Hold Fast To Your Beliefs: We are leftists because, at the very core of our values, lies an unshakeable belief in the worth of every human-being, and in the right of every human-being to live his or her life free from exploitation and violence. That the world is so full of these evils must never daunt us, nor persuade us to abandon love for hate; justice for revenge.
TERRORIST ATTACKS – like the one that left 129 Parisians dead on 13 November 2015 – leave many leftists in a quandary. Most of us are only too aware that one person’s terrorist is another person’s freedom-fighter. We hesitate to join in the outpourings of outrage and sympathy because we are appalled by, and want no part of, the extraordinary hypocrisy in which these events are shrouded.
Scores of men, women and children are killed and maimed by terrorist attacks almost every day in the countries of the Middle East and Africa, and yet they merit only a few words in our news bulletins and newspapers. Certainly, nobody thinks them worthy of front-page treatment. Nor do we see significant public buildings lit up in the colours of their nation’s flag.
This is because there is an unacknowledged hierarchy of significance at work in the newsrooms of the West. People of colour; followers of non-Christian faiths; citizens of nations with which our governments are not on friendly terms: the violent deaths of such people are almost never accorded the same degree of significance as the deaths of Westerners.
If I belonged to one of these “less significant” groups, I would find it extremely difficult not to brand the actions of Western editors racist.
Because even the term “terrorist attack” carries blatantly racist overtones. In Western ears, it conjures up images of bloodthirsty organisations with outlandish names like Boko Haram, Janjaweed, Hezbollah and ISIS. It is much less common to hear the term linked to the actions of the armed forces of the United States, the United Kingdom, France and the other Western powers. Terrorists wear turbans and carry Kalashnikovs – not smart uniforms and M-16s.
And yet, since the end of the Second World War, the armed forces of the United States, advised and assisted by its intelligence and security agencies, has been responsible for the deaths of millions. The unrelenting air assault on North Korea (over 700,000 sorties between 1950-53) is credited (conservatively) with at least a million civilian deaths. Twice that number of civilians are estimated to have been killed by the American armed forces in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia between 1965-75. US inflicted civilian deaths in Iraq 2003-2014 are put at well over 600,000.
In 1996, the US Ambassador to the United Nations, Madelaine Albright, was questioned by Lesley Stahl, of CBS’s 60 Minutes, about the human consequences of the sanctions imposed by the US on the regime of the Iraqi dictator, Saddam Hussein.
“We have heard that half a million children have died. I mean, that is more children than died in Hiroshima. And, you know, is the price worth it?”
To which Albright responded,
“I think that is a very hard choice, but the price, we think, the price is worth it.”
Those who wonder how a group of young men can fire their automatic weapons into a crowded theatre should, perhaps, contemplate the effect of Ambassador Albright’s words on the parents and siblings of those 500,000 children.
The temptation which confronts so many on the Left is to advance these bleak statistics as some form of justification for the actions of non-state terrorists around the world. It is a temptation we must resist. That we learn the fundamental moral precept “two wrongs don’t make a right” at our parents’ knees, does not make it any the less true.
The appropriate moral response to the deliberate killing of innocent human-beings can never be the deliberate killing of innocent human-beings. If we are outraged by the callous indifference of Madelaine Albright, we must also be outraged by the pitiless brutality of the Islamic State’s jihadis in the Bataclan Theatre.
Nor is it appropriate to downplay the horror and heartache of Parisians who have lost loved ones simply because our news media has failed to highlight the horror and heartache of those who have suffered similar loss in other parts of the world.
We are leftists because, at the very core of our values, lies an unshakeable belief in the worth of every human-being, and in the right of every human-being to live his or her life free from exploitation and violence. That the world is so full of these evils must never daunt us, nor persuade us to abandon love for hate; justice for revenge.
Better to light a candle than curse the darkness.
This essay was originally posted on The Daily Blog of Tuesday, 17 November 2015.
The only glaring and actually outrageous slant you attach is to posit that the left is morally superior to the right. Not only is that offensive it is intellectually bollocks.
What you should have said was that civilised people, whether they lean left or right or towards Christ, Mohammed or nobody, all condemn the deliberate killing of civilians everywhere.
Your article gives succour to the extremism of ISIL and would-be followers, you are basically saying that civilised society should not hunt them down and kill them, are you saying that the hate and revulsion that balanced society felt at the Paris shootings should be tempered by love. Isil is a medieval society, who amongst other things, dominate women to slavery, kill homosexuals and other sexually orientated people, they will kill people who practise free speech, they are taught that it their duty to kill all Christens and all people who are not of their faith which is a pure Wahhabism faith. The separation of Church and state is a hatred to them and to many other faiths of Muslim who live amongst us. The kindness shown to refugees of Muslim faith by Western countries is appreciated by many Muslims but amongst them are the haters, killers and terrorists. Across the World Muslim leaders are saying they condemn the violence, but why do they want Sharia if not to isolate themselves from Western Values and to preach daily their hatred of 'separation of Church and State'. We are at war with Isil not because we declared war but because Isil declared war on the Western free World and a added problem is that we have a massive fith-columnist group of Muslims who, because they will not accept Western principles of Western democracy, are against us rather than for us. I sincerely hope your article is seen as folly by your followers and any leftists who reads it. Thanks for the chance to comment.
"That the world is so full of these evils must never daunt us, nor persuade us to abandon love for hate; justice for revenge."
Good point. If you look at the American right at the moment, they have done just that.
Bravo Chris, One of your best posts.
If you have not read Krugman's response, you should.
It never happened. Nothing ever happened. Even while it was happening it wasn't happening. It didn't matter. It was of no interest . The crimes of the U.S. throughout the world have been systematic, constant, clinical, remorseless, and fully documented but nobody talks about them. No body ever has .
Substitute West for USA and you've got it.
It's not the left that have called for a complete ban on refugees entering Europe or the US. It's not the left that have characterised the refugees as rapists and murderers. It's not the left that conflates terrorists and Muslims. It's not the left that wants to invade the Middle East – again. (How did that turn out for ya?) But in the good old right-wing way they managed to bring out the soundbites that simplify a complex situation for their low information voters. And it's not the left that are providing Isis with exactly what they want, which is a belligerent war. So yes, I think the left is morally superior to the right at least in this case – sorry Charles :-).
The Saudi Connection...
An article about Saudi Arabia's involvement in ISIL and how it came about.
"Summing up the state of U.S.-Saudi relations, Steve Clemons, director of the American Strategy Program at the New America Foundation, said the Bush administration “thinks the Saudis are no longer behaving [i][b]the role of the good vassal,”[/i][/b] (emphasis mine) while the Saudis “see weakness, they see a void, and they’re going to fill the void and call their own shots.”
So they did, and today’s bloodthirsty Islamic State — born out of the remnants of Saddam’s army and the Saudi-funded Sunni insurgency — is the result. In the words of veteran Middle East reporter Patrick Cockburn, “Saudi Arabia has created a Frankenstein’s monster over which it is rapidly losing control.”
In view of this history, Saudi Arabia’s alleged snub of the Obama administration is small beer indeed. Memories in Washington must be short indeed if anyone really believes the two countries had smooth relations in times past. On the contrary, many of America’s most difficult foreign policy challenges today reflect the deadly consequences of our profound disagreements with Saudi Arabia."
Guerilla Surgeon, your comment seems to take some satisfaction from the latest terrorist attack in Paris, you say the 'left' is completely blameless. There will be on-going polemic about the cause of the rise of Isil/ Wahhabism, from theory it will be one or the other of the war against Hussains Iraq, removal of Gaddafi, the Palestine problem, Iran/Shia, Assad/ Syria/ Russia, the Burqua, Nato and of course the Jews. There will be other polemic. We also have the bombing of the Twin Towers which happened 'before' the above. Politically and Religiously both so-called left and right are in the mix. Self deception is a virus which affects many people, I suggest you see your Doctor and please spare a thought for the victims in Paris and Bueirut or are they not 'left'.
I don't see how you could get "satisfaction from the terrorist attacks" from what I wrote, which was perfectly clear, unlike your post. I was in fact replying to Charles E, who suggested that the left are not morally superior in this instance. I gave instances of the right-wing reaction to the attacks, none of which contribute a great deal to solving the problem, either of religious extremism or terrorist attacks. Largely because that is exactly the response that Isis wants. Now suit yourself as to what I believe, you obviously have some form of psychic powers, but please, please get an editor.
Well, President Hollande is certainly calling for the defeat of ISIS, and most people would regard him as being of the Left.
Not many people are calling for a reprise of Iraq 2003, whether they are Left or Right. But many people are saying that a stepped up campaign against ISIS is essential, and this is generally understood to mean a greater role for special forces.
New Zealand is quite likely to be asked to assist in that.
I was on the Tube platform in London when the bombs were detonated in 2005. I was horrified that any group could justify taking the lives of innocent people under the guise of some righteous campaign. Dropping bombs from a plane or carrying them in a backpack makes little difference when they detonate. Extinguishing any innocent life is an unjustifiable crime.
From "Mission Accomplished" in 2003 until the surge of ISIS in 2014, Iraq Body Count documented 128,000 civilian deaths. We hear very little about the Hell on Earth that sprung from our military adventure. To put that loss of innocent life in perspective, the total number of Australian and New Zealand war dead from both World Wars stands at just under 107,000. The enormity of the humanitarian disaster is almost impossible to comprehend and is considerably more than a similar Paris atrocity every week for a decade. All this resulted from the willingness of our governments to unleash the military "in the name of peace" all those years ago.
The lauded "precision" of Drone strikes are no better. Recent leaks of military data show that nearly 90 percent of those killed in drone airstrikes were "unintended" targets. The human rights group Reprieve documented in 2014 that when 41 men were targeted 1,147 people were killed.
To quote a resident of Raqqa: "What the world needs to know is that we live under ISIL control on the ground, and constant air strikes from the sky. We are trapped,"
Our willingness to wrap ourselves in flags and beat the drums of war, sadly, appears unabated.
How come we seem to stumble from one ill-conceived armed intervention and attack to another?
Surely no-one wants to continue this destruction of a state, a country's culture and finest achievements, its people's lives and wellbeing, its infrastructure, it's environment and life giving fertility? We will end up looking like the moon or Mars, which appear to be the latest obssession of the blase elites. Is this the plan, presuming that the warped brains of elites are capable of such, remembering developing the nuclear bomb, and the decision to drop it after a fairly short consultation period over a few days?
The Bilderberg Group came to me, so I checked on it. People from all over the world meet in elite surroundings, their discussions not recorded or reported, and who pays for it by the way. And why if this is to serve a good purpose in the world, do we not see a cessation of the mad hostility and gamesmanship presently prevalent?
An extract from this Independent item:
We know what's on the agenda
Flags-Greece-Reuters.jpgPrior to meetings the group releases broad subject areas for debate. This year, all we know is that they'll be discussing "Artificial Intelligence, Cybersecurity, Chemical Weapons Threats, Current Economic Issues, European Strategy, Globalisation, Greece, Iran, Middle East, NATO, Russia, Terrorism, United Kingdom, USA, US Elections".
'A lot of these subjects hints are very broad-ranging. 'United Kingdom', for instance, could be a reference to the Brexit, the recent elections, or both."
More - http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-13682082
This list of participants does not appear to have any from the Middle East. Turkey is nearest. Yet the Bush administration had been close to the Saudis for many years. Also Australia is not listed, but Canada is.
GS I'm not going to childishly list the crimes of the left as some tit for tat. Pathetic, fully covers your listing your spin on what you choose to pin on the right. Your silly one-eyed mirror image from the right would probably start with about 100 million dead last century at the hands of the wonderful communist & socialist regimes we were blessed with, and which were supported and lauded by people just like you on the left. Although you so predictably would no doubt retort some bollocks like 'Oh they were not left wing .....' and so on it goes...
It's probably beyond you, but left and right are not measures of morality.
GS, LOL, I am psychic, a school teacher.
Just who were these "Communist & Socialist regimes" Charles? There has never been a Communist lead country anywhere in the world as well you know. Trying to score points again, ye with the crystal ball who can see who will win the next UK election?
In all of your response the only true thing you said was "It's probably beyond you, but Left and Right are not measures of morality." The rest is just Rightwing self righteousness.
Let's look at last century; Franco, Salazar, Pinochet, Saudi Royal Family, Junta in Greece et al, in all none of those were Left Charles. They killed millions between them. Who was supporting them Charlie boy? Who was financing them, arming them and so on? Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot were never "Communist" or even "Socialist." THEY WERE FASCIST!! Get your head out of the rightwing clouds. .
Charles – "people like me" did not support the Communist regimes that slaughtered millions of people. Just as people like you - I presume – did not support the Nazi regime that killed millions of people. Now having got that aside, what I was talking about were right-wing politicians and commentators today reacting in exactly the way that Isis wants them to. Bombastic rhetoric, calls for invasion, boots on the ground blah blah blah. Its been tried before, it didn't work, you people never learn.
As I said, I don't know the answer necessarily, but I would say this we would have to stabilise the Middle East and get rid of the conditions that produced Isis. Some form of limited military action may be necessary. But nowhere near the rhetoric put forward by your right-wing friends.
Not to mention the calls for banning all refugees, and suggesting they are all rapists and murderers – similar to John Key and the New Zealand prisoners actually, and about as true. Forgetting that these people are actually fleeing from Isis in the main. Could we please remember the lessons of Vietnam. Insurgents try to provoke repressive reactions from governments for various reasons, and if you do it you play into their hands. Standard guerrilla warfare. About which you obviously know nothing.
Wayne, you also seem to have missed my point. Yes Hollande is left-wing and yes he has called for the defeat of Isis. It's probably political suicide for him not to do anything else, and he's obviously in an emotional state as well. The question is though how do you defeat Isis? As I have explained to Charles is not just a simple question of bombing people. FFS – every time you kill an innocent civilian people join the opposition. Every time you burst into someone's house in the banlieue of Paris and terrify someone's mother, someone at least THINKS about joining Isis. And if "not many" people are calling for a reprise of 2003, I presume you have some sort of figures for that? Because every right-wing website around the world, including some quite respectable ones are saying far more than that.
Let's hope the West has some sense and start analysing why people are joining these fanatical groups well actually they have done it, and they should be able to use these levers to potentially shut it down. But not while conservatives are leaping up and down screaming for blood.
And while I'm in the vicinity of the computer Chas, I just like to say that I am probably just about everybody else on this site is getting a little bit sick of being accused of approving the massacres of Stalin and Mao Zedong. We have constantly and consistently told you that a) we are too young to have been involved :-) and b) we fucking well don't approve. So could you please take a hint? And not ONE of us has implied that you were standing on the sidelines cheering as Hitler sent the Jews into the concentration camps, however much we might have been tempted. Because that WOULD be childish.
A good Clip:
It might be a good clip, but it's been withdrawn for 'copyright reasons'– pity.
I find it interesting that these recent attacks have been on two extra-regional powers involved in Syria but not, till now, primarily involved in fighting ISIS.
France's involvement has been more slanted to helping the non-ISIS rebels against Assad. Conversely, the Russians (rhetoric notwithstanding) have been propping up Assad against the non-ISIS rebels.
It's as if ISIS actually wants all the "Christian" extra-regional powers fully concentrated on their struggle with itself, perhaps because it wants to bring the "End Days" closer or perhaps simply because of a brand-building urge to be centre stage.
Either way, as Simon Jenkins suggests in the Guardian, it's unwise to give your enemies what they want.
Back up again GS. Dunno wot happened there but just checked it again.
If'n you have a mind to you can D/L it from here:
I took the precaution of D/L'ing it fearing that it would slide off YT.
Victor – Isis is losing territory – a lot. It needs to ramp the conflict up to be able to get more converts I suspect.
Agreed. That's one reason why "brand building" is important to it. But I doubt that this is a "single cause" phenomenon.
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