Steven Zak has a new article in Front Page Magazine, David Horowitz’s online rag, attacking the "far-Left" and the "far-Right" for their similarities with "white supremacists" on some key issues: namely, the war on terrorism and neoconservatism.
As the argument goes, today’s paleoconservatives, such as Pat Buchanan, and New Leftists, such as Noam Chomsky — along with libertarian Lew Rockwell, whose name Zak throws in for good measure — agree with each other that (1) the Iraq war was terrible, (2) the war on terrorism has been severely flawed, and (3) neoconservatives share some blame for all of this. And since an "anti-American white supremacist" might also dislike neoconservatives and disapprove of U.S. foreign policy, what we see emerging is a dangerous "Old Right/New Left/Neo-Nazi Alliance." The reactionary Old Right, the pinko New Left, and the neo-Nazis all hate America and blame every problem on the Jews — and thus we can explain why people on both left and right might oppose the war.
As Zak puts it, u201Cthese fringe characters have moved so far around the edges that they have arrived at the same territory, spouting identical positions in copycat rhetoric on such issues as Iraq, the broader War on Terror, and the Jewish state of Israel.u201D
Our fair journalist then goes on to quote Lew Rockwell, Michael Moore, Pat Buchanan and David Duke to show how they all opposed the war in Iraq. (For some reason, Zak did not include quotes from Pope John Paul II, General Anthony Zinni, or anyone else who opposed the war but did not appear as "fringe" to him.)
Let us use a similar methodology to explore the camp that Zak finds himself in — the political coalition with power in this country — the power elite that has laid to waste the country of Iraq and murdered tens of thousands of innocent civilians in the Middle East, as well as the mere mortals on the sidelines, the partisans of empire that cheered on the bloodbath.
Take their views of the U.S. government’s war on terrorism. To paraphrase Zak, the statists on all sides are prowar in precisely the same, delusional fashion:
"It may be that the Iraqi government provided assistance in some form to the recent attack on the United States. But even if evidence does not link Iraq directly to the attack, any strategy aiming at the eradication of terrorism and its sponsors must include a determined effort to remove Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq. Failure to undertake such an effort will constitute an early and perhaps decisive surrender in the war on international terrorism." — Letter written to President Bush, dated on September 20, 2001, signed by William Kristol and dozens of other neoconservatives.
“We’ve also discovered through intelligence that Iraq has a growing fleet of manned and unmanned aerial vehicles that could be used to disperse chemical and biological weapons across broad areas.” — George W. Bush (New Right President of the United States of America)
"While the distance between the United States and Iraq is great, Saddam Hussein’s ability to use his chemical and biological weapons against us is not constrained by geography — it can be accomplished in a number of different ways — which is what makes this threat so real and persuasive." — Diane Feinstein (Authoritarian Democrat)
"Millions of people poured into the streets of cities from Melbourne to New York on Saturday February 15 to protect Saddam Hussein from an imminent American attempt to disarm and dethrone him and disable his arsenal of chemical, biological and proto-nuclear weapons." — David Horowitz, former Communist
“No, I don’t regret giving the president authority because at the time it was in the context of weapons of mass destruction, grave threats to the United States, and clearly, Saddam Hussein had been a real problem for the international community for more than a decade.” — Hillary Clinton (Old Left Socialist Central Planner)
So as we see, not only authoritarian conservatives in power, such as President Bush, but also authoritarian leftists, such as Diane Feinstein and Hillary Clinton, can support the Iraq war, on delusional grounds, as well. But what of the domestic arena in the war on terrorism?
“The Patriot Act defends our liberty. The Patriot Act makes it possible for those of us in a position of responsibility to defend the liberty of the American people. It’s essential law.” — George W. Bush (New Right President of the United States)
"Within a month [of 9/11], we approved the USA Patriot Act, which authorized our law enforcement and intelligence agencies to take the necessary steps to root out the terrorist threat and to protect the Nation." — Diane Feinstein (Old Left Authoritarian Democrat)
Well, would you look at that! New-Right politicians and Old-Left politicians agreeing on the importance of the surveillance State. What’s next for this nutty New Right/Old Left alliance? Will Newt Gingrich and Hillary Clinton be teaming up to fix America’s health care problems?
Now, as to Zak’s use of the anti-Semitic card, he invokes the tactic quite skillfully. Zak asserts, u201C[F]or these fringe members, the current war only provides more proof of the cunning and manipulative nature of the Jewish race.u201D He then compares quotes about Israel’s importance in America’s foreign policy to assertions that the Jews are running the world. Topping off the smear by adding in references to "Holocaust revisionism" and a bona-fide Neo-Nazi crank, Zak pulls no punches in delivering his essential point: If you oppose the war, oppose U.S. support of the Israeli State, criticize the administration in its conduct of the war on terror, or discuss the importance of the neoconservative movement in turning America into an empire and a grave threat to world peace, then you are in the same camp as the kookiest of the right, the fringiest of the left, and the racists who dominate both extremes. Indeed, to oppose U.S. aggressive imperialism is to be awfully close, ideologically, to the Nazis.
Concerning this contentious issue, it is worth remembering some things.
Second, the term has been used for decades, including by one of the greatest and most prescient critics of neoconservatism — who just happened to be Jewish, along with many other prominent antiwar Americans.
Third, neoconservatism is a very influential, dangerous and urgently significant ideology, one well worth critiquing, considering how much power it not enjoys, and not all of its champions are Jewish.
Fourth, it is not mere paranoia that U.S. foreign policy is influenced by concerns for Israel, nor is it anti-Semitic to point this out, nor is it anti-Semitic to point out that neoconservatives indeed want the U.S. government and Israel’s government to conduct the war together. As David Horowitz said in early 2002, "Americans must arm themselves for the defense of their country. To be effective, this defense requires America and the democratic West to recognize that the defense of Israel is a defense of their own frontier."
Did Israel have anything to do with the war on Iraq? Were Ralph Nader, Noam Chomsky and Pat Buchanan wrong about the connection? As 9/11 Commission Director Philip Zelikow said in September, 2002, "Why would Iraq attack America or use nuclear weapons against us? I’ll tell you what I think the real threat (is) and actually has been since 1990 — it’s the threat against Israel."
Neoconservatives can’t have it both ways: if they want to candidly argue that Israel should be at the center of U.S. foreign-policy considerations, they have to allow their opposition to explain openly why they think the neoconservatives are wrong on this. If they want to celebrate U.S. foreign policy in the explicit context of Israel, then they must allow critiques in that same context.
Finally, and most important, critiquing the State of Israel and the U.S. government’s relationship to it is no more a guaranteed sign of anti-Semitism than criticism of the government of Egypt, of Japan, or of France is necessarily a sign of anti-Arab, anti-Asian or anti-European tendencies. Of course, some people who irrationally hate Jews as a race also hate the State of Israel. But being an anarchist and a libertarian, I would personally think that the State of Israel isn’t helping out the Jews who live there much. We would all be better off without these large coercive States repressing us, taxing us, threatening us with powers of life and death. Speaking for myself and for just about every libertarian I’ve talked to on the subject, the problem with the "Jewish state of Israel" — as Zak phrases it — is not its being Jewish, nor its being Israel, but the fact that it is a State. And, as it so happens, a socialistic and militaristic one that receives billions of U.S. tax dollars every year and uses it in highly questionable ways. At the end of the day, the State of Israel is not the same as the Jewish people, any more than the State of America is the same as the American people. To dislike the States that rule Americans and Jews is not to hate those people being ruled, but rather is a likely indicator of profound sympathy for them. When someone rails about "the Jews," chances are he’s complaining about just that — "the Jews." But when someone is critiquing Israel or neoconservative ideology, we cannot assume he is anti-Semitic or anti-Jewish for doing so.
If we took the same standards the neoconservatives use in dishing out accusations of anti-Semitism, and applied them consistently, many conservatives would come off as rabidly anti-Muslim and anti-Arab. Indeed, even without such loose standards, can we not sense a tinge of politically incorrect attitudes on race in such gems as these?
“We know who the homicidal maniacs are. They are the ones cheering and dancing right now. We should invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity.” — Ann Coulter (Opinionated New Right Noisemaker)
"And I don’t have any respect by and large for the Iraqi people at all. I have no respect for them. I think that they’re a prehistoric group that is — yeah, there’s excuses. Sure, they’re terrorized, they’ve never known freedom, all of that. There’s excuses. I understand. But I don’t have to respect them because you know when you have Americans dying trying to you know institute some kind of democracy there, and 2 percent of the people appreciate it, you know, it’s time to — time to wise up. And this teaches us a big lesson, that we cannot intervene in the Muslim world ever again. What we can do is bomb the living daylights out of them, just like we did in the Balkans. Just as we did in the Balkans. Bomb the living daylights out of them. But no more ground troops, no more hearts and minds, ain’t going to work." — Bill O’Reilly (Centrist Fascist)
Or, as O’Reilly put it on another occasion: "Problems continue for the U.S. Military in Fallujah. Why doesn’t the U.S. Military just go ahead and level it?… [W]e know what the final solution should be.” (Emphasis added.)
Such cavalier references to killing Arabs and Muslims in large numbers can be heard all over America these days. Many conservatives and liberals consider it acceptable policy to slaughter Middle Easterners, as if they are somehow lesser human beings than Americans. The New Right/Old Left/Neoconservative Alliance seems fairly comfortable with all this killing of non-Americans — of "others" who are not of the American tribe. And yet, Zak accuses the peaceniks of being the ones especially afflicted with racist collectivism!
On the other hand, maybe Zak is on to something. Perhaps libertarians and other antiwar Americans should be a little concerned that some of our rhetoric sounds similar to other people who oppose the war. Perhaps Zak is right that merely agreeing with Pat Buchanan and Alexander Cockburn must mean we are anti-American and only a couple degrees separated from the Nazis. Maybe there is no validity to a point of view that David Duke happens to share, whether on the question of foreign policy or something as mundane as the sky being blue. Maybe the fact that some antiwar Americans are racists is more significant that the fact that many prowar Americans are also racists — and all you have to do is go to a warmongering conservative website to see such racism coupled with bloodlust.
If this is so, we should all abandon the so-called "Old Right/New Left/Neo-Nazi Alliance." Instead, we should follow the George Bushes, William Kristols and Hillary Clintons; the Diane Feinsteins, Newt Gingriches, and Tom Delays; the John Kerrys, Dick Cheneys and Joe Liebermans; the warmongers on left and right, from Christopher Hitchens to David Horowitz — we should stand in solidarity with the New Right/Old Left/Neo-Conservative Alliance, the coalition of people who actually have power and who have exploited the post-9/11 American militarism to facilitate the emergence of a fascist imperial police state in this country.
To oppose the U.S. empire, its aggressive wars, interventions and lies, is to be in the same company as the "neo-Nazis," after all. It is to agree with the horrific Pat Buchanan, the terroristic Noam Chomsky, and even the crazy libertarians who still hold the quaint notion that war is the health of the State and thus must be opposed.
Let us all join the New Right/Old Left/Neo-Conservative Alliance, for the sake of America, for the sake of humanity, and for the sake of not being smeared.
Anthony Gregory [send him mail] is a writer and musician who lives in Berkeley, California. He is a research assistant at the Independent Institute. See his webpage for more articles and personal information.