Thursday, December 8, 2016

The Poverty of the Liberal "Left".

I started writing this as a comment to an Australian friend's post. I decided to publish it here, too, so as to share it with other readers. It's slightly edited.

Since the Trump victory I've been trying to hear all the sides of the controversy. I claim no expertise on the issues involved. I'm just a foreigner curious about all the hullabaloo. It took me some effort, because I've never had much interest in American politics. I don't have too much time to research that, either. However, in spite of limitations, this is an exercise we all should try.

A few things I've found seem to me symptomatic of the political, intellectual, and moral bankruptcy of the American "left" and its identity politics.

This story, published recently by a New York Jewish community newspaper, the historically liberal/"left" The Forward, seems instructive:

Speechless Rabbi Admits Losing Argument Over Racism and Israel to White Supremacist Richard Spencer. Daniel J. Solomon. December 7, 2016

Rabbi Matt Rosenberg attended an event featuring Spencer (a Trump supporter and by most accounts something of a neo-Nazi, white supremacist, or whatever).

At some stage Rosenberg publicly addressed Spencer:
"You come here with a message of radical exclusion. My tradition teaches a message of radical inclusion, as embodied by Torah," said Rosenberg, who attended the media event at the urging of one of his colleagues. "Would you sit down and study Torah with me and learn love?"
Spencer may be many unpleasant things, but a dummy doesn't seem to be one of them. This was the reply Rosenberg got:
Spencer shot back by comparing Israel's vision as a homeland for Jews with his own goals for a state for whites.
"Do you really want radical inclusion into the State of Israel?" Spencer responded, as Rosenberg said nothing. "Jews exist precisely because you did not assimilate to the gentiles… I respect that about you. I want my people to have that same sense of themselves."
Rosenberg refused to respond, effectively leaving unchallenged Spencer's assertion about Jews and Israel.
Now, maybe a more adept debater would have managed to produce a witty or sarcastic remark Twitter-style, or some kind of philosophically-sounding platitude, if not to refute Spencer, at least to save face. Personally, I don't like to admit it, but it seems undeniable Spencer scored a point. After all, if that's acceptable from the State of Israel, why not from them? If that's not acceptable from the State of Israel, where are the heated denunciations from the American liberal "left"?

Maye that's just because of my ignorance, but personally, I can't imagine how Rosenberg could have given an honest and effective reply to that, when Trump himself and his movement have some support among prominent members of the American Jewish community. The Israeli PM, Benjamin Netanyahu, not only doesn't seem overly concerned with the company Trump keeps, but as recently as last March there were cautiously positive expectations among Israeli politicians and public: "One in four Israeli Jews would vote for Donald Trump".

Much more importantly and to the point, the audience seemed to give Spencer a point (check their comments). The politics of the State of Israel towards Arabs are far from kosher, but they are virtually impossible to challenge: every single criticism of the State of Israel is received with cries of anti-Semitism from the liberal "left".

That position is strictly based on moralising: they are the judges of what can be said and what must be silenced, who deserves praise and who don't. And it just so happens that the State of Israel cannot be criticised; the white working class can. It did not follow their marching instructions: however misguidedly, it tried — perhaps for the first time in decades — to decide where its interests are.

It's not only the American intellectual liberal "left" who is at fault. I'm not free from guilt. I'm just a second-hand Aussie of wog background with a mixed education, but I myself have refrained from commenting on the State of Israel precisely because of the fear of being labelled "anti-Semite". That's cowardice.

But that fear did not deter fascists. They don't give a shit about being labelled anti-Semite. And they claim their right to their own identity politics! How can American liberal "leftists" now argue against that? They opened Pandora's Box, for goodness' sake! Spencer learned the trick: he is literally learning from the State of Israel and from the American liberal "left"!

Spencer is not alone. Stephen Bannon, who by all accounts is also a quasi-fascist, is another case:

Stephen Bannon and the old/new anti-Semitism
"Equating criticism of Israel with anti-Semitism covers up the bigotry of the likes of Stephen Bannon."
Amy Kaplan, November 30, 2016.

American liberal "left" intellectuals: You are worse than Bannon and Spencer. You not only are bigots like them, but, in addition, you are sanctimonious, cowardly, and stupid.

It is I who has nothing but contempt for you.


Col. John Herschel Glenn Jr. died in Columbus, Ohio.

He was the last surviving member of the Mercury 7. In February 1962 he became the first American and third person to orbit Earth, after Col. Yuri Gagarin (the first, in April 1961) and General-Colonel Gherman S. Titov (the second, in August 1961). In October 1998, at the age of 77, Col. Glenn became the oldest person to fly in space, this time on board Discovery.

Rest in peace.

Image Credits:
[A] "Astronaut John H. Glenn Jr. dons his silver Mercury pressure suit in preparation for launch of Mercury Atlas 6 (MA-6) rocket". January 20, 1962. Author: NASA. Source: Wikimedia. File in the public domain.

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