Skip to comments.A Vengeful Hobgoblin
Posted on 03/21/2003 9:14:52 AM PST by fporretto
Don't call them principled. They're not. And don't call them ideologues. They wouldn't know an ideology from a par-boiled turnip.
They protest. They demonstrate. They've disrupted metropolitan traffic in Boston, San Francisco, and several other cities. A few have engaged in violent vandalism against others' property. But they have yet to articulate precisely why the American campaign against Saddam Hussein and his Baathist dictatorship has them so exercised -- unless we accept "we don't like it" as the response.
Most people, be it frankly said, aren't all that good with abstractions and reasoning. Most of our actions are propelled by habits and routines. Most of our beliefs are either inheritances from our parents and educators, or the fruits of revulsions or sympathies about which we're essentially unable to think. It's a rare man who practices a thoroughgoing rationality about his convictions, his decisions, and his attitudes toward the convictions and decisions of others.
Still, when we talk about justice -- about right and wrong and what should be done about them -- we have to work from a common set of definitions. Those definitions must partition the universe of actions, according to some objective, categorical discriminant.
A number of commentators have already noted that the anti-war protestors currently afflicting our streets were completely silent when Bill Clinton struck Iraq, struck Sudan, and struck the Serbs in Bosnia. Those actions apparently received their tacit approval. What distinguished them from the campaign to liberate Iraq, apart from the identity and political alignment of the man who ordered them?
This sort of incoherence is a regular thing on the Left these days. In part it's a fruit of the phenomenon Frederic Crews called "Left Eclecticism": the Left's penchant for adopting any "cause" opposed to America's traditions of freedom, justice and free enterprise as part of its crusade. Once we remove the anti-American commonality, no other unifying theme remains.
Even more puzzling, leftist campaigns often must strain to overlook the very thing they protest as practiced by their political mascots. While leftists in this country rant about having been "silenced" by pro-war forces, Fidel Castro has just imprisoned a large number of reporters for pro-American reporting, and is trying to expel an American diplomat from Cuba for the grave sin of traveling about the country and talking to a number of Cubans. And of course, Saddam Hussein is so famously tolerant of dissent that, during the most recent Iraqi "election," his secret police rounded up his opponents, dragged them to the polls, and compelled them to vote for him at gunpoint. Granted, inasmuch as Saddam's name was the only one on the ballot, once you were there, there wasn't much else to do.
Similarly, they who denounce American "unilateralism" -- the anti-Saddam coalition is now at 30 participating countries and 15 others who have expressed unconditional approval -- had no problem with the recent French military intervention in the Ivory Coast.
This isn't new, of course. The Left had little to say about the massacres in Communist Cambodia or Vietnam, after the American withdrawal there; it was too busy condemning "repression" here in the United States. The Left had little to say about the environmental devastation wrought by the Communist government of the Soviet Union; it was too busy decrying the private automobile here in the United States. The Left has yet to say anything about the horrifying treatment of women in Islamic states; it's too busy raving that American women are "enslaved by the white male capitalist patriarchy" because some of them have to pay for their own abortions.
Two things about this utter lack of consistency, this absence of anything even resembling a principle, are particularly notable.
First, a rational mind seldom acquires leftist politics through study and reflection. Rather, they are transmitted, by social pressure and indoctrination, from current holders to vulnerable others under their influence. It can't be any other way. That which is counter-rational will not take root in a healthy mind through healthy processes. It has to be implanted by indoctrination, and protected against evidence and counter-argument by a fortress-culture that punishes dissent from its doctrines. But this implies that the Left's bastions -- the universities, the Old Media, and the entertainment industry -- are the only places where its doctrines will flourish. If they fall, its influence will dwindle and fail.
Second, the American political dialogue is largely about the "undecided middle," the fifteen to twenty percent of the electorate that doesn't hold a strong affiliation to either the Left or the Right. Most politicking is an attempt to sway those voters. What sways them most effectively has always been consistency around a concise, clearly articulated set of principles. Leaders who speak without equivocation, and who follow through on their words with deeds that plainly confirm that they meant what they said, have always held far more appeal for the middle-grounders than the murky-motived types who constantly phrase their emissions in ambiguous terms and strive forever after to "parse" them according to what they think the current audience currently wants to hear.
Ronald Reagan defeated Jimmy Carter with clarity, and went on to defeat Walter Mondale with results. George Bush the Elder lost to Bill Clinton because no one could take him at his word after his reversal of his no-new-taxes pledge.
Though Emerson has said that a foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, consistency around principles is the most powerful political weapon available in a democratic order. Leftists' rejection of consistency as incompatible with its hodge-podge, anti-American agenda will invoke the wrath of that hobgoblin. They won't like the results.
Liberals complained that we walked away from Afghanistan after the Soviets left. So Bush is willing to stay afterwards, stabilize Iraq and rebuild the country - and now liberals complain about the cost.
Liberals complained that sanctions are killing thousands of Iraqi children. So Bush is ending the regime that takes the UN oil-for-food money and builds palaces and weapons - and the liberals now demand that sanctions be given more time to work.
Liberals complained that we're only going into Iraq for the oil. So Bush and Blair are willing to let the UN administer the Iraqi oil revenues - but the "No Blood for Oil" signs persist.
So, in other words, the conduct of this war eliminates many of the old liberal complaints about the use of American power - yet the protests continue and the shrill rhetoric rises to a fever pitch. So what, then, is the actual problem with this intervention? Why does Mike Farrell, who supported the Kosovo intervention where Clinton took one side in a low-grade civil conflict and made matters worse, now vehemently oppose Bush and action against a dictator Ferrell himself acknowledges to be horrific? Why was action against Kosovo and Iraq by Clinton acceptable to the left, without UN Security Council resolutions, but Bush has failed at diplomacy when he attacks an enemy over the threat of a French veto of ANY possible course of action save capitulation to Saddam?
The answer is simple - the liberals simply cannot stand America using military force to promote its own interests, and will simply come up with a new list of complaints when the old ones are satisfied by the current plan of action - and then complain that the Bush Administration does not listen to what they are saying, so they can maintain their sense of righteous indignance to an American government who does not listen to their demands, primarily by constantly changing those demands.
They're so narcissistic and convinced of their own importance that they don't even realize the damage they're doing to their own cause.
Indeed! I'm frequently torn between the temptation to burst their bubbles by drawing that to their attention in public, and the secret satisfaction that comes from knowing that every inanity and venomous snarl they emit actually contributes to their defeat. Decisions, decisions...
Freedom, Wealth, and Peace,
Francis W. Porretto
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I believe that it was Ann Coultor who said that leftists only oppose wars that are in the interest of the US, and they support war where there is none.