David Adler on his Lerterland blog exposes the latest ugly manifestation of idiot leftism—which, unfortunately, seems to be rapidly eclipsing any legitimate critique of empire. Arundhati Roy‘s latest seems to be an advocacy of revolutionary suicide—a cheerful admission that the jihadists and Maoists she roots for would hang feminists, bohemians and dissident intellectuals such as herself if they ever acheived power. We don’t know whether to laugh or cry over this one:
Amira Hass has an interview in Haaretz with writer/activist Arundhati Roy, whose hard-left politics I’ve critiqued a number of times on this blog. What can I say … For someone so famously tough-minded, given to speaking out on the need for critical, hard-hitting journalism, Hass sure can throw softballs when she wants to. Reporting on Roy’s recent appearance in Italy, Hass writes: “The audience was thrilled by her words and the cameras delighted in her beauty.” You have got to be kidding.
The piece begins:
A month ago, as she faced a roomful of journalists in Italy, writer Arundhati Roy was asked what it is like to be an icon of peace-seekers around the world. “First of all,” she advised her audience, “always be suspicious of icons.”
On it goes, an avalanche of phony modesty from Roy. “Sometimes I think that there are two kinds of people, one that is comfortable with power and one that has a genetically antagonistic relationship to it,” she says, neatly summarizing her comically black-and-white view of the world.
Obviously, Roy’s opposition to injustice in India is not without merit. But Hass practically congratulates her for refusing to be a pacifist. Indeed, Roy has made her support for violent thugs posing as liberators abundantly clear, and she continues to do so:
… [Roy] tends to joke with her friends about how in “all the battles that we fight, if the people that we are supporting end up winning, we will be the first ones to be hanged from the nearest tree. The Maoists, the Islamic movement in Kashmir. Sometimes you are fighting on the side of people who have no space for you in their imagination. But that’s okay.”[…]
Good luck finding a political statement more cavalier than this. Roy, of course, would never have to live in a Maoist-controlled jungle, or a Kashmir under Sharia law, so yes, of course it’s okay.
Incredibly, Hass gives Roy a pass on supporting the fine work of the Islamic movement in Kashmir, which very probably includes this.
Now, there will be those who ask: why beat up on Roy when the Cheneyites are plotting to bomb Iran? Bigger fish to fry, no? Actually, we have even centrists like Fareed Zakaria making a very forceful case against striking Iran. Whether his arguments will prevail is another question. But there is no need at all to rally defensively behind a nutcase like Roy. There is, however, a need to acknowledge that Roy is indeed an icon, and to question how the bar came to be set so low on the left.
We do have a few small quibbles with Adler. The problem is not that Roy represents the “hard left” but the idiot left. This is actually an important distinction. The problem with the old “hard left” was a surfeit of ideology. Far from being soft on the jihad, the Stalinists chanted “Hail Red Army in Afghanistan” back in the ’80s. The “thinking” (if we may so flatter it) of the new dumbed-down idiot left (as Hakim Bey has written) “fails to achieve even the tarnished and untrustworthy status of ‘ideology.'” It is a mere Oedipus Complex, with no positive vision whatsoever of what it stands for—only sanctimonious, analysis-free cheerleading for any bloodthirsty extremoids who seem to oppose “empire.” The proof of this intellectual bankruptcy is that Roy’s beloved Maoists and jihadis would ironically both love to hang each other as well as her…
We also take issue with calling her a “nutcase,” which is a bit of an insult to the insane.
But yes, we ask ourselves every day how the bar came to be set so low on the left. We’ve pointed out before that Roy cheers on Iraq’s mass-murdering “resistance”—again an all-too-flattering word, but Roy has actually unapologetically called them “terrorists”! (“Terrorists…are people who don’t believe that the state has a monopoly on the legitimate use of violence,” she wrote in an essay finding, “The Iraqi resistance is fighting on the frontlines of the battle against Empire.”) Even after a proud faux pas like this, she responds to critics not with facts or even argument at all, but with condescending sarcasm. Not surprisingly, she’s also recently come to the defense of Bosnia genocide deniers.
The most hideous thing about this is that the Iraqi jihadist “resistance” that Roy cheers on really are assassinating leaders of Iraq’s besieged leftist civil resistance movements! Progressives in the West should be loaning these movements—led by organized labor, feminists, etc.—vigorous solidarity, not waving pom-poms for those who murder them.
We liked Arundhati Roy a lot better when she was crusading for the indigenous people displaced by India’s hubristic Narmada Dam, rather than cashing in on fast glory by giving a disillusioned left what it wants to hear.
There are still a few lonely flickers of a real left out there—and they are precisely the ones who are calling out Arundhati Roy’s brainless barbarisms, without ceding an inch to the empire.
See our last post on the idiot left.