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Why Liberalism Has a Bad Name

Monday, 07 March 2005 12:00 AM

Michael Tomasky is a more intelligent leftist than vanden Heuvel, but he is a leftist nonetheless. Here is the way the Kirkus reviewer described Tomasky's "Left for Dead: The Life, Death and Possible Resurrection of Progressive Politics in America": "a thoughtful, goodnatured critique of the left by one of its longtime supporters."

Peter Beinart is also a leftist, but a moderate one who could plausibly be called a liberal. He wrote a sharp critique of the left in The New Republic calling on liberals to purge Communist fellow travelers from their ranks. Beinart referred to them as "Wallacites" after the late fellow-traveling Henry Wallace. Katrina vanden Heuvel would be a prime candidate for such a purge.

Unfortunately, Beinart was intimidated in the interview session by the two leftists present and, I would guess, by the Times' own political sympathies, which are also to his left. Under this pressure Beinart came up with this howler, which he probably already regrets: "There is no question that this war is going very, very badly."

Peter, a war is going very, very badly when Katrina and her friends force the United States to throw in the towel and the other side enters the capital cities of the beleaguered country as conquerors who proceed to slaughter two-and-a-half-million innocents, as the progressives in Cambodia and Vietnam did 30 years ago.

In the present case, the Iraqis have won their freedom with (dominant) American military support, and the terrorists are on the run. Moreover, the events in Iraq are inspiring a freedom movement throughout the Arab world. This happens when a war is going well.

The first question the Times interviewer asked the trio was this: "Why has 'liberal' become a dirty word for so many Americans today?"

Katrina: "I would being with the unrelenting assault on the term liberalism by the right wing." Tomasky agreed.

Beinart sidestepped the issue and tried bravely, but ultimately without success, to focus attention on the failure of those on the left to support the war for democracy in Iraq and the Arab world, to put it mildly.

Here's the reason liberal has become a dirty word. Because Communists, fellow-travelers, pro-terrorists and terrorist sympathizers have hijacked the word liberal and because organs like the New York Times have abetted them, using "liberal" to describe anti-American radicals and even totalitarian radicals like Noam Chomsky, Ward Churchill, Michael Moore, the organizers of the anti-Iraq and pro-Saddam "peace" movement, and Katrina vanden Heuvel and The Nation.

The nation's last truly liberal leader, a pro-Vietnam-war Democrat named Hubert Humphrey, had his presidential chances destroyed by the pro-Communist Tom Hayden and the Yippes nearly 40 years ago. Hayden, who even today is working to defeat America in Iraq, is invariably referred to by institutions like the New York Times as a liberal.

Wrong. I am a liberal – a believer in free markets and free individuals, a supporter of intellectual diversity on college campuses against the opposition of the ACLU, the AAUP, The Nation, and the progressive left generally (with one exception known to me).

When the cultural arbiters like the Times stop referring to totalitarians and anti-American radicals as liberals, the good name of liberalism will start the long road back to being a good name. Peter Beinart has made a stab at beginning this process. But if he continues to be cowed by the likes of Katrina vanden Heuvel, he's not going to get very far.

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Michael Tomasky is a more intelligent leftist than vanden Heuvel, but he is a leftist nonetheless. Here is the way the Kirkus reviewer described Tomasky's "Left for Dead:The Life, Death and Possible Resurrection of Progressive Politics in America": "a thoughtful,...
Why,Liberalism,Has,Bad,Name
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2005-00-07
Monday, 07 March 2005 12:00 AM
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