One reason I’ve been pushed toward, but not all the way into, the right since 911 is because it sometimes seems like conservatives and Independents are the only ones I can relate to anymore. Nevermind that I don’t sign off onto all their opinions. No one agrees with me about everything, and I don’t expect anyone to. So it’s a nice treat to find Kerry-supporting Democrats like Tom Frank at The New Republic who really know where I’m coming from, not just intellectually, but on a gut level.
This band of socialists was the most effective recruiting tool for the Republican Party I’d ever encountered.
To begin with, there were the posters on the wall: MONEY FOR JOBS AND EDUCATION, NOT FOR WAR AND OCCUPATION. Let’s leave aside that the meter is somehow dissatisfying (nine syllables followed by eight–no flow at all). The main point is, if the shallowness of this statement bothers you, to what party do you look for comfort? To the Democrats, many of whom condemn building firehouses in Baghdad and closing firehouses at home? Or do you say to yourself, in that moment, “I don’t much care for Newt Gingrich–nor does anyone else–but I bet he hates that goddamn poster as much as I do”? I know where I was leaning.
Then there was the pooh-poohing of elections–any elections. Former soldier Stan Goff (supposedly of the Delta Force, Rangers, and Special Forces) spoke at length about the evils of capitalism and declared, “We ain’t never resolved nothing through an election.” This drew loud, sustained applause. Nothing to get worked up about, I thought; just a leftist speaker spouting lunacy. But today it seemed particularly bad. It wasn’t just that I was missing what might be lovely canapés (or perhaps spring rolls being brought about on trays with delectable dipping sauce); rather, it was the thought that the speaker was dismissing something that Afghanis of all ages had recently risked their lives to participate in, something Iraq’s insurgents view as so transformative that they are murdering scores of Iraqis to prevent it. No, what I needed to counter this speaker was not a Democrat like me who might argue that elections were, in fact, important. What I needed was a Republican like Arnold who would walk up to him and punch him in the face.
But the worst came with the final speaker, a woman by the name of Sherry Wolf, who is supposedly on the “editorial board of International Socialist Review.” She talked, and talked, and talked; terms like “architects of the slaughter,” “war criminal,” and “Noam Chomsky” wafted about the room; and my eyes grew so bleary that I ceased taking notes. But then she brought up the insurgents in Iraq. Sure they were bad, she admitted: “No one cheers the beheading of journalists.” But, she continued, they had a “right” to rebel against occupation. Then she read from a speech by the activist Arundhati Roy: “Of course, [the Iraqi resistance] is riddled with opportunism, local rivalry, demagoguery, and criminality. But if we were to only support pristine movements, then no resistance will be worthy of our purity.” In sum, Wolf said, the choice boiled down to supporting occupation or resistance, and we had to support resistance.
So there it was. I even forgot about the Constitution Ball for a minute. Apparently, we were to view the people who set off bombs killing over 150 peaceful Shia worshippers in Baghdad and Karbala as “resistance” fighters. And the audience seemed entirely fine with this. These weren’t harmless lefties. I didn’t want Nancy Pelosi talking sense to them; I wanted John Ashcroft to come busting through the wall with a submachine gun to round everyone up for an immediate trip to Gitmo, with Charles Graner on hand for interrogation.
Very good, comrade. Welcome to the non-partisan, equal-opportunity, big-tent Militant Middle.