Saturday, April 20, 2002

Jewish moves to the Right-A MSNBC piece on Jewish voters moving to the right with the current issues in Israel has a mixed response. Christopher Johnson chimes in with "If this is even partly true, the Democrats are in serious trouble." Joshua Treviño disagrees.
there is no inherent contradiction between American leftism and pro-war sentiment. Heck, there's no contradiction between leftism in general and violence as a whole. Stalin? Mao? But to pull back from the ridiculous extremes for a moment, the close identification of mainstream leftism with anti-war sentiment is a comparatively recent development in our history. American liberals traditionally do not mind using force to crush America's enemies: if anything, they've proven more ready to do so than American conservatives. Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, FDR, LBJ -- all were vigorous advocates and practitioners of war on the perceived behalf of their nation. In more recent memory, Bill Clinton wielded our military power far more often (if far more ineptly) than his two conservative predecessors.
First off, Treviño doesn't understand the difference between social democrats and Communist thugs, as somehow Stalin is slow-dancing with Cynthia McKinney. Leftist pacifism is about a half-century old as socialists/communists were reluctant to go against their Soviet buddies in the Cold War. The larger generation of 60s anti-war leftists were moral relativists who saw it as a raw power struggle between equally corrupt elites and not a good-versus-evil fight. You have to see an enemy in order to want to crush it. The four presidents Treviño listed had a well-honed sense of right and wrong and would fight to defeat wrong. The modern secular left is too caught up in understanding the root causes of the evildoers to want to fight evil. Clinton was slow to act in Bosnia and had no guts in Somalia. In Bosnia, Clinton failed to understand the psyche of the Serbs, who weren't interested in diplomacy and really wanted to wipe the local Muslims off the map if they could get away with it. Only when Clinton realized that the best diplomatic message was delivered by laser-guided bombs was the Dayton agreement feasible. The secular left doesn't understand that Arafat and company want to wipe Israel off the map if they can get away with it. They will look at the IDF's attacks on Fatah and Hamas strongholds as equivilent to the Palestinians autoboomers attacks on buses and restaurants. They don't appreciate the hatred that comes not from poverty but from a culture that treats Jews as a mortal enemy. The secularist assumes that if the Palestinians needs are met, they will be able to live in peace with us. However, some people just aren't interest in playing nice. All but the most ardent left-winger was on board after 9/11. The attack was against western values that almost everyone shares. Liberals had a wake-up call as evil showed up and killed thousands. Israel isn't as easy a sell. The attacks and counter-attacks can bring the people who assume moral equivalence that they don't have a dog in the fight and will be willing to sell out the Israelis if it means better relations with the larger and richer Arab oil nations. Going after Al Qaeda, who has it in for the US, is different than going after Hamas or Fatah, who haven't done much against the US lately. The Democrats are torn between the Jewish lobby, who want a strong and secure Israel, and the non-Jewish secularist, who aren't interested in helping Israel if it means damaging good relations with Arabs. In Jewish territory, such as New York, the Democrats will lean in that direction, but they might not do so on a national basis if being hawkish on Israel will cost them the Green-leaning vote. If you look at the Republican party as presently constituted, it is fairly good for Jews who aren't cultural liberals. The biggest stumbling block to Jewish membership in the GOP, Pat Buchanan, left two years ago. The evangelical wing of the party supports Israeli and the Neocon wing has a large Jewish contingent, including David Brooks and the Kristol family. The New Deal era mentality that the GOP was the WASP party and that the Democrats were the party of the Huddled Masses is gradually going away. If liberals start supporting Arafat, some Jews may decide to vote with their feet.

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