Freedom on the March? No Thanks to the American Left

American leftists often seem to be on the hard side of the debate.

After investing so much in its accommodation, leftists struggled for rationale when the old Soviet bloc crumbled in the early 1990s. The recent and continuing collapse of the Mideast's dictatorships exposes a similar trend. For 30 years, the left appeared to ignore human rights violations across the region -- with the exception of Israel or actions by the United States. Now?

Start with Muammar Gaddafi’s dictatorship in Libya, where hundreds of Libyan protesters,  if not thousands, have been mowed down by Gaddafi’s henchmen. For decades, those on the left have been both indirectly and directly supportive of Gaddafi’s rule -- sometimes even profiting by their association.

Whatever “good intentions” they might have had do not matter -- as Jesse Jackson's history with the regime makes clear. One can grant that Jackson’s intentions were pure or that he was merely short-sighted when, in 1981, he accepted $100,000 for his PUSH Foundation from the Arab League, a 21-country coalition that includes Libya. But after denying the connection, Jackson only made the admission to The New York Times through his legal and financial advisor John H. Bustamante.

Bustamante admitted Jackson’s group had “solicited and asked for” funds from several states -- including Libya. That's not a crime; but if one must reach out to nefarious characters to fund one's “good intentions,” shouldn’t one either wonder about the ulterior motives of these bad actors or of the “goodness” of their own intent?

That is the part of the association between Jackson and Libya that we know about. Given his reticence to admit this much, is there more?

Next, consider the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC), a group dominated by some of the most radically left individuals in the U.S. Congress.

On Libya, the CBC has been silent with regard to both the abuses of Gaddafi’s dictatorship in Libya and the undemocratic fashion of his dictatorial rule in general. Highlighted among the CBC is Congressman Earl Hilliard (D-AL), who voyaged to Libya during the ‘90s courtesy of a Tunisian businessman. Among other things, Congressman Hilliard’s trip resulted in silence about the brutality in both Tunisia -- the match-point for the Arab revolutions -- and Libya.

To be sure, Western governments had generally been silent about Tunisia President Ben Ali's repression of press freedom and other human rights. Tunisia's role as a regional ally and model for economic development frequently minimized the government's human-rights abuses. But as part of a congressional delegation to Tunis, Hilliard went so far as to call Ali a statesman who had "done a tremendous job in Tunisia and who is well respected back home as well as here in the Arab world." Really? Is the congressman available today to repeat and reemphasize such remarks?