I’m morosely accustomed to a sad equation in left-wing political debates – opposition to one leads to apologies for another. I've seen it, for example, in so many of my fellow progressives’ uncritical embrace of even the most extreme BDS propaganda.
Such fiery BDS propaganda silences and sidelines the real voices of opposition to settlement policy inside Israel itself. Worse, it lets a principled opposition to Israeli state policy in the West Bank become a vile and twisted anti-Semitism.
In the left-wing approach to United States foreign policy, a principled opposition to American military intervention and global economic policy becomes a blind enemy-of-my-enemy support of anti-American authoritarian and nationalist leaders.
I’ve seen prominent writers and some of my own friends parrot Russian propaganda on Crimea, Ukraine, and NATO, and uncritically fawn over Rodrigo Duterte’s legalization of murder in the Philippines.
Do you know what precedent President Duterte has for his drug war by legalized murder? Hafez al-Assad’s crackdown on anyone suspected of membership in the Muslim Brotherhood after their uprising against him in 1982. Plus his near-complete destruction of the city of Hama, centre of the 1982 Islamist revolution against his regime.
|Former London mayor Ken Livingstone is one of the most prominent
current examples of the hypocritical progressive, a Western
politician whose support for Palestinian autonomy and sovereignty
has tipped into an oblivious hatred of Jewish people.
And I say this as a leftist! As a card carrying* member of Canada’s social democratic NDP. I want the opinion leaders in the Western left to develop a complex understanding of our profoundly fucked up world. I have growing doubts that this will happen.
* If we still had cards. The New Democrats don’t have cards anymore.
An American Congressional Representative with a growing following, Hawaii’s Tulsi Gabbard, secretly visited the Syrian government and met personally with Bashar Assad. She returned to the United States witlessly parroting his propaganda that the entire democratic revolution of 2011-2 was orchestrated by al-Qaeda, ISIS, and other militant Islamist groups.
A pro-Assad left is growing in Western progressive politics, where anti-Americanism becomes the excuse to vomit his regime’s messaging without a critical thought. Now that Trump has become solidly anti-Assad, I expect this love of savage dictators to grow among his opposition.
Russian attacks on hospitals and bomb shelters as he pounded Aleppo to rubble. A man who authorized brutal chemical attacks this week in Idlib and four years ago in Ghouta to demonstrate the ruthlessness of his power over his population.
Gassing war refugees with sarin isn’t a military operation – it’s a policy of governance. It delivers the message to the whole population of Syria – You are mine, and I will do what I wish with you, and you are powerless to stop me; you are powerless entirely.
There are voices on the left saying the Ghouta chemical attacks never even took place. I doubt it will be long before there are apologists and conspiracists about Idlib.
It doesn’t have to be this way. Opposition to one authoritarian President and the destructive military and economic policies of one state doesn’t mean the others get a pass.
I don’t care how much someone may justify it in terms of ‘realpolitik.’ To hear anyone who calls herself a progressive spewing Henry Kissinger’s language disgusts me, and it should disgust anyone of conscience.
Staying true to your ideals means you don’t give anyone a pass. If you oppose Donald Trump, then you oppose Bashar al-Assad, Abdel Fatteh el-Sisi, King Salman, Rodrigo Duterte, Vladimir Putin, Xi Jinping, Prayut Chanocha, Shavkat Mirziyoyev, Isaias Afwerki, Yoweri Museveni, Reçep Erdogan, Nicolas Maduro, and anyone else who falls short of supporting universal democracy, freedom, and dignity.
It shouldn’t be that hard.