October 13, 2005

Tip: Don't wear your Magen David to the peace march...

Nick Cohen, in the New Statesman...

...Be careful, I said. Saddam Hussein's Iraq has spewed out predatory armies and corpses for decades. If you're going to advocate a policy that would keep a fascist dictator in power, you should at least talk to his victims, whose number included socialists, communists and liberals - good people, rather like you.

Next day I looked at my e-mails. There were rather a lot of them. The first was a fan letter from Ann Leslie, the Daily Mail's chief foreign correspondent, who had seen the barbarism of Ba'athism close up. Her cheery note ended with a warning: “You’re not going to believe the anti-Semitism that is about to hit you.” “Don’t be silly, Ann,” I replied. “There’s no racism on the left.” I worked my way through the rest of the e-mails. I couldn’t believe the anti-Semitism that hit me.

I learned it was one thing being called “Cohen” if you went along with liberal orthodoxy, quite another when you pointed out liberal betrayals. Your argument could not be debated on its merits. There had to be a malign motive. You had to support Ariel Sharon. You had to be in the pay of “international” media moguls or neoconservatives. You had to have bad blood. You had to be a Jew.

My first reaction was so ignoble I blush when I think of it. I typed out a reply that read, “but there hasn’t been a Jewish member of my family for 100 years”. I sounded like a German begging a Gestapo officer to see the mistake in the paperwork. Mercifully, I hit the “delete” button before sending....

One sees these "wake up" articles by liberals fairly often. "Mugged by reality," eh Nick? Will he change? Will he rummage his beliefs, and scrutinize the fact that he's allied with Saddam, and find something rotten in Denmark? Will he go back to first principles?

My guess, no. To stay a liberal this long, you have to be very good at ignoring or papering-over ugly realities. Most of the people who are capable of change already did so. They are called neocons.

Posted by John Weidner at October 13, 2005 7:58 AM
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