nefarious “technocratic corps” with blood on their hands), and thus getting their just deserts (does Ward Churchill even know that the WTC was a ‘back-office’, of sorts, servicing the Gordon Gekko “Master of the Universe” players more likely to work on the 30th floor of 85 Broad or in office buildings lining Park in the high 40s and low 50s?)

But let’s put all this aside. The reason I blogged this tonight, is because, truth be told, these views (if somewhat less extreme manifestations) are much more widespread than we might think. In New York, just a month after 9/11, a leftist female acquaintance of mine (an American!) admitted (with some shame, it should be said) that she felt a tinge of joy in her stomach when she digested the news. America had humiliated so many societies, her thinking went, here’s a comeuppance, of sorts.

Read the whole thing. And read this, from The Belmont Club, too.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Martin Shoemaker emails:

I keep hearing people saying “X is not the authentic face of the left.” Yet I don’t hear them repudiate all of the X’s out there. I don’t hear them stand up and announce that X is wrong. I don’t hear them explaining how they’re going to take the Democrat Party back from the X’s. And I DO hear them defending or excusing all of the X behavior.

If the left/Democrats mean what they say, they have it in their power to stop the decay of the Democrat power. Stand up, speak out, and take the Party back from all the X’s. If they do that, they might win back folks like me. I only reluctantly started calling myself a Republican in the 2004 election, and only then because I didn’t see any Democrats standing up against terror and the divisive folks who abet terror.

Yeah. There’s an endless supply of guys like Churchill. And I’d love to believe that they’re marginal figures. But then I see the embrace of Moore, and the behavior of major Democrats like Boxer and Kennedy, and it’s just hard to believe. There certainly are some well-meaning people on the Left who don’t like that, but I”m afraid that they are the marginal figures nowadays.

Ed Driscoll has further thoughts:

This is a crucial period for the left: they’ve lost two consecutive presidential elections, Congress for a decade, and the Senate for almost as long. They’ve also acted increasingly shabbily in reaction to 9/11, of which Churchill’s (what a paradoxical name for the guy) 3000 “little Eichmanns” quote is merely the latest manifestation. Is there room for a comeback? Only if Hillary runs a brilliant campaign (and even then, she’ll probably have to deal with a Republican Congress and Senate, unless she has very, very long coattails).

Or leftwing elites could try tacking closer to the center.

In the 1950s, Bill Buckley was able to create a new conservatism by casting out the John Birchers and their anti-Semitism and conspiracy theories. Now it’s the left’s turn to try to do much the same.

I wish I saw more evidence of that. On the other hand, this is pretty funny.

On the other hand, Dave Schuler thinks I’m wrong about the Left. I don’t think so, but you can read his post and make up your own mind.

But I suspect that it didn’t even occur to any of the lefties writing to complain about my post to write Prof. Churchill and complain about his remarks. But lefty reader Josh Kinniard writes:

Your largely right on the state of many Americans that supported the Left Wing in the last elections. A large majority of Americans are, simply put, shallow and uninformed. Many people see the faults in George W. Bush, such as his sometimes inability to–as he himself will admit–think on his feet in front of a crowd. They mix these personal attributes they have observed and mix them with unrationally drawn conclusions that are presented to them from other sources without using proper methods of reason–largely because they do not have the resources easily at hand to do anything else.

I voted for John Kerry after proper rationalization. Those of us who did got caught in an election storm where we saw these shallow uninformed joining the
Kerry bandwagon, and we knew their rationalization was wrong, but we were limited to what we could do to stop the tide and educate them. That tide may have cost Kerry the election.

My point: please dont forget those of us that are still active citizens who truly want to participate in the betterment of society.

I haven’t forgotten. But I’m waiting for you to take a more active role in confronting the Ward Churchills — and Michael Moores, and Barbara Boxers — who are doing harm to the country, and even more harm to the Left.

MORE: Dr. Evil is quoted here.

And this review of Steve Earle’s concert in Knoxville — in which he performed before a hammer and sickle — observes:

The Soviet imagery might have seemed corny five years ago, but in the current right-leaning climate, a left-wing backlash is inevitable. Expect to see more of it.

If Kerry had won, would it be understandable for Republican artists to perform in front of swastikas? And how seriously should we take people who wish we had lost the Cold War, and who want us to lose this one?

Still more on Churchill here. And perhaps the best take comes from reader Harvey Schneider:

The irony of the Churchill episode is that Colorado University gets federal money. You would think with his radical Anti-American outlook, The money he makes as an instructor would burn in his hands like Holy Water in a demons hands. He seems to be guilty of the same crime as many in the WTC that day. Being a part of the system.

Heh. And for those who email saying “what about Falwell on the right,” well, it’s worth remembering that the term “idiotarian” was coined with Falwell in mind. It’s just that the right has done a better job of muzzling and marginalizing its idiots, while the Left has embraced them. And if the “backlash” theory set out above is true, it will only get worse, which is bad for the Left, and bad for America.

Oliver Willis emails that my pointing this out is “vitriol.” But in fact, following my advice would be likely to help the Left, and the Democrats, do better in elections. Baby-boomer posturing didn’t even help the Democrats 30 years ago (remember who won by a landslide in 1972). It’s not likely to help much now.

I keep hearing that there’s a silent majority on the Left that doesn’t agree with these things. I keep waiting for it to stop being silent. Perhaps they should listen to this Iraqi reaction to Ted Kennedy’s speech:

I think that AlZarqawy could not have rallied his troops with a better speech. What is he doing giving speeches like this so close to the elections in Iraq? Iraqis will brave threats to their lives to vote in hope that we will stay with them till they are ready. Now a U.S. senator tells them we must pull out quickly and leave the Iraqis with no help.

Shameful.