the War Party brays about all
the glorious sacrifices we'll have to make to win
the War on Everyone, and opines that privation on the
home front builds
character as well as empire, it looks like there's
some wavering in the ranks. Writing in "The Corner,"
National Review's group-blog and mutual admiration
banker and weekend NR blogger Andrew
Stuttaford balks at a world without wingtips:
TRAVEL TIP [Andrew Stuttaford]
through security at a West Coast airport this week my
harmless-seeming (if battered) shoes once again triggered
off the system.
shanks,' explained a sympathetic screener as he studied
these not so lethal pieces of fine English footwear.
'Try wearing sneakers when you travel and just pack
the regular shoes in your hand baggage.'
maybe most people have already worked this out for themselves,
but it seemed like good, if aesthetically distressing,
advice to pass on to anybody (like me) not smart enough
to do so. Just thought I'd mention it."
hope and pray the President utilizes his State of the
Union speech to proclaim "I can only promise you
blood, sweat, tears, and confiscated wingtips."
Half of the GOP would defect on the spot, and soon the
Young Republicans would be vying with the Workers World
Party for prime spots on the speakers' platform at the
antiwar rallies. Speaking of the Workers out-of-this-World
the antiwar movement gains momentum, it is fast
leaving behind the eccentric pro-Stalinist
cult that has been the driving force behind the recent
mobilizations. The Workers World Party was founded in
1957 by followers of Sam
Marcy, a former leader of the Socialist Workers
Party: Marcy and his small band of followers were expelled
for supporting the 1956 Soviet invasion of Hungary.
Up until this point, they have dominated the platform
at antiwar rallies organized by their front group, Act
Now to End War and Racism (ANSWER), but the
long campaign by moderates and libertarians in the
antiwar movement to create a single-issue coalition
unburdened by far-left shibboleths is finally taking
hold, having reached the point where even the New
York Times is taking
note of it.
pro-war Right has latched on to the WWP-antiwar connection,
absurdly charging that to even march in a rally in any
way connected with known Communists is to become an
accomplice and apologist for all the horrors of Stalin's
gulag. According to David Horowitz, the ex-Commie-turned-rightwing
self-parody, the hundreds of thousands of antiwar demonstrators
who turned out on January 18 were
all Communists, who agree with the WWP that Kim
Jong Il is a "Great Leader" and North Korea
is a workers paradise.
the Times doesn't cite the hyperbolic Horowitz
or any of his fellow neocons, only antiwar people who
are sick unto death of hearing about Mumia Abu-Jamal:
the scenes, some of the protesters have questioned whether
the message of opposing war with Iraq is being tainted
or at least diluted by other causes of International
Answer, which sponsored both the Washington and San
Francisco rallies. … Answer's critics say they simply
wish that when it sponsors antiwar rallies, it would
confine its message to opposition to war. At the rally
in Washington, the group's speakers advocated causes
like better treatment of American Indians and release
of Mumia Abu-Jamal, the radical activist long imprisoned
for killing a Philadelphia police officer."
WWPers have struck back, predictably enough, with cries
of "McCarthyism!" Says Mara
Verheyden-Hilliard, a spokeswoman for Answer,
you select out the Socialists or Marxists, the point
is to demonize and divide and diminish a massive, growing
even raise the question of what sort of leadership the
antiwar movement must have to win is to engage in "classic
Wacky-Worlders are kidding themselves, but they can't
kid me. Dealing with a real honest-to-goodness Communist
– that is, a member of the party of Gus
Hall and Earl
Browder – would be a hell of a lot easier than having
to contend with the WWP. The WWP/ANSWER group select
themselves out of the crowd of socialists and other
Marxists in the antiwar movement with their inveterate
sectarianism and the sheer eccentricity of their politics.
And it isn't just me, unregenerate right-winger that
I am: plenty of leftists agree
with me on that score.
in the antiwar movement should take to heart the tactics
employed by the parent party of Sam Marcy and the WWP
during the Vietnam war era. The Socialist Workers Party
(SWP), once the main Trotskyist group in the U.S., helped
to build a massive movement in opposition to the Vietnam
intervention, in which eventually millions of Americans
united around a single issue: bring the troops home
now. The Trots went up against every grouplet of New
Left know-it-alls, who thought they were going to hitch
up the antiwar movement to their revolutionary bandwagon,
and they largely succeeded, or at least they fought
the "multi-issue" self-styled radicals to
a standstill. As Fred Halsted, a leader of the SWP and
the antiwar movement, put it in Out
Now, still the best blow-by-blow account of
the Vietnam era opposition:
unaffiliated radicals made the mistake of treating the
antiwar movement as an embryonic revolutionary party
or trying to convert it into a leftist political formation
according to their specifications. To whatever extent
they succeeded with any formation, it simply ceased
to be an effective antiwar mobilizer."
a pertinent lesson for today. The Times goes
on to cite one activist who helped organize a protest
in her Northwest Washington neighborhood in "in
part to provide an outlet for those who felt uncomfortable
attending the Answer-sponsored rally. 'I felt like it
was important just to go and be counted," Karen
Guberman said, 'but many of my friends felt they couldn't
count on what was going to be said, and so we did this
very specific thing.'"
of going around ANSWER, however, the antiwar mainstream
now appears to be going over its head: the February
15 rallies (Feb. 16 in San Francisco) scheduled by United
for Peace are shaping up as a very different and far
broader venue for peace activists to make their case.
While ANSWER has endorsed the February actions, "it
is not yet clear what role it will play in shaping the
tone," the Times informs us. The paper quotes
Leslie Cogan, a UFP organizer, as saying "We want
our speakers making a clear link to the issue."
that is something to look forward to, and I have a suggestion.
Why don't they invite Brendan
O'Neil to speak? He has an interesting piece in
the Christian Science Monitor, one that challenges
the familiar "war for oil" argument that infatuates
the left-wing opposition to the exclusion of all other
explanations. He trenchantly points out that this very
same analysis has been hauled out to "explain"
every war in the post-cold war era, from Kosovo to Somalia
and Afghanistan. While acknowledging that oil is a factor,
O'Neill rightly points out that this "one-size-fits-all"
template obscures more than it explains:
of coming to terms with the forces driving Western intervention
in each case, sections of the antiwar movement opted
for a one-size-fits-all explanation, superimposing the
'war for oil' script on often complex conflicts."
one-dimensional analysis fails to account for a number
of other, often far more significant factors weighing
in for war, such as religion, ideology, domestic politics,
and the personal loyalties and idiosyncrasies of politicians.
There is also an ideological motive for the "it's
all about oil" mantra:
well-rehearsed oil argument attempts to make war a simple
issue of good versus evil, with oil-greedy imperialists
on one side and defenseless civilians on the other.
This presents the world as we might prefer it to be,
where it's easy to know whom we should oppose, rather
than as the world really is – where wars are weird, confusing,
and often fought for no obvious material or economic
would be interesting to hear is what, exactly, are
these weird, confusing, and not-so-obvious motives behind
the rush to war. O'Neill doesn't say in his article,
but, as my regular readers know, I
have my own theories on that subject, and, speaking
worldwide campaign to conjure up a rising tide of "anti-Semitism"
in Europe as a natural outgrowth of rising antiwar sentiment
took a weird turn the other day when French police called
into question the recent stabbing of Rabbi Gabriel Farhi.
This incident, you'll recall, was supposed to herald
a "wave" of "anti-Semitism,"
in to the anti-Israel boycott and growing opposition
in Europe to Ariel Sharon's ongoing conquest of the
occupied territories. Every political leader in France
the attack, descrying the "bigotry"
and "hate" that no doubt motivated it:
except, it seems, that the wound may have been self
inflicted. Ha'aretz reports:
French Jewish community is in an uproar over allegations
that Reform Rabbi Gabriel Farhi, who was stabbed on
January 3, may in fact have faked the stabbing. The
allegations surfaced in a report this week by the weekly
magazine Marianne, which was then picked up by
Le Figaro. The journal reported that police officers
investigating the stabbing said it is not clear whether
Farhi was actually stabbed by an unknown assailant,
and they are not ruling out the possibility that Farhi
in fact stabbed himself."
"hate crimes" are nothing new. Remember
Brawley? Al Sharpton would rather you didn't. But
surely a lot more politicians, pundits, and professional
victimologists of all persuasions were taken in this
time around. What I want to know is this: will Rabbi
Farhi be prosecuted if and when it is proved that he
committed a hate crime against himself?
evidence doesn't look good for the Rabbi and his supporters:
seen assaults and stabbings as part of my job, but I
must say that this was a rather strange stabbing,' Marianne
quoted the officer who led the investigating team as
saying. A few days later, the doctor who examined Farhi
submitted a report to the police in which he wrote that
'the wound does not match the rabbi's version of the
report, we are told, has "stunned French Jewry"
– but what about the legions of politicians (four former
prime ministers), not to mention the pundits, who piously
proclaimed that the stabbing of Farhi signified the
parlous moral condition of Europe? One hopes they are
not too stunned to ask why someone would pull such a
stunt at this
particular moment in history.
an article in the February issue of Chronicles,
the monthly magazine put out by the Rockford Institute,
"Attack of the Jacobins," on l'affaire Lott.
I don't think this one is online, so if you want to
read it (and the other articles I'll be writing for
them in the future), I suggest subscribing.
will also have a piece on the antiwar movement in the
upcoming issue of The
American Conservative. Again, fans of my writing
would do well to subscribe.
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