First appeared in print in The Rhinoceros Times, Greensboro, NC
Sarandon, Garafolo, Mandela -- McCarthyism of the Left
Susan Sarandon, Janeane Garafolo, and Nelson Mandela -- what a crew.
This week all three unleashed savage attacks against President Bush and his policy on Iraq. Attacks that remind me of nothing so much as the wild and false charges leveled by Joseph McCarthy in the 1950s.
Nelson Mandela is a genuine hero, a statesman. He is one of the few revolutionaries to achieve power and then govern responsibly, for the benefit of all the people.
Sarandon and Garafolo are, of course, not in that category. But they are both smart women with great talent -- and, in fact, their anti-war ads are very powerful.
"What has Iraq ever done to us?" is the core question both ads ask of the American people.
The answer, of course, is obvious. Iraq invaded their neighbor Kuwait back in 1991. The United States led a coalition to drive them out of Kuwait. We succeeded -- and, in obedience to international law and our agreements with our coalition allies, we did not proceed to drive Saddam out of power.
Instead, we imposed conditional ceasefire terms, among which were:
Iraq had to get rid of all its weapons of mass destruction and cease to research or make any more.
Iraq was forbidden to operate military aircraft in the two major zones of the country that contained civilians hostile to the regime, and which were near allies of the U.S. (Turkey, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia).
Iraq was forbidden to make war against their own population -- the Shi'ite center in the south, the Kurdish region of the north.
Iraq was forbidden to shoot at our forces. That, at least, is of the essence of a ceasefire.
Since that time, Iraq has fired on our aircraft patrolling the no-fly zones almost continuously. That alone is something "Iraq has ever done to us." (But President Clinton maintained a policy of limited response, striking only at anti-aircraft and radar installations, and so this became the de facto rule of what was permissible without triggering massive response.)
Iraq has continued to make war on the Kurds and oppress its own people mercilessly.
Iraq has been unable to produce a shred of evidence supporting their claim that they have no weapons of mass destruction. We know they had large stockpiles; if they destroyed them, they could produce evidence of having done so. They have not produced that evidence: Therefore they either still have those weapons, or they wish us to think they have those weapons, and either way, they are in violation of the ceasefire terms.
They ejected U.N. weapons inspectors several years ago -- that, too, was grounds for cancelling the "ceasefire" and resuming full-fledged, regime-toppling war (but our President at that time conducted international affairs according to what would bring domestic political benefit, and so nothing was done).
Because of all these violations, international economic sanctions remained in place. And the profits from "humanitarian" trade that was allowed has been spent, not on feeding the people, but on Saddam's continuing build-up of forbidden military forces.
In other words, our war against Iraq from 1991 never ended. Certainly that is Iraq's declared position -- they consider themselves at war with us, and have been shooting at us since 1991.
So the question of what Iraq has done to us is easy to answer.
But when Sarandon and Garafolo ask that question, it is pure politics -- and pure hypocrisy. Not only do they know the answer, they also don't even believe in the question.
Neither Sarandon or Garafolo really thinks that we have to wait for an evil tyrant to attack America directly before we have a responsibility to take action -- including military action -- to stop them.
Why do I know this? Because neither of them said a single, solitary word against Bill Clinton when he bombed Serbia.
Milosevic, the ruler of Serbia at the time, was an evil dictator -- but he had never taken the slightest action against the United States or any vital interest of our country.
Why did we bomb him? We had done less than nothing when he sponsored genocidal attacks on neighboring Bosnia-Herzegovina back in the early 90s. And the pretext for the bombing was his actions against the Albanian-immigrant population of Kosovo, a province of his own country, where he was acting to suppress a Muslim terrorist movement.
Of course, the date for the start of the bombing was just before the impeachment vote in the House of Representatives. But I didn't hear Sarandon or Garafolo speaking openly against bombing a country that had done nothing to the U.S. and whose only crime at that moment was to defend their domestic peace against terrorist revolutionaries.
Sarandon and Garafolo are not anti-war. They are merely anti-Bush, and are invoking our collective fake memories of the "noble" anti-war movement of the sixties as a stick to beat him with.
Of course, that "anti-war" movement disappeared the second the draft was abolished. So in a way, Sarandon and Garafolo are the true heirs of that "peace" movement.
As for Nelson Mandela, there are legitimate reasons for third-world nations to resent American policies, especially our "tough-love" free market economic policies, which are far crueler and more shocking than they need to be to accomplish their purposes.
That is no excuse, however, for Mandela to ramp up his rhetoric to such hate-filled excess. Worldwide, people are way too ready to invoke words like "holocaust" and "genocide" in contexts where they are ridiculously inappropriate.
But the Left has pulled out all the stops, to the point of insanity, when it comes to attacks on George W. Bush.
Why? Because George W. Bush is the most frightening President the Left could imagine, domestically or abroad.
He frightens them because he is actually a moderate, a centrist. He wants to serve all the people, not just narrow special interests. He actually believes in egalitarian, non-racist policies; he really means it when he talks about "compassionate conservatism."
Just as Clinton de-fanged the Right by coopting all their economic policies, so Bush de-fangs the Left by embracing their populist goals (though not their methods).
And because Bush really means it, and the people come to trust him -- including members of groups that are traditionally the political captives of the Left -- the leadership of the Left has foamed at the mouth in their vitriolic condemnation of this decent man.
They call him stupid, though clearly he is not. They call him a fascist, a racist, a fanatic -- precisely because he is none of those things. They pound at us with lies and name-calling about him and his policies, because they are terrified that people will realize that by and large his policies are good and decent ones that are likely to work pretty well.
So, beginning with the race-baiting campaign by the American Left during the election of 2000, and continuing unabated throughout Bush's presidency so far, the Left around the world have vilified and ridiculed George W. Bush.
Nelson Mandela is simply echoing what leaders of the American Left have been saying about our President for years now. And Sarandon and Garafolo are also continuing the mud-slinging campaign of 2000 by different means.
What the American Left doesn't seem to realize is that they are behaving exactly like Joseph McCarthy and the red-baiting fanatics of the early 1950s. They fling monstrous charges against decent people, hoping to rouse the anger of the people. And for a time they gain political advantage by doing so.
But in the long run, they will destroy themselves. Because eventually the people realize they are being lied to, and they turn against the liars.
Meanwhile, Sarandon and Garafolo aren't even worthy to be compared to real anti-war activists of the past, like Charles Lindbergh and Neville Chamberlain, whose opposition to war with Hitler was principled and sincere, though dreadfully wrong.
Sarandon and Garafolo and Mandela are now on record as being in favor of America allowing evil tyrants to continue to torture and murder their own people, while developing terrible weapons, sponsoring terrorists, and firing on American soldiers doing their duty under international law.
They don't even have the excuse of being dumb.
We will not forget.
After the heart-rending loss of the Columbia on Saturday, it took only a few hours for self-righteous contrarians to show up online, saying things like, "thousands die of AIDS or poverty in Africa every day, but Americans only care about seven people in a shuttle. Why don't we have compassion for all those others?"
The answer is simple enough. Grief is personal. We grieve far more for those we know and love best. We might deplore the suffering of people we've never met, but we can't feel it as personally as we feel the suffering of people we know well.
The shuttle astronauts were not close kin or dear friends to most Americans. But we take their loss personally because they are symbols of America's sense of itself. When they fly in that shuttle, they fly for all of us, doing heroic tasks in which America leads the world for the benefit of all.
They are our best in many ways, and to lose them in our service deserves our grief and our respect, to them and to the families and friends that mourn them most keenly.
More people died at 70 miles an hour on America's highways on Saturday than died at 12,000 miles an hour a few hundred thousand feet above Texas. And for those who loved them, the loss of those car-accident victims is a sharper pain than the loss of seven astronauts.
But most of us did not lose dear friends or family members this week. We did, however, lose seven bright and good people who represented us and were doing our work.
And those who choose to stand outside the American community and criticize us for grieving more for our own than for strangers -- you're free to feel superior to the rest of us. But keep it to yourselves.
What kind of person comes to a funeral to mock the mourners?
Copyright © 2003 by Orson Scott Card.
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