Sunday, October 26, 2008

The Big Bad Left

If you are a supposed leftist, and you want to get on NPR, you better be ready to bash the left and say something pro-Zionist. On Saturday morning, Scott Simon talks to France's Bernard-Henri Levy, who Simon describes as "probably his country's best-known public intellectual" (You might be forgiven for wondering when NPR News took an interest in public intellectuals!) One reason Simon is talking to Levy is because - according to Simon - Levy "says the left has too often become apologists for tyrants and bigotry - antisemitism to be blunt about it."

It is kind of funny to hear this critique in the US where one would be happy to have a strong "left" to critique in the first place, and where uber-Zionism is a prerequisite to being heard at all in mainstream political discourse. But the realities of the US empire aren't about to get in the way of distortion. Here are a few excerpts from Levy:

  • "You have more and more liberals who say, 'Come on, wait a minute. Human rights in America, okay. Human rights in Europe, okay. But if you pretend to apply human rights for example to Arab countries, then - wait a minute - it is a colonial attitude, it is a neo-imperialist way of imposing a way of thinking..." [What US leftists decry insisting on human rights for Arab countries?]
  • "You have a lot of liberals today, who before taking the party of the victims, first ask who is the executioner, and more precisely, would by any chance, America been involved in this execution, in this bloodbath. If America is involved, then they take the party of the victims. If America is not involved, if it is not the guiltiness, the fault of America - they care less." [No, what you have are activists who are more disturbed by human rights abuses that their tax dollars are supporting and who rightly question the argument that US military intervention has ever favored human rights improvements.]
  • "...the only way to make antisemitism sayable and hearable...give sort of fake legitimacy is to mold it in the argumentation, the obsessions in the phrases of the liberal left. For example, antiZionism....I criticize Israel more than anybody...but antiZionism is something else. To be antiZionist is like to be anti-Francist or anti-Germanist as if you had the right to conclude from the faults...that France should not exist at all..." [Honestly, it's sad to see this sloppy logic passing as intellectualism. Yes, anyone would be anti-Francist or anti-Germanist if being ethnically French or German were a condition for citizenship and basic rights for anyone residing in France or Germany respectively.]
Don't look for a thoughtful look at Zionism on NPR. The arguments for and against Zionism are quite entangled, while the actual practice of Zionism in Israel is quiet blatantly racist and violent.


Anonymous said...

While there are some who clearly ARE anti-Semitic (members of the Aryan Nation group, for example), in many (if not most) cases, the anti-Semitic charge is made against people who are not even remotely anti-Semitic.

The person making the charge resorts to argumentum ad hominem because they are simply incapable of arguing the facts.

Such religion baiting is the very anti-thesis of intellectualism.

Anonymous said...

One might also say that NPR in general is the antithesis of intellectualism.