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Nobody but Leftists ?


America’s WMD Illusions  by Robert Tracinski,  The Intellectual Activist, February 2004.

This article starts on page 2 and ends on page 6. Consider the following snippets (italics mine):
Page 2:  “... his [Bush’s] administration has allowed the left to seize on the WMD [weapons of mass destruction] issue and claim that the war in Iraq was justified on illusory, misleading grounds. Either Bush lied, the left screams, or his government was incompetent ...”
Page 4:  “... how has the left managed to portray this issue as a major scandal?”
 
“The left’s basic technique ...”
Page 5:  “The left has used this opening ...”
 
“It is the left that is using its nonsensical stand on WMD ...”
 
“The idea currently promoted by the left, that President Bush deliberately distorted the intelligence in order to justify a war he wanted for other, unadmitted motives ...”
Page 6:  “... the position of the left is unalterable ...”
 
“What the left is seeking to achieve ...”
 
“... reassert the big-picture perspective that the left wants us to ignore ...”

The main theme of Mr. Tracinski’s article is: Bush did not lie us into invading Iraq and the non-existence of WMD does not undermine the necessity for having done so. There is a subsidiary theme: Only leftists say otherwise. In the course of little more than a four page article Mr. Tracinski attributes criticism of Bush to leftists over half a dozen times. Mr. Tracinski insinuates that only leftists claim that the Bush administration lied about Iraq or that the non-existence of WMD matters.

He never mentions the better sort of conservatives, libertarians, or authentic students of Ayn Rand. He pretends that non-leftist critics of Bush do not exist.


They Hate Us, Too  by Peter Schwartz,  ARI, March 17, 2003.

Referring to the public rallies protesting an Iraq invasion:
“The protest leaders are the standard gamut of leftists—from modern environmentalists to old-line Marxists.”

It may be true. Street demonstrations are not the best place to look for intellectual arguments.

The main theme of Mr. Schwartz’s article is: Islamic terrorists hate American ideals, and those who oppose invading Iraq hate American ideals too. There is a subsidiary theme: The latter are all leftists. Mr. Schwartz insinuates that only leftists oppose invading Iraq.


The Cheek President Bush is Turning is America’s  by Edward Cline, ARI guest writer, Capitalism Magazine May 20, 2004.
“The Democrats, the left ..., and the liberal news media have latched onto the Abu Ghraib prison scandal to conduct a vitriolic campaign against President Bush ...”
As if he didn’t deserve it. Evidently Mr. Cline thinks U.S. government torture is nothing to be concerned about, and only the left finds it abhorrent.


Concretizing regulations  by Harry Binswanger, ARI, HBL Oct 14, 2008.
“The left has mastered the art of concretization. Every issue it pushes is reduced to perceptual concretes for the public. When they oppose a war, they parade coffins through the streets, they put bloody photos on the cover of the newsweeklies. The nightly news dwells on footage of American failures and alleged American ‘atrocities.’ 
Alleged !  Ever more gruesome details come to light, yet Mr. Binswanger denies – not that the U.S. tortures – but that there is anything atrocious about it.

He might as well call Ayn Rand a leftist because she held some views superficially in common with the left. As for perceptual concretes, concepts are – whatever else they are – integrations of concretes, and the ones Mr. Binswanger lists above along with the facts behind them add up to a war of conquest benefiting an aristocracy over the American people.


The Real Museum Looters  by Keith Lockitch,  ARI, May 12, 2003.
“Initial reports of the looting of the Iraqi National Museum sparked a frenzy of outrage. Denied their desert quagmire, their civilian massacres, ... and their inflamed ‘Arab street’, leftists all but leaped at the opportunity to denounce our armed forces ...”
Even setting aside the mechanical difficulty of all but leaping at something, there is a lot wrong with this in retrospect. When Americans and other Coalition members were still being killed and maimed, a half-dozen or so each day, “desert quagmire” was not a bad description. With Iraqi civilian casualties conservatively estimated at several hundred thousand killed or maimed, one wonders what constitutes a massacre. (Even at the time Mr. Lockitch wrote, it was a massacre.) As for inflamed Arabs, surely their survivors are not anything less than inflamed. Finally, regarding the looting, it was not the American armed forces who were being denounced, it was the Bush administration which sent them there, and those doing the denouncing were not confined to  leftists.

The effect – and doubtless purpose – of attributing to leftists all opposition to the Iraq invasion is to hide the existence of a stronger and more articulate opposition. Another purpose is to smear by non-essential association:  Some leftists oppose the Iraq invasion, therefore if you oppose the Iraq invasion you must be in league with the leftists.

Can a leftist ever be right about something or disagree with another leftist? Consider the following.

In the early 1970’s B. F. Skinner’s books Beyond Freedom and Dignity and Walden Two were all the rage in academia. Professors taught their students about pigeons and “operant conditioning,” and that people are nothing but  stimulus-response  meat-machines.  Generally leftists loved it.

Ayn Rand reviewed the intellectuals’ treatment of B.F. Skinner in (ellipses hers) “The Stimulus ... and the Response” in The Ayn Rand Letter (vol. 1, nos. 8-11, Jan.-Feb. 1972). She found that the treatment was mostly favorable, or if unfavorable, poorly reasoned. After analyzing a number of these essays she writes:

“After a collection of this kind, it is a relief to read the essay in The New York Review of Books (Dec. 30, 1971) entitled ‘The Case Against B.F. Skinner’. The essay is neither apologetic nor sentimental. It is bright and forceful. It is a demolition job. What it demolishes is Mr. Skinner’s scientific pretensions – and, to this extent, it is a defense of science.”
The author of that essay was Noam Chomsky, a leftist if there ever was one. Even a leftist can say two plus two equals four on occasion – as a man, not as a leftist. [*]



*  A liberal is a better sort of leftist so another example is Arthur A. Ekirch, Jr., whose book The Decline of American Liberalism Ayn Rand agreeably quotes from in  “The Intellectual Bankruptcy of Our Age”  and in  “The Roots of War.”

Not only could Ayn Rand praise a leftist when he deserved it, some liberals were far more supportive of Ayn Rand than the typical conservative. (At one time most conservatives at the National Review hated her. Now they all do.) During the mid 1960s Columbia University’s liberal radio station WKCR featured her weekly radio show “Ayn Rand on Campus,” and during the late 1960s the liberal Pacifica Radio regularly featured her speaking. In mid 1962 the liberal The Los Angeles Times newspaper began a series of Sunday articles by her that ran for 26 weeks. In the 1950s, when Ayn Rand was anathema to academics, Harvard historian Arthur Schlesinger Jr. – a Kennedy liberal – had his students read The Fountainhead in his course on American intellectual thought.