Politics & Policy

Beasts and Slaves

On the antiwar movement.

By NR Editors , from the February 10, 2003, issue of National Review

The antiwar demonstration in Washington, D.C., showed the debasement of the Left. The New York Times characterized “many” of the marchers as “skeptical and frustrated citizens,” who belonged to no organized group. No doubt that is true, even as it is true that most of the people who watch a bull fight are not matadors.

But the organizers are another matter. ANSWER (Act Now to Stop War and End Racism), which the Washington Post called an “activist coalition,” is in fact a front for the Workers World party, a Trotskyite cult that split from the Socialist Workers party in order to endorse the Soviet invasion of Hungary in 1956. The WWP thus managed to embrace both Trotskyism and Stalinism — a neat trick. Half a century later, they are still in the streets, trying to fasten onto any convenient cause, while the same useful idiots (Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, Jessica Lange) are willing to march along with them.

The rhetoric of the antiwar Left reeks with the formaldehyde of irrelevance. How will supporting Iraq end racism? (Saddam is notoriously tough on his minorities.) Demonstrators repeated the mantra that Bush was going to war for the sake of oil. Yet the Middle East supplies a shrinking share of the world oil market, and . . . But never mind, it’s not worth debating. Some antiwarriors in San Francisco have remade Lyndon Johnson’s poisonous 1964 “Daisy” commercial, which accused Barry Goldwater of risking Armageddon. At least in 1964 there were two nuclear-armed superpowers. The point of threatening Iraq now is to make sure that it never becomes one.

It was wicked for an earlier generation of leftists to ally themselves, tacitly or proudly, with Communist powers. But Communism used a universalist rhetoric that could lull the seriously inattentive. Nowadays the antiwar Left finds itself allied with regimes whose only claim to our attention is their thuggery. Saddam Hussein (and Kim Jong Il — wait for the demonstrations in his behalf) have no intelligible ideology, no goal beyond survival and oppression. Yet the American Left embraces them. Not, primarily, because they admire their societies, though Iraq and North Korea express a will to power that must speak to a similar urge in them. The Left supports them in order to hate America — its system, its leaders, its power; after 9/11, its dead. The antiwar leftists are slaves, in bed with beasts. The “skeptical and frustrated citizens” who march with them shirk the responsibilities of rational advocacy.