The day reality hit home for a former far left liberal

The Obserer/Guardian has a must read piece up – three parts actually – written by a former liberal, Andrew Anthony, whose journey to ‘former’ liberal began one Tuesday morning early in September of 2001, and who has chronicled that journey in an upcoming book, parts of which are reprinted in the Guardian links. The first part is here, and the links to the other two are at the bottom of the page. An excerpt:

In the end I reached the conclusion that 11 September had already brutally confirmed: there were other forces, far more malign than America, that lay in wait in the world. But having faced up to the basic issue of comparative international threats, could I stop the political reassessment there? If I had been wrong about the relative danger of America, could I be wrong about all the other things I previously held to be true? I tried hard to suppress this thought, to ring-fence the global situation, grant it exceptional status and keep it in a separate part of my mind. I had too much vested in my image of myself as a ‘liberal’. I had bought into the idea, for instance, that all social ills stemmed from inequality and racism. I knew that crime was solely a function of poverty. That to be British was cause for shame, never pride. And to be white was to bear an unshakable burden of guilt. I held the view, or at least was unprepared to challenge it, that it was wrong to single out any culture for censure, except, of course, Western culture, which should be admonished at every opportunity. I was confident, too, that Israel was the source of most of the troubles in the Middle East. These were non-negotiables for any right-thinking decent person. I couldn’t question these received wisdoms without questioning my own identity. And I had grown too comfortable with seeing myself as one of the good guys, the well-meaning people, to want to do anything that upset that image. I viewed myself as understanding, and to maintain that self-perception it was imperative that I didn’t try to understand myself.

In a sense 11 September was the ultimate mugging, a murderous assertion of a new reality, or rather a reality that already existed but which we preferred not to see. Over the years I had absorbed a notion of liberalism that was passive, defeatist, guilt-ridden. Feelings of guilt governed my world view: post-colonial guilt, white guilt, middle-class guilt, British guilt. But if I was guilty, 9/11 shattered my innocence. More than anything it challenged us all to wake up and open our eyes to what was real. It took me far too long to meet that challenge. For while I realised almost straight away that 9/11 would change the world, it would be several years before I accepted that it had also changed me. I had been wrong. This was my story, after all.

Normblog has another excerpt of the book – not published in the Observer/Guardian – here.

The three-parter really slams home the contrast of modern day pacifist liberalism versus the modern day ‘cowboy diplomacy’ of conservatism, and not just as it relates to responding to terrorist attacks, but on a general level of good versus evil, and how we should respond to it. Anthony was your classic hate-America lefty, who blamed all the world’s ills on none other than the US, but who found himself at odds with his beliefs the day he watched America get attacked by terrorists using commerical airplanes as weapons.

If he lived in the US, he’d be known as a 9-11 Democrat, a liberal whose worldview changed once they saw for themselves the brutal, horrific consequences of inaction in the face of a brutal enemy who had been well known by the world’s superpower for years, yet had been allowed to remain free by that same superpower, a superpower that was hamstrung by indecisiveness, political correctness, a belief that terrorism was an issue best handled by law enforcement, and an unwillingness to fully utilize its intelligence agencies and military power for what it exists to do: to study, seek out, find, and destroy those who desire to punish this country for its western values, its way of life.

Becoming a 9-11 Democrat should have been a no-brainer to the left after 9-11. Because regardless of politics, there was only one sure and appropriate response in the aftermath that we should have all been able to agree on, and that was to go after terrorists and their organizations wherever they hide, make sure they knew in no uncertain terms that America would do whatever it took to prevent another 9-11 style attack from happening on its soil. For a couple of months, even hardcore anti-Bush partisans in Congress were 9-11 Democrats, but after the shock of seeing 3000 die on our own soil in the most devastating attack since Pearl Harbor wore off, the “rally around the flag” mentality faded into obscurity, to be replaced with a level of wartime partisanship that would have been unheard of and frowned upon greatly in the WWII era, starting with charges that the President “knew” about 9-11 in advance and did nothing, a charge that was levelled by Bush-hating Democrats just months after 9-11.

I will never forget the picture of Hillary Clinton standing in the Senate, holding up the front page of the New York Post in May 2002, which bore the headline that read simply “Bush Knew.” That picture (which I can’t find at the moment) came to symbolize to me how the Democrats in Congress were more interested in politicizing the tragedy – ironically, something they later accused the administration of doing – than responding to it forcefully and directly, in the way any honest, decent American, Democrat or Republican, should do in the face of the tragedies that had happened in New York, DC, and PA.

And they haven’t stopped politicizing it, nor ceased blaming the President for it, ever since. The Bush hatred that was alive and well after he ‘stole’ the 2000 elections, but which subsided for a couple of months after 9-11, was back with a vengeance shortly thereafter and it continues unabated today. It shouldn’t have to be that way, because responding to evil in a manner that evildoers understand shouldn’t be a right or left issue. Sure, there are going to be strong disagreements, and there shouldn’t be any ‘blank checks’ but in the process of having those disagreements and debates, the Democrats’ focus should never have been taken off of the real enemy (Islamofascism) and put on to their perceived enemy (George W. Bush). The left made the war on terror a partisan fight when they started blaming the President for 9-11, and started treating him as a bigger enemy to freedom than the terrorists themselves because of warrantless wiretaps, etc.

Think about it: The few sane Democrats who could be described as 9-11 Democrats, like Joe Lieberman, are shunned and scorned as traitors to their party, simply because Joe Lieberman – for all his faults, and there are many – doesn’t subscribe to the defeatist, fatalistic, ‘all we have to do is be nice to people and they’ll leave us alone’ mentality that has taken root not just in the ‘fringe’ of the Democratic party, but the mainstream. Even critics of the administration’s approach to the war on terror, whether it be the overall handling of it or how they’ve handled post-war Iraq, who have recently admitted that in spite of all the negativity they’ve heard and talked about in the past as it relates to the war on Iraq, the surge is producing positive results, and that some elements of it are working, are downplayed as people who were ‘never really war critics to begin with’ or whose opinions are potrayed by a desperate far left as ‘insignificant in the overall scheme of things.’ And those in Congress who don’t march lockstep with the far left on war on terror issues are targeted, too, as traitors.

This is, sadly, the face of a party that cares more about winning elections and resuming/keeping its ‘rightful’ majority place in Congress than it does concentrating on the real enemy, which is not President Bush. If the left had spent more time offering up solutions for what they’ve seen as us ‘losing’ the war on terror at large, and in Iraq, and had approached the issues in a “we can win this thing, and here’s how we can do it” way, instead of a “we can’t win, we must take this law off the books, tie the President’s hands so he can’t effectively use the wartime powers a CIC has at his disposal, we must bring the troops home, no matter the very strong possibility that genocide will occur afterwards” approach, that would go a long way towards quelling the charges that they are weak, defeatist, doing everything for political gain, and playing into the hands of the enemy. But if they did so, they’d know that showing strength in a time when our country demands it is a sign of ‘warmongering’ to their lose-at-any-cost base, and they’d rather court the base and vilify the CIC as someone who is using his powers as CIC to ‘steal your rights’ rather than tell them – as Lieberman has – that the McGovernesque approach to fighting wars works about as well today as it did during Vietnam.

I daresay that if this country had a lot more Liebermans – and Andrew Anthonys – in Congress, we’d be a hell of a lot closer to winning this war than we are now, and the enemy would know without a doubt that in spite of the differences the parties hold in Washington, DC, that in a time of war we will not be divided, that we will stand together, shoulder to shoulder, and offer up competing ideas that we can all find common ground on, in order to defeat terrorism, And not just defeat those who engage in it, but the ideology of terrorism, commonly known as Islamofascism, as well.

Hey, a girl can dream, can’t she?

Others blogging about this: Jules Crittenden, Dan Collins at Protein Wisdom, Flopping Aces, USS Neverdock

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