Thursday, August 04, 2005

Blame The Left Sweepstakes

I expect to hear blame the left finger pointing for society's ills from right wing nuts such as Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA.) Take for example what he said on a recent media appearance:
I don't believe that people should be free to do what pleases them the most. That's the difference between the right and the left. The liberal agenda is "I should be able to do whatever I want to do as long as no one gets hurt"...That is not the kind of freedom our founders envisioned...It is harming America. Look at the rampant rate of divorce brought to us by the left.
Not only is this a gross generalization that is just silly in its sweeping blame, but it ignores inconvenient facts that show that the highest divorce rate in the nation happens to occur in the Bible Belt...yes, that bastion of liberalism.

But I do not expect such anti-left rhetoric to come from the New York Times editorial page. Yes David Brooks is a conservative but I always thought he veered leftward of his nuttier brethren and didn't engage in the unproductive blame the left hate mongering that is so prominent on the right. But alas, his editorial today would seem to blame the left for terrorism.

It starts out reasonably enough, redefining our common conception of the terrorists that we are engaged in war against. For example, he cites interesting statistics:
...about 75 percent of anti-Western terrorists come from middle-class or upper-middle-class homes. An amazing 65 percent have gone to college, and three-quarters have professional or semiprofessional jobs, particularly in engineering and science.

This is counter to the cliche that
terrorists emerge from cultures that are isolated from the Enlightenment ideas of the West. They feel disoriented by the pluralism of the modern age and humiliated by the relative backwardness of the Arab world. They are trapped in stagnant, dysfunctional regimes, amid mass unemployment, with little hope of leading productive lives.
This phenomenon was portrayed interestingly on last night's episode of "Over There," in which the insurgent leaders are shown as educated, multilingual radicals dressed in "white shirts and chinos." In fact, the upper middle class look of the driver and passenger of a suspicious car that approaches a US manned checkpoint is what leads one soldier of Middle Eastern descent to conclude that they are in fact insurgents. He likens the jihadists to being a hippie in 1969 and hearing about Woodstock -- this is the event of their lifetimes they wouldn't miss for the world.

But Brooks takes the conversation in a strange direction.
In his new book "Globalized Islam," the French scholar Olivier Roy points out that today's jihadists have a lot in common with the left-wing extremists of the 1930's and 1960's. Ideologically, Islamic neofundamentalism occupies the same militant space that was once occupied by Marxism. It draws the same sorts of recruits (educated second-generation immigrants, for example), uses some of the same symbols and vilifies some of the same enemies (imperialism and capitalism).

A conservative will only stoop to siding with a Frenchman if it means blaming the left for something, eh? Now I'm certainly not saying that as a liberal I side with or relate to Marxism, although some on the right would say they are one in the same, but certainly the anti-globalist movement is on the left extreme of the US political spectrum and the likening of them to modern terrorists is just another attempt to portray the left as anti-American and aligned with the enemy. But the comparison is disingenuous at best. As DailyKos's Armando correctly points out:
Liberals believe in women's rights, civil rights generally, voting rights and, as the Extreme Right loudly states, secularism. The terrorists abhor civil rights, voting rights, women's rights and secularism.
Alas the views of our enemy are more consistent with those of the far right in this country -- the extreme faction that is pursuing a rollback in our freedoms and the destruction of the separation of church and state.


Post a Comment

<< Home