The asinine commentary issuing from some leftist quarters, the wild-conspiratorial ramblings, the incapacity to handle dilemmas — all of this would be amusing if it weren’t for the slanders and falsehoods which have so quickly ossified into conventional wisdom. Over half a century after Richard Hofstadter wrote his famous essay it appears the paranoid style still thrives in the politics of both the left and right. The western leftists’ answer to liberation struggles elsewhere is to project their own impotence and assume that there must be a grand conspiracy at play. How else could ordinary people take charge of their own lives and refuse to be silenced and repressed? No, they must be Al Qaeda, or CIA agents, or both — as figures such as Alexander Cockburn, Edward Herman and John Pilger have imperiously declared (relying on a report by West Point’s Counter Terrorism Center no less–never mind that it is a dubious outfit run by neoconservative terrorologists). What better way to divest yourself of moral dilemmas? Blame the victims!
There is a good reason why radicals of the left often find it so easy to turn into radicals of the right. Both are possessed of a Manichean worldview governed by absolutes, free of moral dilemmas, disdainful of ambiguity. This kind of simple-mindedness is the prerogative of those who are either completely powerless and thus free of responsibility, since their actions are of no consequence, or of the absolutely powerful, whose actions are beyond accountability. The rest of us, alas, are doomed to a world where the choices are rarely as simple as between ‘good’ and ‘bad.’
Jeffrey Blankfort has some apt comments:
Also, check out Stephen Shalom’s commentary on Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah’s speech on Libya.