September 6, 2003

Post 9/11 Gibberish

I saw this essay by Geoffrey Wheatcroft via a link from Pejmanesque a few days ago, but didn't have the chance to read it until last night. Wheatcroft, a writer from The Guardian, opposed the invasion of Iraq, but makes the case in Two Years of Gibberish that the inane pronouncements and fatuous prose from the left has embarrassed and stripped credibility from those with principled objections to the war.

There are numerous quotable and amusing passages in the piece, and you really should take it all in. But I can't help excerpting a few lines below, just for fun:

Maybe there was nothing useful to say, but then writers and performers seldom follow the advice that if you can’t think of anything sensible to say, keep quiet. Silence would have surely been better than the cloud of exotic prose which rose like fumes from the wreckage, as sundry scribblers did their best to justify Karl Kraus’s saying that a journalist is someone who has nothing to say but who knows how to say it...

Wheatcroft goes on to cite many examples of such "gibberish" complete with their "we had it coming", and "root causes" justifications. But...

Because the critics of the Bush administration and Blair government made themselves so ridiculous in the aftermath of 11th September, the proper case against the Iraq war was subsequently much weakened. Sane critics of Bush and Blair must have been embarrassed by the sheer emptiness of the Voices for Peace, one of the instant books which came out in autumn 2001, in which Mark Steel, Ronan Bennett, Annie Lennox ("I’m sorry, but I just don’t get it"), George Monbiot ("Let’s make this the era of collateral repair"), Anita Roddick ("We must shift from a private greed to a public good") and other usual or unusual suspects were rounded up...

So what is it that explains today's liberal left affinity for and with radical Islam, so ideologically opposed are they to religious extremism in other forms? Wheatcroft suggests what it is that they have in common:

Today, credulous doting on Islam is not just an expression of western self-hatred. On the face of it, Islam and the western left have nothing in common at all. But they do, in fact, something profoundly important. They share the common experience of defeat. Islamic terrorism is not a function of success but of failure. As a culture and society, Islam enjoyed a glorious golden age between the 8th and 12th centuries, but it has been in decline for many centuries past, some would say since the first fall of Baghdad.

As the 20th century ended, it saw another great defeat. Marxism-Leninism long predeceased Soviet Russia; even democratic socialism has conceded victory to the competitive free market...... To re-read that catalogue of nonsense from two years ago is to realise that their descendants simply aren’t serious any longer.

Read it all.

Posted by dan at September 6, 2003 8:50 PM