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Hitchens on “phoney peaceniks”

Posted by Richard on September 27, 2005

Christopher Hitchens is a member of what seems like an endangered species: the anti-totalitarian left. I’ve quoted him before, in a look at what I called "voices of sanity on the left." Today in Slate, Hitchens described the organizing forces behind Saturday’s "anti-war" demonstration in Washington, providing a somewhat more detailed picture than the bland, innocuous description offered by a NY Times reporter:

The name of the reporter on this story was Michael Janofsky. I suppose that it is possible that he has never before come across "International ANSWER," the group run by the "Worker’s World" party and fronted by Ramsey Clark, which openly supports Kim Jong-il, Fidel Castro, Slobodan Milosevic, and the "resistance" in Afghanistan and Iraq, with Clark himself finding extra time to volunteer as attorney for the génocidaires in Rwanda. Quite a "wide range of progressive political objectives" indeed, if that’s the sort of thing you like.

Hitchens was no more enamored of the other sponsoring group, United for Peace and Justice — which the Times described as having "a more narrow, antiwar focus." He saw it as an Old/New Left alliance:

some of it honorable and some of it redolent of the World Youth Congresses that used to bring credulous priests and fellow-traveling hacks together to discuss "peace" in East Berlin or Bucharest. Just to give you an example, from one who knows the sectarian makeup of the Left very well, I can tell you that the Worker’s World Party—Ramsey Clark’s core outfit—is the product of a split within the Trotskyist movement. These were the ones who felt that the Trotskyist majority, in 1956, was wrong to denounce the Russian invasion of Hungary. The WWP is the direct, lineal product of that depraved rump. If the "United for Peace and Justice" lot want to sink their differences with such riffraff and mount a joint demonstration, then they invite some principled political criticism on their own account.

So, what kind of anti-war movement has at its core a group that was born out of support for the 1956 Hungary invasion and more recently defended Kim Jong-il, Fidel Castro, and perpetrators of genocide in the Serbia and Rwanda? Hitchens argued that it’s not an anti-war movement at all (emphasis added):

To be against war and militarism, in the tradition of Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht, is one thing. But to have a record of consistent support for war and militarism, from the Red Army in Eastern Europe to the Serbian ethnic cleansers and the Taliban, is quite another. It is really a disgrace that the liberal press refers to such enemies of liberalism as "antiwar" when in reality they are straight-out pro-war, but on the other side.

There’s more, and as they say, read the whole thing.

Honorable and reasonable people opposed the invasion of Iraq, including many libertarians. Some are people I admire, like, and consider friends. But as far back as the earliest pre-invasion demonstrations, I argued that regardless of one’s position on Iraq, no decent person should participate in, lend support to, or join forces with any "anti-war" movement organized and run by the totalitarian scum of International ANSWER and the Worker’s World Party.

It disgusted me when one of the leaders of the Colorado Libertarian Party enthusiastically participated in an ANSWER rally and wrote a gushing description in the state newsletter. It’s one thing to join forces with Republicans to protect gun rights or with Democrats to support medical marijuana. But if you have any decency or principles, you don’t ally yourself with advocates of mass murder and slavery for any purpose.

If you’re opposed to the war against Islamofascism and/or the battle in Iraq, the very fact that such contemptible thugs are the major force that shares your point of view ought to make you think hard.

(HT: Liberty Corner)

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