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|Written by Jerome Bastien|
|Thursday, 28 February 2008 19:00|
I was in my car on my way to work, at the intersection of Pleasant Park and Riverside in Ottawa. This is how clearly I remember the moment when I first heard the news that a plane had crashed into the World Trade Center. This is also the moment when I became unabashedly conservative.
Well, not that very instant, but within a few weeks I had definitely settled on the right side of the political spectrum and I felt that I was there to stay. Initially, I had flirted with the Left in large part because of my support for the legalization of marijuana – a position I held, I hasten to add, purely in principle. Today I still support legalization, but I’ve realized that my reasons for doing so are better classified as conservative.
While the utter horror of the event was still sinking in, there was little disagreement within the general population about the barbarity of the attacks and the need for the United States to respond. Even in those early moments, the fringes of the far Left were already using the deaths of 3,000 civilians to push an agenda: Ward Churchill, then an ethnic studies professor at the University of Colorado at Boulder published an essay the very next day, September 12, 2001, arguing that the attacks were justified because of U.S. foreign policy, and that the victims were somehow deserving of their fate by their mere presence in the Pentagon or the World Trade Center.
Fortunately, even today the moderate Left does not hold such views. Nevertheless, icons of the Left such as Noam Chomsky and Michael Moore differ from Ward Churchill more in tone than in ideology.
That the United States of America has a history blemished by injustices of all kinds is widely recognized. In fact, certain people – Ward Churchill in particular – have made a career out of documenting and sensationalizing these injustices (Churchill might have benefited from a little less zeal – in July 2007, he was fired for academic misconduct by the Board of Regents).
The USA, however, does not stand out as a nation with a particularly bloody past. Most, if not all nations, have had their shares of war, and winners have oppressed losers since the beginning of civilization. Slavery – probably the most severe blemish on America’s history – was a worldwide phenomenon until very recently, and was practiced by people of all races, including black people enslaving whites, as documented by black author Serge Bilé, in his recently published book Quand les noirs avaient des esclaves blancs (When Blacks Had White Slaves).
More importantly, however, the United States of today is to some extent the freest and wealthiest nation in history. Perhaps for that very reason, it is unsurprising to hear would-be luminaries and sophisticates take such pleasure in deriding it, while enjoying all the benefits it provides, and ignoring the vastly more reprehensible acts of so many despicable regimes. Indeed it is this feature of the Left that drove me to fully reject its ideology in the wake of 9/11.
To equate George W. Bush with Hitler is an article of faith in today’s Left, even for the moderates. A Google search of “Bush Hitler” returns 719,000 pages, and although I did not take the time to visit all 719,000 of them, the vast majority of the ones I did visit were dedicated to detailing the “similarities” between the two men. When faced with actual tyrants with whom a comparison to Hitler would actually make sense – Mahmoud Ahmadenijad, Kim Jong-Il, and Fidel Castro (to whom I wish a short and painful “retirement”) – the Left is at best ambivalent, and at worst sympathetic.
Similarly, the hatred of the Left for the United States prevents it from making a clear moral judgment following 9/11. The New Democratic Party, which in Canada is known amongst other things for its support of homosexual and women’s rights, maintains that Canada’s presence in Afghanistan is immoral, and went as far as suggesting negotiations with the Taliban, a regime known for executing homosexuals and adulterous women.
That is not to say that the conservative side of the political spectrum is free from inconsistencies, corruption, and fringe ideologues. Nevertheless it is on the question of America’s relationship with the world following the events of 9/11 that the Left has been mostly wrong, and the conservatives mostly correct. It is also the main reason why, following 9/11, I knew I could no longer associate with today’s Left.