The Joys of Selective Outrage



Peter Hitchens writes:

Modern Leftism takes a high moral tone about many subjects, which these days often leads it into supporting allegedly noble wars, in Yugoslavia, Iraq and Afghanistan (though funnily enough it used to mean opposing wars under almost all circumstances).

The interesting thing is that its outrage is so selective and inconsistent. This has long been so, and arises from the fact that the Left still hasn’t worked out how to replace the Ten Commandments and the Sermon on the Mount, and so makes its ideas of good and evil up as it goes along.

This leads to some enjoyable inconsistencies. One of my favourites lies in the past. The old USSR was one of the most racially bigoted societies in existence. Ask anyone from the Caucasus who lived and worked in Moscow, let alone any Black African students who attended the Lumumba University, in Soviet Days. Yet it used (quite rightly) to denounce racial bigotry in the Southern States of the USA.

You still meet veteran American Communists who boast (truthfully) that they were among the early campaigners for civil rights in the South. Good for them. Alas, they were also defending or ignoring Stalin’s racialist mass deportations of Chechens, Crimean Tartars and Volga Germans (and indeed his anti-Jewish frenzy after World War Two). So I tend to dismiss their concerns as selective, self-serving, opportunist and without moral force.

Another of my favourite Leftist inconsistencies is the tangle they get themselves in over Islam and Israel. In their universe Islam is good where it challenges the conservative Christian monoculture of Britain and the USA. Islam is bad when it denounces homosexuality and demands the veiling of women, and generally opposes the sexual revolution which is the main concern and aim of the modern left. Islam is good when it pursues its unrelenting war against Israel. It’s bad when, in the mythical form of ‘Al Qaeda’ or the more tangible form of the Taliban, it ‘hates our way of life’ and opposes the education of women, etc etc.

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