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The Smear Campaign Against The Far Left Over Israel
I've Heard This All Before
Former Republican congressman Adam Kinzinger is very concerned. The Democrats have a “big problem,” he writes at his Substack, and that “problem” is the party’s affiliation with the “extreme Left” and the left’s expression of “pro-Hamas” sentiment.
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This sounds like a very big deal! I mean, if the Democrats don’t do something right away to condemn and denounce the pro-terrorism sentiments of the left, one would have no choice but to believe that Democrats are objectively pro-Saddam, er, I mean, pro-Hamas.
As evidence for his warning, Kinzinger explains, “I have noticed the pro-Hamas sentiment as I tour the country to talk about my new book, Renegade. Though small, some in the audiences I’m speaking to turn stone cold when I get animated describing my disdain for Hamas.”
That’s right. The former congressman has read the faces of the audiences during his book tour when he mentions his disdain for Hamas, and through deductive reasoning is raising the alarm for the national Democratic Party. Please, someone get a message to President Biden right away!
I mock Kinzinger largely because I think a Republican who voted with Donald Trump 90.2% of the time, including against new voting rights legislation, might not be the best messenger for warning about extremism. He’s one of the people who are practitioners of Trumpism on substance, but they just don’t like it when it is expressed with an outside voice instead of in what Mitt Romney once described as “quiet rooms.”
But his attempt to smear Democrats and the far left is the latest in a disturbing pattern that has popped up since the Hamas attack on innocent Israelis on October 7. In the discussion of increased antisemitism in the United States and around the world, the narrative has begun coalescing around the idea that the “far left” backs terrorism.
Such a serious allegation needs concrete evidence to back it up. The evidence isn’t there.
The response we have seen since the attack and Israel’s response with military action in Gaza has been condemnation of attacks against Israeli and Palestinian civilians, a range of support for Israel’s response, a range of condemnation and warnings related to that response, and at the fringe of the fringe of the fringe, antisemitism.
Yes, there have been people at protests with reprehensible signs and rhetoric. There have been a handful of college protesters and professors saying ignorant and bigoted things about Jewish people. Some offshoot chapters of left wing organizations have said antisemitic things. They all deserve the highest of condemnation.
But to wrap these outliers up as a condemnation of the “far left” movement is just wrong.
It’s somewhat immaterial to this, but unless viewed through the lens of Fox News, I’m not any sort of “far left” person. I’m a liberal with what I have frequently described as “normie Democrat” views on the issues of the day. I’m not the guy who wants to tear down the entire capitalist system, but rather I’d probably prefer some serious sanding down of the sharp edges. People on the far left hate my political standing almost as much as they hate the right, and sometimes even more because liberalism is often viewed as a betrayal of the cause. I’m happy to have that intellectual fight and I think we’re healthier for it.
But that shouldn’t mean we’re okay with a wholesale smear like this. It isn’t antisemitic in the least to be critical of the Israeli government’s response to this crisis (I personally favor a limited military response to terrorism but I also think Benjamin Netanyahu is a corrupt zealot). It certainly isn’t antisemitic to be extremely angered by the death of Palestinian civilians who are trying to just live their lives.
The people who are pushing the “far left is openly antisemitic and pro-terrorist” narrative are trying to narrow the debate by using a smear tactic. We already went through this kind of thing in the early 2000s, when the right and far too many members of the Democratic/liberal establishment marched in lockstep support of America’s wars in the Middle East.
Circa 2003, to question the decision to invade Iraq was to be smeared as “objectively pro-Saddam” and “on the side” of the Al Qaeda terrorists who attacked the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. It wasn’t right then and it isn’t okay now.
We shouldn’t give in to war derangement, and that doesn’t just mean standard issue Republican/conservative warmongering, but also bad faith efforts to smear the entire far left with a broad, antisemitic brush.
Antisemitism should always and consistently be condemned, and there should be zero tolerance for terrorism committed against the people of Israel. There is, however, always room for dissent and disagreement and not everyone has to march in lockstep support of the policies of the governments of America and Israel.
It is especially important for those of us who might back the current responses of those governments to do so above the table, without resorting to smear tactics that lack evidence and reason, simply because it has always been easy to beat up on the left that is outside of the mainstream of American political discourse.
Do better, and don’t get led around by morally vacuous former political leaders weaving narratives based on their book tour crowds.
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