May 22, 2005


Leaving the left: I can no longer abide the simpering voices of self-styled progressives -- people who once championed solidarity (Keith Thompson, May 22, 2005, SF Chronicle)

Nightfall, Jan. 30. Eight-million Iraqi voters have finished risking their lives to endorse freedom and defy fascism. Three things happen in rapid succession. The right cheers. The left demurs. I walk away from a long-term intimate relationship. I'm separating not from a person but a cause: the political philosophy that for more than three decades has shaped my character and consciousness, my sense of self and community, even my sense of cosmos.

I'm leaving the left -- more precisely, the American cultural left and what it has become during our time together.

I choose this day for my departure because I can no longer abide the simpering voices of self-styled progressives -- people who once championed solidarity with oppressed populations everywhere -- reciting all the ways Iraq's democratic experiment might yet implode.

My estrangement hasn't happened overnight. Out of the corner of my eye I watched what was coming for more than three decades, yet refused to truly see. Now it's all too obvious. Leading voices in America's "peace" movement are actually cheering against self-determination for a long-suffering Third World country because they hate George W. Bush more than they love freedom.

Like many others who came of age politically in the 1960s, I became adept at not taking the measure of the left's mounting incoherence. To face it directly posed the danger that I would have to describe it accurately, first to myself and then to others. That could only give aid and comfort to Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter and all the other Usual Suspects the left so regularly employs to keep from seeing its own reflection in the mirror.

Now, I find myself in a swirling metamorphosis. Think Kafka, without the bug. Think Kuhnian paradigm shift, without the buzz. Every anomaly that didn't fit my perceptual set is suddenly back, all the more glaring for so long ignored. The insistent inner voice I learned to suppress now has my rapt attention. "Something strange -- something approaching pathological -- something entirely of its own making -- has the left in its grip," the voice whispers. "How did this happen?" The Iraqi election is my tipping point.

If you've friends and/or family who've had a similar experience, or had it yourself, you'll recognize the feeling that it's almost as if the scales quite literally fall from one's eyes. He may be a nutter, but he's our nutter now.

Posted by Orrin Judd at May 22, 2005 10:11 AM

Unfortunately here in MA most of the people I meet/know are still yelling about Abu Grab and missing WMDs to ackowledge the increase in democracy in the Middle East.

Posted by: AWW at May 22, 2005 3:41 PM

For me it was 9/11.

While arguing politics at my alma mater's sports message board, on of my many liberal antagonists (there are only 2 of us on the right, a dozen or more on the left) wrote, "Why is it that the born-again are the most adamant, argumantative and one-sided?"

I think it is because, once we realize the damage done with our support, we feel we have an obligation to correct it and to spread the word. For years I suppressed thoughts that I was supporting things that I knew were wrong. The scales have truly fallen away.

Posted by: Pat H at May 22, 2005 4:02 PM

Pat: An Irish village of 100 souls had only two Jews. One year, one of the Jews ran for mayor. He lost, 98-2. One of the others commented, "Those Jews are nice enough fellas, but awfully clannish."

Posted by: David Cohen at May 22, 2005 10:50 PM

He can't quite bring himself to say the truth: that it is not what the Left has become that is despicable, but that it has always been that way.

Posted by: Ben Lange at May 23, 2005 12:58 AM

Too soon old and too late smart. The rot was obvious to me when I moved to New York in 1975. By the time Dihimmi Carter was done, I was not a liberal anymore.

Posted by: Robert Schwartz at May 23, 2005 1:36 PM
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