March 8, 2005
The degradation of British toleranceBy James Lewis
'Red Ken' Livingstone, the Lord Mayor of London, is a classic European demagogue, and his rise to power may signal the end of what was once the greatest boon of British civilization: a level of civic tolerance unsurpassed anywhere in Europe. It is another heartrending sign that Britain is becoming more like the European Continent, just another Poland or Belgium. Livingstone's most recent public capers echo the scapegoating tactics of demagogues everywhere, no different than Jim Crow race—baiting in the Old South or the Jew—baiting of Czarist Russia. These political gambits are not accidental: They are carefully played out in public for maximum impact.
Mr. Livingstone's most recent bit of agitprop started a month ago, when he publicly called a Jewish Evening Standard reporter a 'war criminal' and 'just like a Nazi concentration camp guard.' Tony Blair, the Leader of his Party, asked him to apologize for those words. But Red Ken was adamant ——— he meant exactly what he said.
Livingstone has now amplified his views in the left—wing Guardian. Let's look at them in detail.
1. 'Racism is a uniquely reactionary ideology.' In Red Ken's world, left—wingers cannot be racists by definition. The victims of Stalin's Doctors' Plot would be surprised, had they survived execution. So would Natan Sharansky among Soviet dissidents, and Nadezhda Mandelstam, whose poet husband was murdered by Stalin.
2. 'The Holocaust was the ultimate, 'industrialised' expression of racist barbarity.' Indeed: but why skip the industrialized barbarities of the Left? Mr. Livingstone has conveniently forgotten the Gulag, Pol Pot's killing fields, China's Great Leap Forward, North Korea's concentration camps, and much, much more, for a total of 100 million murder victims of the Left in the 20th century. Red Ken's amnesia may be due to the fact that he was too busy cheering on those very regimes during their worst depredations. If active collusion with genocide were an indictable offense, Red Ken and his comrades would be standing in the dock.
3. 'An ideology that starts by declaring one human being inferior to another is the slope whose end is at Auschwitz.' True again: and that applies to kulaks, bourgeois capitalists, cosmopolitans and yes, even Israelis.
4. ' That is why I detest racism.' Oh ——— really?
5. 'No serious commentator has argued that my comments to an Evening Standard reporter outside City Hall last month were anti—semitic.'
Well, here is one who did. In a Spectator article titled 'Why Labour does not need the Jews,' Rod Liddle pointed out,
'There is no 'Jewish' vote in Great Britain any more. ...Certainly, right now, Labour seems to be going out of its way to antagonise the Jews. ... Right now, there is nothing Labour won't do to protect its Muslim vote — and the reason for that is very, very simple.'
In other words, the Lord Mayor's studied insults have a blatant political aim ——— the classic sign of demagogues. In the Jim Crow South, Dixiecrats whipped up white hatred against Blacks to guarantee re—election. The fact that those tactics embittered race relations for generations meant nothing to them. Ken Livingstone believes that just because he is a leftist, he cannot be accused of such sleazy and degraded demagogy. But who is dumb enough to believe that?
But let us return to the Lord Mayor's defense, in which he proclaims a higher purpose — international justice and peace on earth. According to Mr. Livingstone, his conduct had nothing to do with politics. Here are his reasons.
6. 'Israel's expansion has included ethnic cleansing (in 1948). Palestinians who had lived in that land for centuries were driven out by systematic violence and terror aimed at ethnically cleansing what became a large part of the Israeli state. The methods of groups like the Irgun and the Stern gang were the same as those of the Bosnian Serb leader Karadzic: to drive out people by terror.'
There is a grain of truth in this basic lie. The elected Israeli government, led by Ben Gurion, conducted a civil war against the Stern Gang, blowing up one of their arms ships upon landing. Jewish terrorism was forcibly suppressed. No Israeli government ever supported ethnic cleansing, in contrast to Israel's Arab neighbors. No doubt thousands of Palestinians fled from their villages in 1948, but more were encouraged to stay by the nascent Israeli Army; as a result, hundreds of thousands of Arabs are living as free citizens in Israel today. Six Arab states invaded Israel in 1948 with the publicly stated aim of genocide, down to every last Jewish man, woman and child. Mr. Livingstone and his ideological soulmates would no doubt defend genocidal plans in this case.
Americans were surprised after 9/11 to find out that the Left can no longer distinguish between aggression and defense, right and wrong, justice and evil. In exactly the same way, British Labourites are obsessed by the creation of Israel, but they fail to mention Britain's Partition of India in the same year, in which an estimated four million people died in ethnic warfare. Is that because Labour covets the large Indian and Pakistani vote? The rage against Israel is, let us say, highly selective.
7. 'Today the Israeli government continues seizures of Palestinian land for settlements.' This is of course false.
8. (and) '... military incursions into surrounding countries' ——— yes: defensive military incursions, Mr. Livingstone. The Left cannot tell the difference.
9. ' ... and denial of the right of Palestinians expelled by terror to return.' This is of course a recipe for Israeli national suicide, as Red Ken knows so well.
10. 'Ariel Sharon, Israel's prime minister, is a war criminal who should be in prison, not in office. Israel's own Kahan commission found that Sharon shared responsibility for the Sabra and Shatila massacres.'
The Kahan Parliamentary commission demonstrates the difference between a vigilant democracy and the regimes adored by such as Ken Livingstone. Even the British Parliament never examined its own military actions after far worse horrors, like the bombing of Dresden. Israel has. In a democracy, Sharon had military command responsibility, which means complete and total accountability for anything that happens under one's watch. Not even Mr. Livingstone seems to accuse Sharon of deliberately killing Palestinian refugees, who were murdered by Lebanese Phalangists seeking revenge during Lebanon's civil war.
The Left has now rediscovered all the arguments made sixty years ago to keep the US from coming to the aid of Britain against the Nazis. If America had stayed home, Ken Livingstone would be giving the Hitler salute today; which, come to think of it, might have suited him just fine. Londoners of the Blitz generation should hang their heads in shame.
But here is the Lord Mayor's punchline — his clinching argument.
'For a mayor of London not to speak out against such injustice would not only be wrong ——— but would also ignore the threat it poses to the security of all Londoners.' (boldface added)
And there you have it, ladies and gentlemen ——— the difference between today's Britain and Churchill's. We can now stop wondering about the motives of the European Left. It is fear ——— the 'threat to security of all Londoners.' While America is blamed for provoking killers like Al Qaeda, Saddam Hussein and the Iranian Mullahs, Israel is indicted for protecting its people against wanton murder. Such is Red Ken's dainty sense of morality. The Left has now achieved a truly twisted inversion of ordinary decency. But by Livingstone's own admission, its real motive is simple cowardice in the face of evil.