I was previously a constitutional law and civil rights litigator and am now a journalist. I am the author of three New York Times bestselling books -- "How Would a Patriot Act" (a critique of Bush executive power theories), "Tragic Legacy" (documenting the Bush legacy), and With Liberty and Justice for Some (critiquing America's two-tiered justice system and the collapse of the rule of law for its political and financial elites). My fifth book - No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA and the US Surveillance State - will be released on April 29, 2014 by Holt/Metropolitan.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

The true character of the European Left

My recent reference to Rep. Cynthia McKinney as a genuine “hater of America” sparked a dispute in my Comments section -- as well as on the far-left, oh-so-cleverly named Smirking Chimp site -- as to what constitutes “anti-Americanism.” Clearly, mere criticism of the American Government or even the U.S. generally is not sufficient to merit that term. Something further is required, which I defined this way:

If "anti-American" means anything, I'd say it means an inclination to blame America for every world problem, and to vigilantly search for America's guilt while downplaying, ignoring, or excusing the guilt of its enemies.

Whatever the proper definition of the term “anti-American” is, it exists in grotesque abundance throughout the European Left. It was difficult to read yesterday’s Associated Press article reporting on the so-called “outrage” among “Europeans” towards Arnold Schwarzengger’s refusal to grant clemency to mass murderer Tookie Williams without feeling a good amount of outrage of one's own.

It goes without saying that the self-righteousness and unwarranted pomposity oozes out of every paragraph. But far worse is the malignant and uncontrollable compulsion to exploit liberal principles of human rights and individual liberty as cynical weapons devoted to their Real Cause of attacking the U.S. whenever the opportunity presents itself:

The execution of convicted killer Stanley Tookie Williams sparked outrage Tuesday throughout Europe, which has a deep aversion to capital punishment sustained by the painful memory of state-organized murder during the Nazi era.

The disappointment was particularly strong in Austria, native country of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, where many had hoped the former bodybuilder and film star would spare the 51-year-old Williams.

Leaders of Austria's opposition Green Party even called for Schwarzenegger to be stripped of his Austrian citizenship - a demand rejected by Chancellor.

And it isn’t that they merely oppose Tookie Williams’ execution and see it as some sort of profound and unique human rights violation. Some of them actually believe that the gentle, peace-loving mass murderer Williams is morally superior to Gov. Schwarzenneger as a result of this execution:

In Graz, Schwarzenegger's hometown, local Greens said they would file a petition to remove the California governor's name from the city's Arnold Schwarzenegger Stadium. A Christian political group suggested it be renamed for Williams.

"Mr. Williams had converted and, unlike Mr. Schwarzenegger, opposed every form of violence,"
said Richard Schadauer, chairman of the Association of Christianity and Social Democracy.

The moral perversion here is breathtaking. Convicted multiple murderer Tookie Williams is now the hero of the European Left in whose honor they want to re-name monuments. And it is Gov. Schwarzenegger who is the criminal and murderer who deserves punishment and public repudiation.

And this is where the odious anti-Americanism is so evident. Say what you will about the death penalty – reasonable people can certainly disagree about it, and it’s one of the issues to which I confess an irresolvable ambivalence, usually leaning against it. But even to ardent death penalty opponents, the execution of the unquestionably guilty mass murderer and violent gang founder Tookie Williams –- after a jury trial and multiple judicial appeals –- ranks very, very low on the list of the world’s human rights outrages and grave injustices.

The countries which the European Left makes a passionate cause of defending – from the Palestinian Authority to Iran and Syria, not to mention Cuba, China and multiple other historic Communist regimes –- routinely imprison and/or execute people without any due process, for reasons ranging from criticism of the Government to adultery and homosexuality. None of that sparks “outrage among Europeans,” because none of that provides an opportunity to depict the United States as the world’s real evil. As a result, the European Left is uninterested in it.

And therein lies the embodiment and definition of “anti-Americanism”: the parmaount desire to find fault and evil with the U.S. and thereby adopting that goal as the first and only real principle, from which everything else follows. That goal is then fulfilled by selectively and endlessly highlighting and exaggerating America’s faults and downplaying, ignoring and even defending far worse flaws in others. In its most virulent (and quite common) form, this extends to making common cause with the most abusive and genuinely evil regimes and movements around the world, whose only virtue –- the only one the European Left needs -- is that they are opposed by the U.S.

This is a deeply dishonest and manipulative syndrome, having nothing whatever to do with the principles to which its adherents claim fidelity. Indeed, their supposed “principles” (human rights, the sanctity of human life, individual liberty) are simply weapons, pretexts, used to promote the only real principle they have – that the U.S. is a uniquely corrupt and evil country. And the reason one knows that to be the case is because these same individuals systematically overlook and even excuse far more severe violations of their ostensible principles when perpetrated by the countries and governments with which they inexcusably sympathize (sympathy which itself can be explained by a desire to sit in opposition to any and every American interest).

Right under the noses of the European Left, European Muslim extremists – whom the European Left instinctively defends -- have been systematically executing scores of people for the last several years: innocent people, not mass murderers, who have been randomly slaughtered, without any due process or judicial appeals of any kind. They murder film makers and journalists and they blow up hotels, synagogues, and European mass transit systems. Where is the “outrage” over these incidents from the European Left, which (unlike the murderous United States) cares oh-so-much about principles of non-violence, human rights and the sanctity of life?

And the Middle Eastern countries with which the European Left has made common cause, beginning with the Palestinians and then extending to most other Arab countries in that region, routinely violate the principles which the European Left pretends to believe in, with scarcely a peep of protest from them. It is not Palestianian and Iranian executions of homosexuals or the Chinese imprisonment of dissidents which moves them to “outrage.” It is only the act of Arnold Schwarzenegger in refusing to overturn the decision of a jury upheld after multiple appeals to execute a mass murderer which does so, because that enables them to highlight America’s evil.

And that brings us to the worst part of the article – the part where, as usual, we hear that the views of the European Left are entitled to a presumption of rightness and moral wisdom because . . . . the Holocaust happened in Europe:

Six decades after World War II, opposition to the death penalty remains deeply entrenched in Germany and Austria, a stance resulting from remorse for the evils committed by these countries under Adolf Hitler and an attempt to prevent future state-sponsored killing.

This quite common theme – that the Europeans now possess some sort of enhanced historical and moral wisdom because the Holocaust happened on their continent, under their noses and/or those of their immediate ancestors – is really one of the more illogical and disgusting pieties used by the European Left and their allies to advance their agenda.

Somehow, Europeans have managed to transform the atrocities which they committed and which occurred in their countries from a badge of shame (which, arguably, it need not be any longer) into some sort of badge of moral superiority and entitlement to sit in judgment of others as the Universal Arbiters of Goodness (which it most certainly is not). While there is an argument to be made that things like the Holocaust (not to mention the two world wars spawned by European countries in Europe) should no longer be used to suggest that the Europeans have an inherent propensity towards violence and savagery, those historical events certainly cannot be used, as Europeans and their worshipers try to do, to prove the opposite – namely, that Europe is somehow now the central repository for moral wisdom and universal human rights such that they have some unique ability to decree what is and is not just.

And if, as this Associated Press article suggests, the European Left sees the Holocaust -- which happens to be notable for its systematic slaughter of innocent people -- as being even remotely equivalent to the execution of a mass murderer after abundant due process, then it only illustrates just how perverse it is to believe that those on the European Left are now the moral proprieters of the Holocaust and other European atrocities, entitled to wield those events as proof of their experience-based superior moral wisdom. The Holocaust did not happen to the European Left. At best, they are neutral observers of it, and in reality, are by-products of the societies and historical roots which produced it. Listening to the European Left try to use the 20th Century European atrocities to bolster their self-anointed status as human rights guardians is as nonsensical as it is offensive.

It is moments like these when the European Left gets exposed for the unprincipled, hollow, nakedly hypocritical world-view which drives it. They recruit and cynically exploit precepts of human rights, individual liberty, and even the Holocaust, all to serve their cause of attacking the United States. And they do grave harm to the principles which they claim to believe in by distorting them in service of an entirely different agenda.

I hope the leftist parties in Austria and around Europe succeed in re-naming their monuments after Tookie Williams. That way, everyone will be able to clearly see exactly the attributes which are exalted by those who deceitfully parade themselves around as the world's Guardians of Universal Human Rights.

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