The Moral Bankruptcy of the Progressive-Left

hypocrisyThe progressive movement’s main claim to political legitimacy is a moral claim. The movement claims to stand for social justice and equality of rights throughout the world. Any legitimacy the left has as a political movement is grounded in the notion of universal human rights. But if the left has quietly abandoned that ideal, which it has, then it loses both moral and political legitimacy. After all, if the left does not stand for universal human rights, then just what in this world does it stand for?The sad truth is that the left has abandoned its core reason to be. By holding different people, and different countries, to different moral standards it has effectively abandoned its alleged core values. One cannot claim to stand for social justice, after all, if you only care about social justice for some people, but not others. If you constantly speak out against supposed Israeli human rights abuses but remain silent about the truly horrific situations in Darfur or Congo or Syria… circumstances that make the Arab-Israel conflict look like a picnic on a summer Sunday afternoon… then you cannot claim to stand for universal human rights and, therefore, any claims you may have for moral or political leadership, as a member of the left, are entirely unfounded.

This is the situation that we find ourselves in, currently, and it probably represents at least part of the reason why many Jews are becoming more and more dissatisfied with the Democratic Party and the progressive movement. Most diaspora Jewish supporters of Israel are people who at one time, if not currently, considered themselves on the progressive-left. Certainly, I did. As someone who grew up in the political aftermath of the counterculture and the New Left, I was impressed with the ideals of those movements. I was impressed with the counterculture for its apparent spontaneity, its anti-authoritarian values, and its sense of community. I was impressed with the New Left for standing against jingoism, for its anti-war agenda, and for its championing of the human rights of women and Gay people and other minorities.

Today, looking back on the movement that was for decades my political home, what I see are the ruins of what was and the rank hypocrisy of what is. The left has essentially broken itself on Israel’s back and they don’t even know it, yet. The reason for this is that if, as a movement, the progressive-left intends to constantly fire-off Katyushas of Hatred and Qassams of Malice toward Tel Aviv, while snuggling up to Iran, then they lose all moral legitimacy. This is particularly true given the fact that the left could hardly care less about the 5.5 million dead in the Congo, about Tibetans living under Chinese occupation, about rape as a tactic of war in Darfur, about the hanging of Gay people from cranes in Tehran, or about an Arab and Muslim world rife with antisemitism, homophobia, and gender apartheid.

In this way the left, which claims to be both moral and anti-racist proves itself to be, in fact, neither.

On the progressive-left, Israel is the Jew among nations. Just as prior to establishment of the state of Israel Europeans tended to ascribe a host of negative characteristics to the Jewish people, so today they ascribe those same specific characteristics to the Jewish state and they do so… gallingly enough, hypocritically enough… under the banner of social justice. For 2,000 years we lived in diaspora, that is, we lived or died according to the pleasure of non-Jews. For 1,300 years we lived as second and third-class non-citizens under the imperialist boot of Muslim rule, i.e., as dhimmis. And today, directly after the historical moment in which we re-took our freedom, progressives tell us that the institution within which we manifest that freedom, the state of Israel, is a racist, colonialist, imperialist, apartheid country which, if it should not be dismantled as the national homeland for the Jewish people, must jump through whatever hoops they lay down. If Israel fails to jump through each and every one of those hoops then clearly they do not want peace and thus deserve whatever they get.

Well, some of us have definitely had enough of this nonsense.

The Palestinians refuse to negotiate a peaceful conclusion of hostilities and the progressive-left blames Israel. The Gazans shot thousands of rockets into southern Israel for years, but the progressives only spoke up when Israel sought to defend its citizenry from those rockets. Did the progressive movement have anything to say about the Fogel family murders? No, it did not. Does the progressive movement have anything to say about Hamas’s genocidal charter or the larger Jihadi movement out of which Hamas sprang?

No. It does not.

The left can barely even bring itself to tsk, tsk ISIS.

In fact, as Egypt transitioned from a military dictatorship, under Hosni Mubarak, to an Islamist dictatorship under the Muslim Brotherhood this result was, in part, through the efforts of the current president of the United States. But, then, the left has always had a weakness for the very worst actors in world history. Just as leftists often supported the Soviet Union for decades, despite the tens of millions of innocent dead due to that regime, so it now (usually tacitly, but sometimes directly) supports Political Islam.

For me, personally, the real wake-up call came during the Mavi Marmara incident in May of 2010. There were two groups of people aboard that vessel. There were the violent Jihadis seeking martyrdom… which progressives referred to as “peace activists.” And the second group? Well, they definitely weren’t Tea Party people. They were, in fact, progressive-left activists from around the world. Progressive-left activists literally, physically, morally, and financially supporting Jihadis in an effort to kill Jews, while telling the world that their mission was humanitarian.

The irony and cruel hypocrisy could not be more rich.

So, just why would you expect Jewish people to remain a part of such a political movement? The progressive-left may have been our home for a very long time, but clearly their values have shifted away from anything that could possibly be acceptable to the great majority of western Jews. Most of those Jews don’t really get it, yet, but people are awakening. There are reasons why more and more of us are leaving the Democratic party and the progressive movement.

Because the progressive-left accepts, if not encourages, generalized malice toward the Jewish state it thereby shows the rest of us the door.

I say we walk through it.

Also published at Mike’s Blog – ‘Israel Thrives’ and the Elder of Ziyon.

{Author’s note – this is a slightly edited retread from a few years ago. I thought that it was worth revisiting.}

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  1. Leon Poddebsky

    Today’s self-styled “progressives” are as “progressive” as their ideological ancestors in the 1930’s , who rationalised the atrocities that were being committed by Stalin’s Soviet Union, and then rationalised the Soviets’ pact with nazi germany.

  2. Otto Waldmann

    Perhaps unintentionally, although Michael seems a freakish intellectual self-controlled terrorist, the essay explains implicitly and otherwise how political and para-political entities function.
    Once a certain “ideological” fraternity is gelled and labeled, it can only breathe in oxygen by selective, extrapolated realities and figments thereof all called “determinant reason d’etre “. Leftists have no choice but choose what fits their agenda as much as the opposite folk would use all reality-related arguments which suit them and disturb the “others”.
    Comprehensive reality as we know it , could not be a “one size fits all” source for most humans, including the very articulate ones. Humanity is as cohesive as it contains infinite molecular segments each fighting for a place under the sun with as many fringe benefits as possible, most to the detriment of the others in the existential melange.
    Once “progressive leftists” will cease picking and choosing the object of their travails , they will no longer be the brand as we know it.
    This does not mean we should allow them to function unperturbed, quite to the contrary.
    My only issue is that I would not afford them the merit of allowing the very progression of the Jewish identity, let alone the very existence of Medinat Israel. It is precisely this fallacy claim that had given them that ideological oxygen. I counter that ONLY through the perpetuation of Judaic spirituality and all associated ethics we have arrived at the Providential stage of regaining OUR place among the nations in the geopolitical sense. Otherwise, we never ceased to exist and progress since day naught , the one that started ” in the beginning… ” easily WITHOUT the “blessing” of the lefties.
    Percentage and historically, that lefty Yiddischkeit has been and shall remain but a noisy and – occasionally – troublesome minority among us.
    Our universal human vast mix seems to function only through the collision of philosophical conditions, indeed a Universal Law which, at least, protects organically the dynamics of the necessary intellectual-partisan terrorists and, implicitly, this glorious site………….

  3. I am glad you revisited this article. What is sad is that today it is probably even more widespreadly applicable to those who call themselves Leftists/Progressives than it was when you wrote it.

    • The far left has changed considerably over the years. I was raised in a far left home and what I see today couldn’t be any further from that if it tried.