Onward with the best (or worst, if you will) of what those on the left are saying in the aftermath of Sept. 11.
We’ll start off the week with Studs Terkel, whose popular oral histories (Working, etc.) lead many to mistakenly label him a writer when in fact he’s nothing more than an energetic tape recordist, to use the memorable term coined for him by Chicago Sun-Times columnist Steve Neal.
Terkel, an old leftist whose worldview, critic Jacob Weisberg wrote a decade ago, is characterized by a “dogmatic insistence that American society is bigoted, ignorant and greedy,” informed a radio interviewer earlier this month that the U.S. is “the only country in the world that has been fighting a war since 1940.” Apparently intent on painting the current crisis as an overreaction by incorrigible militarists, Terkel went on to say, “Count the wars. Count the years. We’ve built up a body politic of old men who look upon military service as a noble adventure.”
Another leftist who can always be counted on for a bad word about the U.S. is Columbia University professor Eric Foner, who came through with this gem for the ages in the Village Voice: “I’m not sure which is more frightening, the horror that engulfed New York or the apocalyptic rhetoric emanating daily from the White House.”
But Foner was topped by Ted Rall, a cartoonist for the Philadelphia City Paper who wrote: “We’ve been treated to some astonishingly vile images….Office workers hurling themselves into a 100-floor-high abyss. A gaping, smoldering hole in the financial center of our greatest city. George W. Bush passing himself off as a patriot, even as he disassembles the Constitution with the voracious glee of piranha skeletonizing a cow.”
Another dose of idiocy comes from Alice Walker, beloved by housewives and soccer moms whose literary regimen consists of selections from the Oprah Book Club, nothing more, nothing less: “In a war on Afghanistan, Osama bin Laden will either be left alive, while thousands of impoverished, frightened people are bombed into oblivion around him, or he will be killed in a bombing attack for which he seems quite prepared. But what would happen to his cool armor if he could be reminded of all the good, nonviolent things he’s done? Further, what would happen to him if he could be brought to understand the preciousness of the lives he has destroyed? I firmly believe the only punishment that works is love.”
If it’s Solomonic wisdom you’re in search of, here’s an observation from left-wing essayist and author Vivian Gornick (who once wrote a book charmingly titled The Romance of American Communism, in which she nostalgically looked back at her parents’ generation of American communists – the very ones who defended Stalin through all the mass killings): “Force will get us nowhere. It is reparations that are owing, not retribution.”
The quote of the month, however, goes to novelist Arundhati Roy, who used the pages of the London Guardian to unburden herself of her disdain for “America’s foreign policy: its gunboat diplomacy, its nuclear arsenal…its chilling disregard for non-American lives, its barbarous military interventions, its support for despotic and dictatorial regimes, its merciless economic agenda that has munched through the economies of poor countries like a cloud of locusts. Its marauding multinationals who are taking over the air we breathe, the ground we stand on, the water we drink, the thoughts we think.”
In contemplating such Twilight-Zone level paranoia and truth-twisting, The New Republic’s Andrew Sullivan concluded that “The left’s howls of anguish…grow from a realization that this crisis has largely destroyed the credibility of the far left. Forced to choose between the West and the Taliban, the hard left simply cannot decide.”
And National Post columnist Mark Steyn no doubt had pinheads like Ms. Roy in mind when he wrote: “In some weird Orwellian boomerang, the degradation of language required to advance the left’s agenda has rendered its proponents utterly desiccated. The president gets teary in the Oval Office, the Queen chokes up at St. Paul’s, David Letterman and Dan Rather sob on CBS, New Yorkers weep openly for their slain firemen, but the dead-eyed zombies of the peace movement who claim to love everyone parade through the streets unmoved, a breed apart.”
Jason Maoz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org