United in Hate: The Left’s Romance with Tyranny and Terror, by Jamie Glazov (WND Books, 264 pp., $25.95)
The long romance of Western leftists with some of the bloodiest regimes and political movements in history is a story not told often enough, and Jamie Glazov’s United in Hate tells it particularly well. Glazov, managing editor of FrontPage, holds a Ph.D. in U.S., Russian, and Canadian foreign policy. He also is an immigrant from the Soviet Union, where his parents were active in the dissident movement. Both intellectually and personally, he’s well qualified to document and expose the Left’s destructive behavior.
United in Hate begins with a brief survey of the many leftists who since 9/11 have rationalized jihadist terrorism and blamed the United States for the attacks: “From Noam Chomsky to Norman Mailer,” Glazov writes, “from Eric Foner to Susan Sontag, the Left used 9/11 to castigate America,” seeing the 3,000 dead in Manhattan as “merely collateral victims of the world’s well-founded rebellion against the evil American empire.” But similar attitudes are also found in the Democratic Party itself. From Jimmy Carter’s courtship of Hamas to the Democratic congressional leadership’s eagerness to declare the Iraq War a failure—even as millions of Iraqis voted in free elections—the presumably “moderate” Democratic leadership has regularly created obstacles to defeating a murderous jihadist ideology that opposes every ideal the liberal Left supposedly embraces.
Before returning to the subject of Islam and the Left in greater detail, Glazov surveys the long history of the Left’s “useful idiocy.” Western political pilgrims to post-revolutionary Russia gushed like schoolgirls over Lenin and Stalin, even as torture, terror, and famine were inflicted on the Russian people. New York Times reporter Walter Duranty stands as perhaps the quintessential fellow-traveler, killing news reports of famine and writing that Ukrainians were “healthier and more cheerful” than he had expected, and that markets were overflowing with food—this at the height of Stalin’s slaughter of the kulaks. Today’s Times continues to list Duranty among the paper’s Pulitzer Prize winners. Other abettors of terror and famine, both famous and obscure, make their appearance in Glazov’s hall of dishonor. They include George Bernard Shaw and Bertholt Brecht, who, he writes, “excused and promoted Stalin’s crimes at every turn,” and American sociologist Jerome Davis, who said of Stalin, “everything he does reflects the desires and hopes of the masses.” The same delusions clouded the vision of Western fans of China’s Mao Tse-tung, whose butcher’s bill of dead, tortured, starved, and imprisoned eclipses Hitler’s and Stalin’s combined.
The next generation of leftists in America, the so-called “New Left,” may have become disillusioned with the Soviet Union after Khrushchev validated every anti-Communist charge, but they still clung to the ideology that had justified and driven Communism’s crimes. They simply shopped around for new autocrats to worship. Castro’s Cuba became, and to some extent has remained, the Shangri-La for starry-eyed American leftists, despite its half-million political prisoners—“the highest incarceration rate per capita in the world,” Glazov points out—and its execution of 15,000 enemies of the state. Vietnam for a time inspired pilgrimages as well, lauded by intellectuals like Susan Sontag and Mary McCarthy despite the Viet Cong’s bloody record of torture, forced depopulation, and murder. The bloody dénouement of Saigon’s fall—the purges, executions, refugees, and a holocaust in neighboring Cambodia—soon diverted the Left’s adulation to the next revolution de jour, in Nicaragua. Fans of the thuggish Sandinistas, or the “sandalistas,” as critics dubbed these “political tourists,” did not seem to mind the regime’s 8,000 political executions, 20,000 political prisoners, forced population relocations, or regular use of torture on state enemies. Indeed, about 250,000 Americans went to Nicaragua to work for the Sandinista government.
In 1990, the Sandinistas faced a reasonably fair election and were voted out of power. When China began easing toward greater economic freedom, the only full-blown Communist regime left besides Cuba’s was that of North Korea’s lunatic Kim Jong Il, whose mad dictatorship even American leftists struggled to idealize. However, some found in the resurgent Islamic jihad the next supposed victim of American imperialism and capitalism that, Glazov writes, “would fill the void left by communism’s collapse.” The first stirrings of this unholy alliance between leftists and jihadists were visible after the Iranian revolution of 1979. Again displaying a remarkable myopia about their new heroes’ crimes—the mullahs in Iran killed more people just in the span of two weeks in 1979 (about 20,000) than the hated Shah had in 38 years—Western radicals like French philosopher Michel Foucault indulged both their noble-savage idealization of the non-Western “other” and their usual adolescent worship of “revolution.”
The Left’s flirtation with Islamists is particularly bizarre. Unlike Communist tyrannies, which at least paid lip service to the ideals of social justice and equality, the jihadists in word and deed continually displayed their contempt for feminism, human rights, cosmopolitan tolerance, and democratic freedom—everything the Left claims to stand for. Yet American feminists, who can become enraged over a single masculine pronoun, find all sorts of rationalizations for gender apartheid, honor killings, genital mutilations, wife-beating, polygamy, and other medieval sexist abuses sanctioned by Islam, Glazov shows. Duke professor Miriam Cooke, for example, asserts, “What is driving Islamist men is globalization,” and she praises female suicide bombers for manifesting “agency” against colonial powers. In response to the high incidence of Muslims raping Norwegian women, Professor Unni Wikan of the University of Oslo recommends that Norwegian women wear a veil. And Nation columnist Naomi Klein calls on leftists to join in solidarity with Muqtada al-Sadr, the Iraqi Shiite who has fomented violence against the American military and fellow Iraqis. The only villain in the leftist melodrama remains the capitalist, colonialist, imperialist, Christian West. Hence the surreal sight of American feminists marching against the Iraq War and George W. Bush, though the hated president had freed more women than all the activists and women’s studies professors combined.
Glazov’s repeated exposure of such irrational hypocrisy is his book’s most valuable achievement. Less useful, to my mind, are his psychological explanations. Some leftist “true believers” might hold their convictions because they fuel “the rage and fury that is already at the root of [their] psychological makeup.” But this can’t be true of all of them. I’ve known plenty of sweet, mellow leftists. Glazov is on firmer ground when he focuses on larger cultural trends such as noble-savage multiculturalism, the transformation of Communism into a “political religion” that compensates for the decline of faith, and the adulation of the violent, “authentic” revolutionary inspired by Romanticism. This broader, less personal analysis of pathology also helps explain the jihadists’ motives. “Misogyny and the fear and hatred of women’s sexuality” perhaps might explain the actions of individual terrorists, but the doctrines and traditions of Islam, as Glazov correctly points out, are ultimately explanation enough.
United in Hate is a valuable aid for those wishing to understand one of the strangest spectacles in history: a large number of a society’s most privileged people, who enjoy unprecedented freedom, education, material well-being, and leisure, relentlessly attacking the institutions and ideals that make such benefits possible—and extolling enemies who seek to destroy all of these goods. Americans should closely heed the warnings of United in Hate.