Democrats like to label Republicans, particularly Tea Party people, “extremists.” The recent kerfuffle over the “birthers” gave Democratic media types like David Gregory and the MSNBC “pundits” the opportunity to smear non-Democrats as paranoid conspiracy mongers. The attempt to tar the right with responsibility for the Tuscon atrocity is another example.
Yet Republicans are really rank amateurs when it comes to conspiracy mongering. James Piereson, author of Camelot and the Cultural Revolution: How the Assassination of John F. Kennedy Shattered American Liberalism (Encounter Books, 2007), dates the beginning of serious modern left wing paranoia to the successful campaign of the Kennedy family and JFK’s hagiographers to portray Kennedy as a “civil rights martyr.” This campaign was perhaps a well-meaning attempt to use Kennedy’s murder to rally public opinion in favor of civil rights legislation that was going nowhere before November 22nd, 1963. Jackie Kennedy modeled her husband’s funeral after Lincoln’s who, you could convincingly argue, was a martyr to the anti-slavery cause.
But the inconvenient truth is that Kennedy, if he was a martyr to anything, died in the struggle to save the world from Communism. Lee Harvey Oswald, Kennedy’s assassin, was a pro-Castro Communist who emigrated to the Soviet Union and who attempted unsuccessfully to murder a high official in what was then the organization embodying right wing paranoia, the John Birch Society. Oswald was certainly a supporter of the civil rights movement, so Kennedy’s murder had nothing to do with the struggles of black Americans.
As Piereson indicates, the insistence of the Kennedy people that JFK’s murder be used to support civil rights legislation caused a great deal of confusion in the country and is responsible for the fact that an incredibly large number of Americans, not to mention foreigners, still refuse to accept the fact that Kennedy was killed by a lone Communist fanatic.
Kennedy’s assassination and the paranoia it produced led to what we now call “The 60’s” and all the nonsense about that generation’s being “the most intelligent, most moral generation in all of human history.”
When I heard Obama say the other night that he would not release photos of bin Laden’s corpse because that “isn’t who we are,” I sensed that Obama believes American history began in 1963 (or 1967, during the “Summer of Love”?). Do you think that when Lincoln allowed William Tecumseh Sherman to march through the South pillaging and burning along the way, anyone said to him: Abe, this isn’t who we are. This Long March is bringing immense suffering to women, children, old people and slaves.
When we firebombed Tokyo and dropped two atom bombs, there may have been a few who had qualms, but the real orgy of moral preening began during the 60’s when the “revisionists” attempted to make Truman and Churchill into war criminals.
Of course this left wing conspiracy mongering continued with 9/11 and continues today in the aftermath of bin Laden’s “extra-judicial murder.” It’s source? The usual place: the professoriat and other really smart people.
Here’s Christopher Hitchens on the recent silliness from professor Noam Chomsky and other prominent “gurus of the left”:
…Ten years ago, apparently sharing the consensus that 9/11 was indeed the work of al-Qaida, [Chomsky] wrote that it was no worse an atrocity than President Clinton’s earlier use of cruise missiles against Sudan in retaliation for the bomb attacks on the centers of Nairobi and Dar es Salaam. (I haven’t been back to check on whether he conceded that those embassy bombings were also al-Qaida’s work to begin with.) He is still arguing loudly for moral equivalence, maintaining that the Abbottabad, Pakistan, strike would justify a contingency whereby “Iraqi commandos landed at George W. Bush’s compound, assassinated him, and dumped his body in the Atlantic.” (Indeed, equivalence might be a weak word here, since he maintains that, “uncontroversially, [Bush’s] crimes vastly exceed bin Laden’s.”) So the main new element is the one of intriguing mystery. The Twin Towers came down, but it’s still anyone’s guess who did it. Since “April 2002, [when] the head of the FBI, Robert Mueller, informed the press that after the most intensive investigation in history, the FBI could say no more than that it ‘believed’ that the plot was hatched in Afghanistan,” no evidence has been adduced. “Nothing serious,” as Chomsky puts it, “has been provided since.”
Chomsky still enjoys some reputation both as a scholar and a public intellectual. And in the face of bombardments of official propaganda, he prides himself in a signature phrase on his stern insistence on “turning to the facts.” So is one to assume that he has pored through the completed findings of the 9/11 Commission? Viewed any of the videos in which the 9/11 hijackers are seen in the company of Bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri? Read the transcripts of the trial of Zacarias Moussaoui, the so-called “20th hijacker”? Followed the journalistic investigations of Lawrence Wright, Peter Bergen, or John Burns, to name only some of the more salient? Acquainted himself with the proceedings of associated and ancillary investigations into the bombing of the USS Cole or indeed the first attempt to bring down the Twin Towers in the 1990s?
With the paranoid anti-war “left,” you never quite know where the emphasis is going to fall next. At the Telluride Film Festival in 2002, I found myself debating Michael Moore, who, a whole year after the attacks, maintained that Bin Laden was “innocent until proved guilty” (and hadn’t been proven guilty). Except that he had, at least according to Moore one day after the attacks, when he wrote that: “WE created the monster known as Osama bin Laden! Where did he go to terrorist school? At the CIA!” So, innocent unless tainted by association with Langley, Va., which did seem to have some heartland flying schools under surveillance before 2001 but which seemed sluggish on the uptake regarding them. For quite some time, in fact, the whole anti-Bush “narrative” involved something rather like collusion with the evil Bin Laden crime family, possibly based on mutual interests in the oil industry. So guilty was Bin Laden, in fact, that he was allowed to prepare for a new Pearl Harbor on American soil by a spineless Republican administration that had ignored daily briefings on the mounting threat. Gore Vidal was able to utter many croaking and suggestive lines to this effect, hinting at a high-level betrayal of the republic.
And then came those who, impatient with mere innuendo, directly accused the administration of rocketing its own Pentagon and bringing about a “controlled demolition” of the World Trade Center. This grand scenario seemed to have a few loose planes left over, since the ones that hit the towers were only a grace note to the more ruthless pre-existing sabotage and the ones in Virginia and Pennsylvania, complete with passengers and crews and hijackers, somehow just went missing.
It’s no criticism of Chomsky to say that his analysis is inconsistent with that of other individuals and factions who essentially think that 9/11 was a hoax. However, it is remarkable that he should write as if the mass of evidence against Bin Laden has never been presented or could not have been brought before a court. This form of 9/11 denial doesn’t trouble to conceal an unstated but self-evident premise, which is that the United States richly deserved the assault on its citizens and its civil society. After all, as Chomsky phrases it so tellingly, our habit of “naming our murder weapons after victims of our crimes: Apache, Tomahawk … [is] as if the Luftwaffe were to call its fighter planes ‘Jew’ and ‘Gypsy.’ ” Perhaps this is not so true in the case of Tomahawk, which actually is the name of a weapon, but the point is at least as good as any other he makes.
In short, we do not know who organized the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, or any other related assaults, though it would be a credulous fool who swallowed the (unsupported) word of Osama Bin Laden that his group was the one responsible. An attempt to kidnap or murder an ex-president of the United States (and presumably, by extension, the sitting one) would be as legally justified as the hit on Abbottabad. And America is an incarnation of the Third Reich that doesn’t even conceal its genocidal methods and aspirations. This is the sum total of what has been learned, by the guru of the left, in the last decade.
And then British historian Andrew Roberts on the British versions of Chomsky and company:
…[My] countrymen’s reactions to the death of Osama bin Laden have made me doubt my pride in being British.
The foul outpouring of sneering anti-Americanism, legalistic quibbling, and concern for the supposed human rights of our modern Hitler have left me squirming in embarrassment and apology before my American friends. Yet what I most despise my fellow Britons for is their absolute refusal, publicly or even privately, to celebrate the most longed-for news in a decade…
Douglas Murray, the associate director of the Henry Jackson Society, told the BBC’s flagship program “Question Time” last Thursday that he felt “elated” at the news, he was booed, heckled and almost shouted down.
Another panelist, the writer Yasmin Alibhai Brown, was applauded when she said she was “depressed” by the killing, as it “demeans a democracy and a president who has shown himself to be the Ugly American. He’s degraded American democracy, which had already degraded itself through torture and rendition.” The former Liberal Party leader Paddy Ashdown was then cheered when he said: “I cannot rejoice on the killing of any man. I belong to a country that is founded on the principle of exercise of due process of law,” as though the United States was founded on some other idea.
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, told reporters: “I think the killing of an unarmed man is always going to leave a very uncomfortable feeling because it doesn’t look as if justice is seen to be done.” Writer Henry Porter whined about “vital moral issues” in the Guardian. Add to that lawyers Geoffrey Robertson in the Daily Beast and Michael Mansfield in the Guardian defending bin Laden’s human rights, and a commentator on the radio station LBC saying that no one should celebrate the death because “we live in a multicultural society,” and you can see how utterly degenerate modern Britain has become when it comes to prosecuting the war against terror.
Of course, all the people so far quoted (except Mr. Murray) come from the salaried commentariat, who might be expected to parrot liberal and establishment pieties. The reason I am so worried is that ordinary people I met in London last week shared their pusillanimity.
There was the lady at a cocktail party who told me “It’s those gun-toting Yanks at it again.” There was my son’s classics teacher informing his young charges that he thought bin Laden deserved the “dignity” of a fair trial. And there was the letter about the U.S. celebrations to the conservative-leaning Daily Telegraph stating that terrorist cells “will be further fuelled by those inappropriate reactions by people who should have known better.” How? How, Ms. Tess Hyland of Bathurst, could al Qaeda possibly hate us more than they do already?
To the man who told me he didn’t believe bin Laden was buried at sea “according to Muslim rites,” I repeat that Mussolini was hung upside down on a meathook and then urinated upon. And as for those people who genuinely thought that the United Nations and Pakistan should have been informed of the raid beforehand, Lord, give me strength!
For the past five years, I’ve been writing a history of the Second World War, and if there is one central lesson I have taken from this study, it is that the intestinal fortitude of a people matters much more than weaponry, economics or even grand strategy. British fortitude was tested almost to breaking point in 1940 and 1941, and Russian fortitude in 1941-43, but they held, whereas Germany’s and Japan’s collapsed in 1945. Morale is almost impossible to quantify, whereas demoralization is all too evident.
From Britain’s pathetic and ignoble reaction to the death of our greatest ally’s No.1 foe, I fear for our fortitude in the continuing war against terror. The British government in London and the British Army in Afghanistan are magnificent, but if the people themselves are shot through with what Winston Churchill called “the long, drawling, dismal tides of drift and surrender,” I wonder whether we can be counted upon for much longer…
Today all I feel is shame at my country’s pathetic reaction to your own great day of joy