Sunday, September 05, 2004

Lefty Blog

I had a friend in high school who was into all the lefty causes of the late eighties. He bought crappy Greenpeace albums, spoke of his hatred of the death penalty (which even the Dems don't do anymore), etc. He was kept on the right side of the fence because he was fervently pro-life (which, to his credit, he was known to attend rallies).

After high school, he went off to college and got some sort of English/communications/linguistic/journalism degree and became a professor. Of course, you see where this was going; I figured it'd only be a matter of time before he surrendered his last moral objection to liberalism and went over to the dark side. Not everyone can be a Mr. Kendall and keep the collegiate brainwashing in check.

Well, it turns out he now has a blog. I knew going into this that it was going to be left of center, and I'm hoping for a trough of well thought out lefty ideas (if such a thing can even exist). He starts out of the gate, however, with a couple tRusty topics:

  1. Bush Lied. About what, he doesn't mention. I'd hate to think that he's trotting out that tired WMD argument after the Senate report vindicated Bush and Kerry himself severed his ties to Joe 'Yellowcake' Wilson.
  2. He goes to a great length to defend a Muslim scholar who questioned the idea that Bin Laden was behind the 9/11 attacks. Maybe he can let me know why the left goes to bat for these religious wackjobs, especially after the vehemence they level against Christians. Mr. Kendall seemed to think that the left's love of victim groups was a cause. VDH thinks it's because Islamic fundamentalism offers that last hope of some form of vastly implemented big state government a'la Communism. I myself figured it's because of the Anti-American tendencies of of both groups (the enemy of my enemy....). Even after all that though, I scratch my head as to why the left would join their rig to such a dilapidated truck.
  3. He defends Michael Moore. 'Roger and Me' was 15 years ago, and not all that great, get over it. He fails to note how being a wealthy champion for elitist liberal opinion does not make one a symbol of wealthy liberal elitism. (Never mind the fact that the man was never blue collar, it's an irrelevant fact all around).

Moreover, his topics exemplify the obsession of the left with any perceived hypocrisy of the right instead of the actual topics of the day. It's not about the propaganda and lies passed on by Michael Moore, it's about how much money a year the person criticizing him makes. It's not about protecting the U.S. from Islam-o-fascists; it's about whether or not said wackjobs get treated the same as Jewish fundamentalists at the airport gate. It's not about whether or not it was good to get rid of Saddam; it's whether or not Bush knowingly passed on bad intel. It's not about how great of a president Kerry would be; it's whether or not he's George Bush.


bdegenaro said...

Next time don't hold back.

Greenpeace compilation albums...crappy? Really?Cuts by Pretenders, World Party, Lou Reed, U2. A treasure trove of 80s guitar rock, I'd say.

The abortion issue as a factor in deciding which presidential candidate to vote for makes no sense. Right now the right controls all three branches of the federal government and abortion is safe and legal. I suspect that if we elected as president (or, as is their wont, the Supreme Court appointed as president) the provost of Bob Jones University that abortion would remain safe and legal.

Bush's dubious record with truth-telling...where to begin? He promised not to engage in nation-building. He told congress that Iraq has nuclear capabilities. He continues to imply a connection between Iraq and 9/11. He ran for the office on a 'small government' and 'fiscal responsibility' platform yet has created new government bureaucracies and run up record-high deficit.

Tariq Ramadan routinely ends up on lists ranking the most influential and important thinkers in the world. His ideology is by all reliable accounts moderate. Many Islamic fundamentalists consider him a sell-out because of these moderate views. The international Israeli press has praised Ramadan for his opposition to European anti-semitism. He's urged Islamic groups worldwide to condemn 9/11. In the days after 9/11, he said that bin Laden was likely responsible for the attacks but that questions remained about the details of the plot--he never denied bin Laden's involvement. He's been attacked by well-funded right-wing groups in the U.S. for de-contextualized snippets of information. The French press attributed the word "intervention" to Ramadan, for example, in a poor translation of an interview--making it appear that Ramadan was calling terrorist attacks in Europe "interventions." The right siezed this piece of misinformation and said: 'see, he's an apologist for terrorism--he considers acts of barabrism to be acts of intervention.' The guy never used the word! To my knowledge, he's never bashed Christians. He's a philosopher of western religions so it's likely you could take pieces of his scholarly writing out of context and make them appear to be attacks on Christians.

I'm not sure how to respond to the philsophical question about why liberals attach themselves to nutjobs. I guess I'd reject the premise on which the question is based. As an academic and as a writer and as an active citizen, I try to understand context--even for something as horrific as 9/11. Under PatriotAct-esque legislation (again, whither small government?!), looking for context has been demonized and even criminalized. Curbing the scholarly pursuit and denying funding, for example, of international studies programs seems unebelievably wrong-headed. It's not anti-American to try to understand context. We should be encouraging inquiry among a diverse array of thinkers (including--or even especially--among scholars of Islamic thought and philosophy). We should be trying to understand what breeds hatred and how a peace-loving, mainstream religion like Islam gets twisted by fascists. Now more than ever.

Are you saying that Michael Moore's cultural moment was 15 years ago, circa Roger&Me? In the last two years he's had two books on the NYTimes best-seller list, won an academy award, TWICE broken the record for most successful non-fiction film in cinematic history, been referred to from the podiums at both national nominating conventions, and graced the covers of most major news AND entertainment magazines. You might think he's off-based in his interpretations of national and international events, but to say his defining cultural moment was 1989 doesn't quite pass muster. Defininitions become shaky when discussing such things, but I'd consider the son of a steel-worker who's experienced long patches of un/under-employment to be "blue collar." He's certainly a symbol of wealth--at least to the degree that he's attained lots of wealth. The "liberal-elitism" badge seems like a conflation of differing concepts, though. Is he a "liberal elitist"? Well, he's a left-leaning guy. And then's he's also a rich guy. Is there such a thing as a "conservative elitist"? Bush Sr.--who I made reference to for suggesting that Jimmy Carter and Michael Moore typify elitism--famously had no idea how much a gallon of milk cost during the 92 campaign...some would say that constitutes a form of "elitism." Setting exclusionary public policy (breaking up labor unions, subsidizing corporations that pull out of the U.S., etc.) strikes me as a form of elitism, so in that respect I could see the term "conservative elitist" signifying some distinct group--but I'd probably take care to qualify just what I meant by the term. The term "liberal elitism" makes less sense to me. I'm not sure in what ways the political persuasion and socio-economic status of, say, Barbara Streisand or Bruce Springsteen, unite to form a coherent identity marker. Enlighten me. I can see how they're "liberal": they vote for democrats and sometimes speak out in favor of lefty causes. Gotcha. I can also see how they're "elitist": they have lots of money. But how are they "liberal elitists"?

Evil Sandmich said...

I hope to address your concerns more fully later (At the moment, I don't want to spend time linking to three dozen articles to back up my points, so I made my article rather vague).

The one point I may have muddled is the fact that the left gets in bed in defending even the most vile of Arab leaders and Islamofacists ('Baghdad' Jim McDermott anyone?), while at the same time the left sees no problem in vilifying even the most moderate of Christians.