Tim Blair


New Criterion



Saturday, July 12, 2003
ONLY FEELING SOME of the world's pain, that's a diagnostic feature of the hard left's politics.

ANSWER [Act Now to Stop War and End Racism, a US version of the hard left], you may remember, coordinated this winter's protest against the Iraq war. But its agenda is far broader than that. As the preeminent umbrella organization of the hard left, ANSWER directs its outrage across the globe. This September, for instance, it plans "International Days of Protest against Occupation and Empire, from Palestine to Iraq to the Philippines to Cuba and Everywhere.

..."everywhere" does not include Congo. In fact, it doesn't include Africa at all. answer has organized no protests and issued no statements on Africa's four most ravaged countries--Congo, Liberia, Sudan, and Zimbabwe--although they contain exponentially more oppression and suffering than the four targeted by the group's "International Days of Protest."

A LexisNexis search going back to 2000 finds not a single reference to the crises in Congo, Liberia, Sudan, or Zimbabwe from Noam Chomsky, Arundhati Roy, Michael Moore, Michael Lerner, Gore Vidal, Cornel West, or Howard Zinn.

Or, I bet, Robert Fisk or John Pilger.

Perhaps the left is really not interested in the world at all. Perhaps they're just looking out to find energy for their inner demons.

Here is the view of Peter Beinart of The New Republic:

The answer, I think, is that the left isn't galvanized by victims; it's galvanized by victimizers ... if the greatest injustice in the world is U.S. imperialism, the world's greatest injustices must be found where U.S. imperialism is strongest. And, here, Africa poses a problem. Africa, after all, has less contact with the United States than any other part of the world.

We can agree on that.

The British and European liberal left are certainly more interested in Africa, but find it hard to support effective action to alleviate Africans' suffering. Why? Because it involves military force and poltical intervention, and that, if it's done by the wrong race, is what imperialists do.