Imagine if a major American newspaper had marked the twentieth anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attack by publishing an op-ed by an American who had betrayed his country and gone to fight for the Japanese Empire during World War II. And imagine if this op-ed harshly criticized American practices in a notorious prison camp as an “obscene mockery of justice.” In December 1961, such an op-ed would have gotten the newspaper that printed it universally condemned. The newspaper would have lost readers by the thousands. But for the Left today, to publish such an op-ed is just another day at work.
On the twentieth anniversary of the 9/11 jihad attacks that murdered 2,977 people, The Intercept published an op-ed entitled “The Guantánamo Bay Internment Camp Is an Unresolved Vestige of the American Occupation of Afghanistan,” which takes a great many words to say that Guantánamo is a place where jihadis have been and continue to be unjustly treated, and should be shut down. The author is identified as a certain “Yahya Lindh,” whose author bio identifies him as “a writer, translator, and former prisoner of war. He is originally from Washington, D.C., and is currently based elsewhere in the Americas.” Lindh further identifies himself early on in his piece with this slyly understated sentence: “During the summer and fall of 2001, I served as a Taliban infantryman in northern Afghanistan.”
Well, yes, he did, but he doesn’t mention that he was an American convert to Islam who has never expressed any remorse for joining military forces fighting against the troops of his own country. Yahya Lindh is none other than John Walker Lindh, who was dubbed the “American Taliban” and “Marin County Mujahid” when he was discovered in November 2001 fighting alongside the Taliban against American troops in Afghanistan.
The absurdity of it all overwhelmed the seriousness of the whole affair from the beginning. The 43rd president, George H.W. Bush, the father of the occupant of the White House at that time, sneered that Lindh was just “some misguided Marin county hot-tubber,” which so enraged Marin County residents that Bush wrote a full tongue-in-cheek mea culpa to the Marin paper: “Call off the dogs, please. I surrender. I apologize. I am chastened and will never use ‘hot tub’ and ‘Marin county’ in the same sentence again.”
Bush’s quip and the resulting furor summed up how seriously John Walker Lindh was generally regarded. That a comfortable middle-class American would wind up his spiritual searching by joining the Taliban was dismissed as the act of a freak, not an indication of a deep malady in the American soul. And charging Lindh with treason, despite the fact that he quite clearly was caught in the act of giving aid and comfort to the enemy, doesn’t appear to have been even seriously contemplated. Instead, Lindh plea-bargained down to a couple of charges to which he pleaded guilty, explaining: “I plead guilty. I provided my services as a soldier to the Taliban last year from about August to December. In the course of doing so, I carried a rifle and two grenades. I did so knowingly and willingly — knowing that it was illegal.”
That was all. He went to prison in 2003 with a twenty-year sentence and was released early, in 2019, on good behavior. Now he is on the path to becoming a respected and in-demand Leftist pundit. After all, few can match his record: Leftist publications are full of the driveling of dweebs who hate America, but how many can match Lindh’s boast of actually having taken up arms against The Great Satan and done what he could to stem the tide of global American imperialism? The fact that The Intercept would publish the unrepentant Lindh, with evident pride, and on the twentieth anniversary of 9/11 no less, is a telling indication of just how much anti-Americanism has become mainstream on the Left today.
Vanessa Gezari, The Intercept’s national security editor, tweeted happily about the Lindh op-ed: “A perspective you won’t read anywhere else — and an editing experience I’ll never forget. By war on terror Detainee 001, now known as Yahya Lindh, who has served his time and has a critical message for America.”
Actually, Lindh offers a perspective that you’ll read everywhere else, in every Leftist publication: America is an oppressor, and Gitmo is a concentration camp. “The conflict in Afghanistan will not be fully resolved until the issue of prisoners of war has been justly settled. All remaining detainees must be set free,” writes Lindh. Did he know or care at the time of his writing that the new Afghan government is made up of several former Guantánamo detainees who returned to the jihad? If he did know, he was likely cheering.
The Intercept is not likely to be singular in this. Watch for other publications to feature Lindh’s writings, and for him to become a regular on the Leftist speaker circuit, appearing at conferences seated on the dais next to the likes of Reza Aslan and Mehdi Hasan. The American Left’s orgy of cultural and civilizational self-hatred will make Yahya Lindh a star. If, that is, it survives its own suicidal impulses long enough to feature him in its comfortable salons before the people it has incited burn them down.