Monday, August 26, 2013

The Incoherent Tribal Lore of the Pseudo-Left

After 9-11, after Sam Harris opened up the floodgates of hatred of Muslims in the leftish faction of the blogging classes, all of the sins attributed to the suicide bombers and their handlers were laid on the backs of the more than 1.6 billion Muslims around the world, especially by a faction of the mighty 1.6% of the United States population who polled as being atheists.   There were lots of those guys on the leftish blogs I frequented in those days.   It was kind of stunning for a traditional American style liberal such as myself how much they could sound like the old line bigots of the past.  Of course, since they were devotees of Sam  Harris and the wave of other atheists who jumped on the fad, Dawkins, Hitchens, they were slamming "Xians" if anything even harder, blaming everyone down to the most pacifistic members of the peace churches for enabling religious fanatics and having responsibility for violence, female genital mutilation.... there was no end to that kind of stuff.

That kind of thing reached a sort of breaking point for me on the night that Dr. George Tiller was murdered.   For those who haven't heard me talk about this before, I was on a thread at Eschaton when news of the murder broke on TV.    Having given up on TV long before, I got the news first from others on the thread and I knew that, immediately, it would lead to the knee jerk religion bashing that was guaranteed to come.  And it did.  I went to look for a real news story about it and was immediately shocked to find out that Dr. Tiller was murdered while he was ushering at his Reformed Lutheran church.   I went back to Eschaton and pointed out that according to the party line there, Dr. Tiller had to be responsible for his own murder since he, as an active member of a CHRISTIAN church, had created the milieu in which his murderer drew his sense of permission.  Needless to say it was not a welcomed point.

But, getting back to Islam and the leftish mindset,  the blanket of condemnation that covered a considerable percentage of the human population had some rather large holes in it.  When a self-appointed preacher in Florida decided to get some attention by announcing he was going to burn the Quran - setting off deadly riots on the other side of the globe - suddenly those who had been hating on the Islam were all defending it against the "Xian" in Florida.  The same thing happened when it was Peter King and Pam Geller re the Islamic center in the general vicinity of Ground Zero.   Then, the despised identity of those attacking Islam overrode the fad for hating on Islam.  Only whenever it's something like the governmental lynching of gay teenagers, the opportune blanket of blame covers even those Muslims who had nothing to do with it and likely would condemn it.

Needless to say, the pseudo-left seems to have a hard time keeping its hatreds in order.   Though, other than occasions such as pointing out that they were in the act of vicariously blaming Dr. Tiller for his own murder even as his body was still warm,  the complete lack of coherence doesn't seem to bother them.  In this they resemble nothing so much as their hated ideological opponents.

The Snowden-Greenwald cult is an especially fecund generator of such incoherence.  I've had people, seriously, say that China was a brilliant place for the champion of privacy and freedom to flee to from that land of oppression and spies, The United States.    I've had them say that Greenwald was more secure in Rio de Janeiro than he could be in the United States or his partner was in Britain.  I mean, this is Brazil, the land where nuns trying to protect the Amazon get gunned down.   Joshua Foust had some rather interesting points to make about that*, as well.  Virtually every aspect of the Snowden-Greenwald cult requires denials of the most obvious facts, pretenses that countries such as China are champions of human rights which would allow scruples about privacy keep them from forcing young Snowden to fork over his entire stash of stolen secrets.  Any "reality community" that could maintain that much incoherence must have entered a universe next to where the RaĆ«lians went.

Consider this thought provoking article by Jean Bricmont about the leftish calls for contradicting responses to the horrible civil war in Syria.  Both wanting intervention and non-intervention in the same petition, warning about getting what you wished for, in some cases.  For the record, I could plead guilty to being among those mentioned at the beginning.

Once upon a time, in the early 1970′s, many people, including myself, thought that all the “struggles” of that period were linked: the Cultural Revolution in China, the guerillas in Latin America, the Prague Spring and the East European “dissidents”, May 68, the civil rights movement, the opposition to the Vietnam war, and the nominally socialist anti-colonial movements in Africa and Asia. We also thought that the “fascist” regimes in Spain, Portugal and Greece, by analogy with WWII, could only be overthrown through armed struggle, very likely protracted.

None of these assumptions were correct. The Cultural Revolution had nothing to do with the anti-authoritarian movements in the West, the Eastern European dissidents were, in general, pro-capitalist and pro-imperialist, and often fanatically so, the Latin American guerrillas were a pipe dream (except in Central America) and the national liberation movements were just that: they (quite rightly) aimed at national liberation and called themselves socialist or communist only because of the support offered to them by the Soviet Union or China. The southern European “fascist” regimes transformed themselves without offering a serious resistance, let alone an armed struggle. Many other authoritarian regimes followed suit: in Eastern Europe, in Latin America, in Indonesia, Africa and now in part of the Arab world. Some collapsed from inside, other crumbled after a few demonstrations.

And there is this:

The signatories of course demand the immediate departure from power of Bashar al-Assad, which is supposed to be the only “hope for a free, unified, and independent Syria”. They also characterize Russia, China and Iran as standing “in support of the slaughter of people”, although they are “allegedly friends of the Arabs”; they acknowledge that “the U.S. and its Gulf allies have intervened in support of the revolutionaries”, but blame them for “having done so with a clear cynical self-interest” and trying to “crush and subvert the uprising”. It is not clear how this squares with the next line of the text, which claims that “regional and world powers have left the Syrian people alone”.

Apparently the world is to keep hands off of Syria for which they will be blamed for, leaving "the Syrian people alone".  Not to be considered is that the very same Islamic radicals who so many of those guys also loathe and despise comprise a considerable presence in the anti-government side in the Civil war and that recent revolutions in the Islamic world haven't done so well at keeping them out of power.  No doubt the Obama Administration would be to blame if their intervention led to an Islamic regime of the kind that oppresses women and lynches gay teenagers.

I really wish it were possible to find out how many of those who, rightly, deplore the Russian and Chinese governments' stands on Syria are also presenting them as the protectors of Edward Snowden from the lawless persecution of the United States government.  I'm sure I'd find those guys on a number of blogs if I bothered to sort through enough of the personalized Disqus threads available for searching.  Of course, I'd probably be accused of violating the privacy of those people who, by signing up for Disqus accounts agreed to make that information available in that semi-convenient form.  I wonder what the reaction would be to news that the NSA had also noticed that information, at times attached to real names, was voluntarily made available online.  Only, and here's the rub, they couldn't safely collect it WITHOUT SPECIFIC AUTHORIZATION EVEN AS IT IS THERE FOR ANYONE LIKE ME TO READ.  

Of course if it were someone who bombed some place or shot up a school or somehow terrorized someone in the United States, the failure of the government to have done that would also be whined about mightily. Or at least at long length and on many a Disqus thread.

With their conceited pretenses of being the embodiment of the age of rationality and reason, you'd think that they'd have the sense to try, try to at least achieve basic coherence.   For the rest of us, we can see their example and in it find some important evidence of why the real left is such an impotent mess.

*  Here is what Foust said

While we’re on the subject of secret, undisclosed ties to the government, let’s revisit the timeline of events in Miranda’s detention at Heathrow. By his own admission, Greenwald was able to mobilize both Brazil’s foreign minister and London ambassador. Did anyone find it remarkable that a foreign journalist could marshall the senior officials of a 200 million person country on less than an hour’s notice? I did. I also found it remarkable how Greenwald — an outspoken defender of journalism, and a vocal critic of any attempt to interfere with journalism — was absolutely silent about Brazil’s massive protest movement that resulted in the rampant mistreatment (and deaths) of the journalists covering it. In fact, murdering journalists is depressingly routine in Brazil. It happens all the time.
In fact, Brazil, where Greenwald says he lives because he can be free there, is actually famous for its incredibly violent police force, especially if you happen to be poor and living in a slum of his adopted hometown of Rio de Janeiro.
I can’t fathom why Greenwald, who relies on the good graces of Brasilia to live with his partner and continue writing, would ignore such appalling government violence while shrieking at the top of his lungs about American surveillance (please, for the love of God, Glenn, don’t write about Brazil’s massive domestic surveillance apparatus, the proliferation of private militaries, or its growing use of drones to squash protests). It’s a total mystery, right?
Maybe I should add “hypocrite” to the top of this post.


  1. Off topic, but wandering the Intertoobs I found this, about GG.

    You might find it interesting reading.

  2. That is very interesting. Thank you. He is certainly a piece of evidence that the "left" has devolved into a variant sect of libertarianism. I think it has a lot to do with that kind of "left" having no real moral center but is a collection of cultural holdings and mutual dislikes and, to a lesser extent, likes.

    I didn't often read him because his columns are sometimes more incoherent than my long posts and I was afraid more of it would rub off on me. I never found him especially good, even on those occasions we shared the same opinion on things.

  3. I've found too much, having finally wandered off the reservation of where I usually look.

    This is good, and useful; and I found it from this one.


  4. TTC,

    I have no desire to invade your privacy, but is there a way for us to talk - well, more more privately? I'd be happy to post things right here - but your posts spawn so many divergent questions. I guess I've never come across someone quite like you. If you have no desire to do this - that is just fine - I will completely understand.

    BTW: you have totally distracted me from doing my research on Darwin and the Descent of Man!

  5. Hey, what can I say, I do a bit of reading.

    You can e-mail me at thinkingcriminal(at)gmail(dot)com

    I do have a lot of filters on that account - new ones added as the hate mail warrants. I get lots of hate mail.

    1. I should add I never, ever open attachements or click on links sent to me by e-mail. Never ever not for anything.