All too often, especially in today’s Middle East, the realities become so absurd that they seem like punchlines in a Jon Stewart bit brought to life.
What can you say when Iran, amid its rush to go nuclear, and having provided so many terrorist groups with weapons, chairs the United Nations Disarmament Conference? How is it that the burden of proof is on the Jewish community and a few brave countries like Canada to convince most European countries that they should designate Hezbollah a terrorist group? Don’t the charred remains of the bus in Bulgaria mean anything, let alone the destroyed French and American barracks from three decades ago? And how can feminists and professed opponents of homophobia like Berkeley’s Judith Butler justify calling Hezbollah and Hamas “progressive… social movements,” then be surprised when students and professors object to McGill University’s unfortunate decision to award her an honorary doctorate?
These absurdities all form a particular ideological pattern that has been building for four decades. An anti-western, anti-Zionist, totalitarian bias has infected the far left, many Europeans and much of the international community. In many ways, it goes back to 1967, when, as the commentator George Will notes, Israel did a terrible thing – it won just as the far left was falling in love with losers.
Eight years later, in a Soviet-sponsored move, the UN General Assembly singled out one form of nationalism in this forum of nationalisms – Jewish nationalism, meaning Zionism – and called it racist. Since then, as America’s ambassador to the UN at the time, Daniel Patrick Moynihan, predicted, the UN has become world headquarters for a poisonous stew of anti-Semitism, anti-westernism, anti-democratic totalitarianism that a surprising number of academics and Europeans parrot.
“The terrible lie that has been told here today will have terrible consequences,” Moynihan warned on November 10, 1975, when the resolution passed. He feared that phrases such as “human rights” were becoming politicized, while the word “racism” was being hijacked by the Soviets and the Arabs to mean any country they disliked as opposed to countries that practiced an offensive, biologically based bigotry. “If we destroy the words that were given to us by past centuries, we will not have words to replace them, for philosophy today has no such words.”
Indeed, today we live in a world that uses these words to attack what Moynihan called “imperfect democracies” such as Israel, Canada and the United States while shielding dictatorships. So Iran chairs disarmament conferences, Syria’s butchery gets a pass, and Israel is perpetually blamed.
But just as Iran’s dictators often condemn “Big Satan” as well as “Little Satan,” meaning America and Israel, too many extremists today mix their anti-Zionism and anti-westernism. How else could we explain the “Red-Green alliance,” the friendship uniting far left activists and Islamists? The glue binding people who call themselves “progressive” and normally denounce sexism, homophobia and racism with these sexist, homophobic, and racist religious fanatics is common enemies, namely the West, and particularly America, Canada and Israel. This is the anti-western, anti-American, antisemitic totalitarianism Moynihan fought, so filled with hatred against us that they sacrifice truth and core ideals.
Yet, despite their extremism, these totalitarians – who are willing to sacrifice truth in order to serve their absolutist doctrines – have made a tremendous impact. They’ve fostered a culture of blame – especially about Israel – that has preyed on the Jewish community’s culture of guilt. Moynihan nailed it when he warned: “Whether Israel was responsible, Israel surely would be blamed: openly by some, privately by most. Israel would be regretted.”
We must stop obsessing about Israel “the accused” and accuse “the accusers,” these totalitarians. We must make the intellectual argument calling out these hypocrites and enablers of violence. And we should mobilize to fix the UN. Canadians especially do not want to abandon the UN, which remains the greatest social service organization in world history, fighting disease, reducing poverty and opposing illiteracy. But those who really care about the UN should try to reform it so that it becomes a centre of truth, a force against totalitarianism, rather than the Third World dictators’ debating society it has become. The challenge is great, but if we work together – creatively, consistently, and persistently – we can win, and save the UN from itself, and start saving far-left intellectuals from themselves.