April 17, 2004

More Chill Wind

Some thoughts from Norm Geras on the silencing of dissent supposedly experienced by certain antiwar leftists:

...how on earth could individuals belonging to a global movement of millions of people, and whose point of view had widespread representation in the world's media, being in some sectors of this almost suffocating - how could these individuals have seen themselves as 'surrounded' and their dissent as under pressure, under threat of being silenced? I wonder if what they're saying is a displacement of something else which they may have acutely felt: namely a painful discomfort at the substance of what the critics of their position kept pointing out - that if their view had prevailed it would have meant the survival of quite monstrous regimes of murder, torture and political and social oppression. If any of them did feel the force of this discomfort as surrounding and discouraging them, then that is in some measure to their credit. But it still ain't the silencing of dissent.

This "displacement" that Norm talks about is akin to something I have been trying to put my finger on to explain some of the intense hatred of George Bush by much of the liberal left. There is a palpable denial by a certain segment of the left that we are indeed "at war" at all. John Kerry, their standard bearer, has called the terror threat "an exaggeration", and despite a long pre-Bush track record of terrorist attacks on America, I think Bush is seen as a symbol, and a regular reminder of a war that some people would prefer to continue denying. It's classic "shoot the messenger" thinking.

I think they harbor the delusion that if we could rid ourselves of Bush, we could all go back to our pre-9/11 comfort zone. As side benefits I suppose, European governments would embrace us, the U.N. would become credible and effective, and Islamic terror would fade from the scene. My sense is that much of what is channelled into hatred of George Bush is rooted in fear and denial.

And the denial is not only that the war continues, and will continue. It is also a denial that what the coalition has accomplished in Afghanistan and Iraq is a manifestly good thing. So the man whose leadership and resolve has resulted in the liberation of 50 million people is smeared personally and "reinvented" as the problem, instead of part of the solution. And to serve that agenda, all consideration of what is good for the United States of America gets set aside as a secondary concern.

Posted by dan at April 17, 2004 9:49 PM