Left in Dark Times
by Lorna Salzman
Bernard-Henri Levy chose this book title not as a farewell but a eulogy to the French and European left, which, as he admirably recounts, is now repeating its earlier egregious error of ignoring the crimes of Stalin and the Soviet Union. The French philosopher Pascal Bruckner has also written eloquently and powerfully about the moral capitulation of the left in Europe. In this country, except for Christopher Hitchens, we still have not seen their equal in the intellectual or political communities. The timidity of progressives is reprehensible.
Levi has not departed from the ranks of the leftists, and like a few others today, regards himself as a truer leftist than those who still embrace post-modern Political Correctness, cultural relativism and the mandatory revulsion at the United States. His closest political allies end up being those usually associated with the right, which alone has taken on the task of confronting what he calls "Fascislam". It is a sad fact to acknowledge that the defense of Enlightenment values and human rights comes today only from the right.
Contrary to the leftist notion of cultural relativism, moral philosophers, ethicists and political theorists do not appear to dispute the existence of universal moral principles. Religions have always asserted these but only as a means of social domination and retention of power. What are these principles?
Putting aside ecological integrity for now, I believe they boil down into four categories: universal human rights; respect for international law; an accessible equitable justice system; non-violence except in the case of self-defense. Few countries, if any, can be said to possess or observe these to a satisfactory degree, but there is little doubt that some countries come closer than others, especially with regard to the treatment of their own citizens (as opposed to foreign countries). This distinction is one that Noam Chomsky chooses to ignore and the American left has dutifully parroted his views.
In the case of the USA, and most of western Europe, and the British Commonwealth, the existence of one or more of these characteristics makes possible the existence or potential existence of the others. The American Constitution and its Bill of Rights, the Enlightenment, the advance of scientific inquiry and rationalism, the separation of religion from public life, accompanied by a sturdy legal system, have allowed western Europe and the USA to achieve a level of social and economic development unknown in most of the world. Whatever imperfections and malfunctions exist, they have not yet substantially weakened society. In fact, the continued emigration of foreigners from Asia, Africa, the middle east and Latin America to this country belies the leftist propaganda today, which persists in its absurd accusation that we are now living in a fascist state. Like its blind support for that fanatic terrorist group called Hamas , the American left is Clueless in Gaza (and elsewhere).
We tend to think that our own failures regarding Wall St. and the corporations will destroy our society. By themselves they will not. But there are external factors that capitalism and secular democracy have not yet included in their prospectus of America's future. These are two in number: the ecological crisis (including global warming, loss of biodiversity, and food and energy policy), and the threat from political Islam, or Islamic Jihad. The accelerated ecological threats and the subtle insinuation of the Muslim Brotherhood, on behalf of Hamas and Hezbollah, must be confronted and halted, using all necessary tools and laws at our disposal.
Where has the left failed?
Universal human rights: it still turns a blind eye to the enslavement and oppression of women in the Muslim world,to honor killings, to forced child marriage, to the deprivation of women in education and health, to domestic abuse,to the persecution of Muslim gays. It has aligned itself with right-wing anti-Semites and neo-Nazis, and while it opposes "offensive speech" that might disturb Muslims, has nothing to say about the steady growth of anti-Semitism and anti-Semitic violence against individuals and buildings all over the world or the anti-Semitic propaganda broadcast as a matter of course by Muslim governments, educational institutions, mosques and media throughout the middle east.
International law: instead of supporting the UN Declaration of Universal Human Rights, the left has supported the Muslim-controlled UN Human Rights Commission, which has made the rooting out and punishment of all critics of Islam its top priority. The left had nothing to say about the UN HRC's shift from guaranteeing universal freedom of speech to its new witch hunt against anyone speaking ill of Islam.
Justice system: instead of pressing for international and global action to stop the persecution and murder by Muslims of black minorities in Darfur, the left has created the myth that Sudan's problems are due to Zionists. In the former Yugoslavia, at the behest of its leaders, Noam Chomsky and Ramsey Clark, it defended the fascist assassin Milosevic and attacked NATO for bombing Serbia, which was killing Croats and Muslims without cease. It has had no comment on the appointment by Pres. Obama of a special envoy to the criminally indicted president of Sudan (!!!!).
Non-violence: while the left attacks the USA for its invasive foreign policy in Iraq and Afghanistan, it proudly defends the use of any and all means of resistance, armed and otherwise, on the part of the USA's adversaries, such as Hamas and Hezbollah. To underscore their support for Islamist terrorism, they wear shi'ite headscarves prominently and propose (sometimes overtly, sometimes indirectly) the destruction of Israel.
Until the left and its liberal allies acknowledge the overarching threats of the ecological crisis and Islamic Jihad to our society and the world at large, we will be focusing our attention on what are arguably the easiest parts of our society to change. As we hold our finger in the dike and hold our breath about the collapse of capitalism, the waters of climate change and Islamic jihad are rolling over the top.