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Wednesday, April 28, 2004


Whatever else that guy was, he certainly wasn't a liberal of any stripe I'm aware of if he was defending torture and rape. We liberals tend to be pretty opposed to that sort of thing across the board. In fact, we're often criticized by conservatives precisely because they see us as too squeamish about endorsing those sorts of tactics when they're perceived to be in the national interest (see, e.g., our misgivings about U.S. support for the Contras, Pinochet, and various other right-wing thugs in the 1980s).

JB, you're pretty much making my point. This guy is not alone; i've heard, well mostly read, lots of true liberals (or at least leftists) who normally are extremely loud spoken about thughs and tyrants suddenly did a 180 and start defending Saddam's brutal tactics. My fear is that this is because they've allowed their dislike of Bush to cloud their judgment.

One of the most striking examples of this disconnect involved Australian liberals. A few years back the major cause in international politics among Australian liberals was the independence of East Timor. Their support on this issue was largely due to the fact that brutal methods were being used to suppress the people in that region. They were, to their credit, willing to "move heaven and earth" to convince the world they were right on this issue and they won.

Yet many of these people turned right around and started actively defending Saddam. I don't mean to imply that ALL liberals suffer this failing. I'm afraid my original post gave that impression. However, I do believe that this has become a non-trivial problem in some circles on the left.

I talk to a lot of liberals, and I have never, ever, heard any of them *defend* Saddam Hussein. Point out that he's no worse than a lot of other brutal dictators that we don't seem to care much about, maybe. But that's a far cry from defending him. If there are really "a lot" of liberals that suffer from this particular affliction, let's see some more examples.

JB, I myself have noted that there are other tyrants oppressing other their subjects elsewhere and tried to come to grips with what our responsibility is to them. Of course, Saddam's behavior towards his people is only one of several reasons I supported, and still support, the war. But it was a non-trivial one and that fact concerns me when I look elsewhere. I believe, quite firmly, that to those that much has been given, much will be required.

As to my impression that there is a sizeable minority on the left that is willing to defend Saddam, I have neither the time or the inclination to go searching for examples. I may be wrong, but I don't think so. Regardless, I brought the issue up, not to bash as I'm afraid the original post appeared to do, but because what I've seen on the left concerns me.

If you think I'm wrong, that's fine. You said that you hadn't talked to anyone liberals who thought this way. Well, neither have I, but I've heard them on the radio, read them on the net, and seen them carrying pro-Saddam signs at rallies. Maybe these people are not, as you said to begin with liberals, but many of them purport to be.

As I say, you may think I'm wrong that this is a major issue. I may even be wrong. But I've seen enough to suggest you keep your eyes open.

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