Saturday, June 20, 2009

They’re Older and Wiser and that’s Why They are Turning Us In

By Barry Rubin

Many years ago, the singer-songwriter Phil Ochs wrote:

“Sure, once I was young and impulsive,
I wore every conceivable pin.
Even went to socialist meetings,
learned all the old union hymns.
Ah, but I've grown older and wiser
and that's why I'm turning you in.
So love me, love me, love me, I'm a liberal.”

Ochs meant the song to ridicule the liberals who supported civil rights and supported the Kennedys but actually had the temerity to think that Communism was bad.

But now these lyrics have a different meaning. The dominant social, intellectual, and political force in America and Europe today is a left that has hijacked liberalism. They’ve even elected a president of the United States who is one of them.

This movement’s background includes: the glorification of 1968 youth revolts, a hatred of repressive dictatorships and those who rationalize working with them, and repulsion at reactionary religious dogmas, among other things.

Why then is this the very movement and leadership so reluctant to support the youth-led revolt in Iran, keeps finding rationales to apologize for a religious-dominated dictatorship in Tehran, and treats those who oppose radical right-wing Islamist movements (like Hamas and Hizballah) the same way they treated those who opposed left-wing Communist movements?

I guess the only answer is that they’ve grown older and wiser so they are turning in those who don’t want to live under Islamist dictators or be murdered by clerical-fascist terrorists, including liberal democratic Israel, liberal democratic-minded Arabs, and democracy-demanding Iranians.

Paris 1968. Yeah! Cheer! Brave young people battling the evil tyrannical, um...French government?

Tehran 2009. Go away and let us make a deal with the tyrants.

Beirut, 2009. All we are saying is...give Hizballah a chance.

Ochs also wrote these appropriate words for our time, too:

“When the fascists started marching many millions had to pay;
We saw them rise to power but we looked the other way.
It happened once before and it can happen once again….”

That was before, however, a bold new idea was invented to justify looking the other way:

They're not fascists and reactionaries, they’re just expressing their different cultural and religious traditions.

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