Victor Davis Hanson Private Papers

The New Left Trumps the Old Right

Victor Davis Hanson // National Review

Anti-Semitism, racism, deception, and dirty tricks: For progressives, the ends justify the means.

‘White folks are going down. And Satan is going down. And Farrakhan, by God’s grace, has pulled the cover off of that Satanic Jew, and I’m here to say your time is up, your world is through.”

So spoke recently our Nietzschean Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan.

There is almost nothing new in his latest hate-filled accusations. Farrakhan in the past has praised Hitler and derided Judaism as a gutter religion. Yet I say “almost nothing new” because the 84-year-old Farrakhan is now empowered by a new generation of leftist, minority, and feminist activists such as Tamika Mallory, Carmen Perez, and Linda Sarsour, who coordinate marches with Farrakhan or ardently praise him.

Not long ago, Representative Danny Davis (D., Ill.) spoke up in behalf of Farrakhan, calling him  “an outstanding human being.” Davis went on to use an unfortunate choice of words: “The world is so much bigger than Farrakhan and the Jewish question.”

“The Jewish question”?

The “Jewish question,” of course, refers to a 19th-century pan-European debate over whether Jews would ever assimilate into European countries. The debate quickly descended into abject anti-Semitism. And by the 20th century, in the German Third Reich, the phrase “Die Judenfrage” was to become the signature Nazi euphemism for the Final Solution. Davis is either ignorant or shameless or both.

Even weirder was a recent revelation that in 2005, at a Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) event, a smiling Barack Obama, then a newly elected senator, had posed in the basement of the U.S. Capitol for a photo alongside a smiling Farrakhan.

Photojournalist Askia Muhammad just recently released his picture — 13 years after he took it. Muhammad had held it back for years, complying with requests from the CBC and Obama’s staff, in order to protect the political viability of the then up-and-coming Obama, who was already eyeing the presidency.

Nonetheless, in retrospect, the somewhat bewildered photographer now seems perplexed at the requests for secrecy and at his own acquiescence. “In fact [Obama] had people from the Nation of Islam working on his staff and in his office in the Chicago, his Senate staff,” Muhammad recently told Fox News’s Tucker Carlson in an interview. “The members of the Nation of Islam helped him in his Senate campaign and on the South Side of Chicago.”

If Muhammad had released his picture of Obama and Farrakhan in 2005, and if he’d disclosed that Nation of Islam people were working on his U.S. Senate campaign, Obama’s political aspirations probably would not have survived the outrage. Certainly, if a Senator John McCain or former governor Mitt Romney had posed for a photo-op in the U.S. Capitol with David Duke, while hiring members of the Klan to work on their staffs, they would have been disgraced and their careers quickly aborted.

In the old days, anti-Semitism was more the domain of white rednecks railing against supposedly sneaky, rich, Eastern bankers and New York traders. Today it is the “intersectional” collection of black extremists, Palestinian nationalists, and radical feminists. They apparently feel immune from charges of anti-Semitism, on the premise that minorities cannot themselves be bigots and that leftists can loathe and single out Israel for inordinate venom, but not be anti-Semitic.

In sum, the octogenarian Farrakhan is now a mainstream identity-politics activist and an apparently integral part of the new Democratic party’s “inclusion” agenda. Why else would Representative Jim Clyburn (the third-ranking Democrat in the House) have shared a stage with him? Or why would DNC vice chairman Keith Ellison (former Nation of Islam member) shrug off his relationship to Farrakhan with the assertion, “I am telling you, no one cares.” And if one looks to the Democratic hierarchy, he’s apparently right.

“Redlining” used to be the banking and real-estate industries’ effort to exclude people of color from mostly white neighborhoods. Its lowbrow version peaked in the 1970s, when white thugs harassed blacks and other minorities who dared to buy houses or move into in their ethnically homogenous enclaves.

Now a new generation of race-obsessed activists in big cities hounds out so-called neighborhood interlopers. Opponents of gentrification use the same old tactics of vandalizing newcomers’ property and attempting to destroy their businesses. In the old days, liberalism defended the efforts of “the other” to integrate into neighborhoods of the majority. Not now.

Instead, it is okay for anti-gentrification activists to use racist language (“Be wary of white men” is a talking point in Los Angeles) to harass so-called yuppies, who wish to move into their traditional barrios. What would happen if there were like-minded bigots in Palos Verdes who organized patrols to stop Mexican Americans from buying homes in their neighborhood, as they marched with placards saying “Be wary of brown men”?

So is the argument both that it’s fine for Latinos to be racist and that others are racists (which is not fine) for suggesting that Latinos are racists? Or is the defense that others were racist in the past, and so some now have a few more years in which they can be racists before we dial back the needle on the racist meter? Or is it weirder still: Whites are racists either for wishing to move into minority neighborhoods or to stay in their own white-majority neighborhoods?

Nearly everyone has gone crazy over Russian conspiracy theories. Representative Adam Schiff of the House Intelligence Committee envisions them as an updated version of the Red Scare. Progressives now recalibrate the old novel and film The Manchurian Candidate to paint Donald Trump as a dupe of Russian-American conspiracies.

Supposedly the pesky Russians have used their money and mafia-like cunning to promote Donald Trump and fuel his right-wing pro-oligarchical agenda. Yet aside from the fact that Robert Mueller’s nearly year-long investigation has so far found no evidence that Trump colluded with Putin’s Kremlin, there have always been illegal attempts to alter U.S. political campaigns, and we’ve seen many political movements intended to promote the interests of foreign countries. What is different is that these efforts are for now legally and ethically exempt from scrutiny, as the necessary means to achieve noble ends.

Speaking of Russian colluders, we already know that British subject Christopher Steele was paid by the Hillary Clinton campaign to find dirt on Donald Trump and to thwart his candidacy. Steele did not register as a foreign agent of any sort. But unlike the Russians, he is easily extraditable from the United Kingdom. Why hasn’t he been indicted?

There’s no reason to believe that if Hillary Clinton had won the election, former FBI director James Comey, members of the Obama Department of Justice, and veterans of the Clinton campaign would have disclosed their shared knowledge of Clinton’s handprints on the Russian-supplied dirt on Donald Trump.

Far more likely, Russian interests would have made use of President Hillary Clinton’s opposition dossier. They could have found the right moment to disclose — or threaten to disclose — that they had colluded with her oppo-research team to ensure her the election.

Other new disclosures show that Russian oil-money interests with ties to Vladimir Putin’s Kremlin may well have funded and subsidized the efforts of multiple American green groups to retard American fracking. In a report released March 1, congressional investigators say, “Republicans and Democrats agree the Kremlin is manipulating environmental groups in an attempt to carry out their agenda” The report cites the 2014 assessment of Anders Fogh Rasmussen, the former secretary general of NATO:

Russia, as part of their sophisticated information and disinformation operations, engaged actively with so-called nongovernmental organizations — environmental organizations working against shale gas — to maintain dependence on imported Russian gas.

Those front groups have long been part of the Russians’ global strategy. In 2014, the New York Times reported that “Russians typically worked with foreign environmental groups to shut down shale gas development in their own countries.”

Russia and the Persian Gulf monarchies detest fracking, given that the resulting flood of new natural gas and petroleum has tanked their export oil revenues, saved motorists and consumers billions of dollars, and made the U.S. nearly oil-independent and strategically liberated from Russian and Middle East pressures.

Who knew that Putin and American anti-fracking groups shared the same goal of reducing the oil and gas output for the United States? Again, progressives call the union of diverse efforts against a common enemy “intersectionality.” Try to imagine the reaction to a group of Russian operatives, secretly bankrolling conservative grassroots efforts to shut down windfarms across the country, claiming that the noise, high profiles, and damage to wildlife were an environmental crime. What would the green lobby think of their Russian-subsidized opponents?

Sometimes the efforts of foreigners to warp U.S. elections are even more overt, at least in the case of foreign progressives in service to kindred American progressives. During the 2016 election, former mayor of Mexico City and often-mentioned Mexican presidential candidate Marcelo Ebrard was the subject of a flattering New Yorker profile. The puff piece (“How a One-Time Political Star in Mexico Ended Up Campaigning for Clinton”) praised Ebrard, a Mexican citizen, for “working on Latino get-out-the-vote campaigns on behalf of Hillary Clinton.”

Ebrard was quoted as despising Trump (“nothing else like I’ve encountered”), and he bragged about how he had organized Mexican-American communities to increase voter turnout.

So, again, imagine the reverse: A Russian citizen and former Moscow mayor relocates to New York to help Trump by galvanizing Russian immigrants to stop Hillary Clinton’s presidential bid. Any such Russian politician, as well as Trump himself, would likely have been indicted by Special Counsel Robert Mueller for election interference and collusion.

All these various paradoxes point to a shared theme. The common denominator is the ceaseless quest for power and influence. A Linda Sarsour or a Representative Danny Davis doesn’t much care whether Farrakhan is a racist, an anti-Semite, and a bigot. But they do understand that he has a large African-American following they can absorb into their own political agendas.

Progressives are not much upset about the notion of foreigners meddling and warping U.S. politics. They indeed seem to approve of the idea that an American campaign would hire a British subject who, colluding with Russians, could help their candidate, Hillary Clinton, derail Donald Trump. And Russians aiding American greens to shut down fracking? Progressives shrug. A major Mexican politician moves to the U.S. to help Clinton organize Mexican-Americans voters to stop Trump — more shrugging.

We are back to the future of various grievance groups using venom, probably illegal actions, and outright threats to further a political agenda that has not won majority support and whose ends cannot be realized without the use of dubious means — any means necessary — to achieve them.

 

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About Victor Davis Hanson

Victor Davis Hanson is the Martin and Illie Anderson Senior Fellow in Residence in Classics and Military History at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, a professor of Classics Emeritus at California State University, Fresno, and a nationally syndicated columnist for Tribune Media Services. He is also the Wayne & Marcia Buske Distinguished Fellow in History, Hillsdale College, where he teaches each fall semester courses in military history and classical culture.

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