Thursday, February 24, 2005

Seeing Red

Nick Cohen has written an interesting editorial about London's Mayor 'Red Ken' Livingstone's public embrace of Egyptian Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi. The London Sheikh has publicized his hatred for women, gays and unbelievers. 'Pseudo-leftist' Red Ken has aligned himself with him as the 'leader of a great world religion,' and a symbol of British oppression, but at the cost of eroding liberal values:
[Mayor Livingstone] doesn't seem to realise that this bland formulation is cover for a deeply reactionary manoeuvre which is being practised across the Western pseudo-left. First they define 'communities' by their religion. Then they assumed that misogynist and anti-democratic practitioners of that religion are the true leaders of their communities. The inevitable consequence is that liberals, socialists and feminists in the poor world are betrayed. They look to the Western homes of liberalism, socialism and feminism and are greeted with indifference or spite.

Last year Iraqi, Jordanian and Tunisian writers organised a petition to the United Nations by 2,500 Arab intellectuals which condemned 'individuals in the Muslim world who pose as clerics and issue death sentences against those they disagree with. These individuals give Islam a bad name and foster hatred among civilizations.' Prominent in their list of the 'sheikhs of death' was one Yusuf al-Qaradawi. Just as the British anti-war movement chose to turn its back on the eight million Iraqis who defied the murderers and voted, Livingstone has chosen to ignore the Arab left and offer comfort to its enemies.

...As inevitable as betrayal is award-winning hypocrisy. In the name of anti-racism, Livingstone perpetuates the stereotype of the Muslim as a death-obsessed, woman-hating, queer-bashing cheerleader for suicide bombers. In the name of multi-culturalism, he talks as if something in the water supply of the Islamic world, or maybe an obscure genetic mutation means that one billion people actually want to be ruled by priests.
Cohen essentially posits that leftists are undermining liberalism by ennobling any minority group claiming victimhood, including al-Qaradawi's ilk. And since 'left' and 'liberal' commingle so much, genuine progressive outrage is muted by the betrayal of enlightened principles in the face of religious fascists. Such are the times.

President Bush is an unlikely defender of liberalism. Perhaps that's part of the reason why he is so abused by progressives, who know they should be carrying the sword. It's difficult to ascertain how much 'Red Ken' there is within the liberal parties of the West. The liberal Prime Minister Tony Blair has extracted some of his party from the self-immolation of leftist realpolik. In contrast to Blair, leftists like Mayor Livingstone represent a political strain that is no less dogmatic than the Medieval ravings of the Egyptian sheik who struts among them. Dogmatism defines leftists and Jihadists equally. Indeed, Red Ken is to liberals what Osama bin Laden is to Muslims.

The 'War of Civilization' that threatens to erupt might only truly arrive when one civilization is betrayed. Leftists appear to be comfortable with forsaking progressive liberalism to wage their many causes. In an era of appeasement, self-doubting liberals are sinking the progressive ship by allowing leftist bilge to gather. There will be many things appeasers will give away to the radicals -- both leftists and Islamofascists alike -- before there's a war of civilizations.

Appeasement requires the slow, steady betrayal of core values in the face of tyranny. Israel could be the last concession to the sheiks of the New Caliphate, and the troops of the Red Ken Brigade -- the equivalent of giving Hitler the Sudetenland. The popularizing view that democratic, secular Israel is merely Zion is a moral concession that has already been given to the fascists. If the day comes that liberals promoting leftist politics can give Israel the Sudetenland treatment, the appeasement chest will at last be empty, just as it was in 1938. And then there will be war.