: I’ve been searching and searching for the reason that the left has lost so much of its humanistic compassion, that it came to care more about “my name” (and not doing anything in my name) than about the freedom of the Iraqi people. And I fear I’ve found the reason:
The left has become a movement of snobs (taking that title away from the right).
This occurred to me today as I listened to one of my favorite radio shows, Kurt Andersen’s Studio 360. I respect Andersen and usually agree with him but today, I say he overdid it when he said:
And what has been the first huge, terrible misstep of this American war intended to begin the restoration of civilized values in Iraq?
Our failure to protect the National Museum of Iraq in Baghdad. We all know what happened: looters stole thousands of precious and irreplaceable statuary and vases and cups and architectural fragments from the ancient Mesopotamian and Sumerian and Assyrian cultures.
That is, we failed to safeguard some of the most precious artifacts of civilization itself.
It would be hard to dream up an irony more tragic than this.
Oh, I could dream up a crueler irony quite easily: Imagine if more of our soldiers had died because they were spread thin covering the museum. Imagine if looters had been killed by coalition forces protecting the vaults. Imagine the outcry that, too, would have brought.
In fairness, I’ll bet Andersen recorded his commentary before the NY Times admitted this week that the number of items known lost is 29, not 170,000 (and that some of the items lifted came from the gift shop).
Still this rallying cry over museum pieces, primarily from the left and antiwar Europe, reveals an attitude that, to me, clearly indicates the favoring of things — and ideas — over people. Given the choice of protecting our soldiers and others by not spreading them thin, I’ll take people. Given the choice of invading Iraq and freeing its people or not, I’ll take freedom. But not the left (and Old Europe).
The left got up-in-arms not about the lives and safety of our soldiers and not about the freedom of Iraqis but about a bunch of museum pieces. Things. I don’t care how damned precious they are, they’re still just things. Any single human life is more precious than the lot of them.
I would have expected just the opposite from my fellow liberals. I would have expected the utmost human compassion and defense.
But the sad fact is that liberals have become snobs.
When I grew up, conservatives were the snobs: They ran the companies. They were white. They were privileged. They were educated. They were members of the exclusive society. Country club culture.
But today, liberals are the snobbier lot. They control the academe. They scold or exclude people based on sins of offensiveness, saying the wrong thing, thinking the wrong thing: political incorrectness. When I was a TV critic, I had to suffer so many of my fellow travelers who insisted that they watched only public television, not the grungy popular TV the rest of America and I liked. PBS culture.
Their cultural snobbery extends even to Iraq’s museums.
The sad fact of it is that the left has lost — or abandoned — the masses.
The left used to defend the people against the elite but now they are the elite.
The left used to speak with the voice of the people but now the people have FoxNews and the New York Post.
When they weren’t looking, Rupert Murdoch came and stole the media masses away from the left. And if they’re not careful, if they don’t remember their roots and their raison d’etre, liberalism will lose its political legitimacy the same way.
Those roots should lead them — no, us, my fellow liberals — to fight for the rights of the Iraqi people and to put that above the value of museum pieces behind glass (not to mention rights to health insurance for Americans and quality education and … well, you get the idea).
I’ll be listening to tonight’s Democratic debate to see whether I hear the words of liberalism, whether I hear a voice of the people again.