Responding to my recent post asking people if the events of 9/11 changed them, a number of commenters said that the horrors of that day– and the blame-America-first reaction of some self-styled leftists– caused them to stop identifying with the Left.
But I’m not sure what this means. I absolutely understand if 9/11 caused some people to abandon their simple-minded “anti-Western imperialist” outlook. I had largely abandoned it myself (I supported the 1991 Gulf war), but 9/11 helped me complete the process.
Cipriano wrote in the comments:
I used to be a bog-standard party-line leftie, and can only remember two occasions on which events changed the whole way I thought. The first was the birth of my first child, which finished pacifism forever. No way was I not going to fight to the death to protect the little guy. The second was 9/11, which put an and to knee-jerk anti-Americanism, anti-imperialism etc. Ever since then I’ve known clearly which side I’m on and who’s on it with me. (That hasn’t made any change to my views on socio-economic matters, and nor should it have done: that wasn’t what 9/11 was about.)
Absolutely, and that’s what puzzles me about those who say that 9/11 drove them out of the Left. Was there something about 9/11 that caused anyone to stop supporting progressive taxation, equal access to quality health care and education, workers’ rights (the hundreds of New York firefighters killed on 9/11 were union members), government protections for the workplace and the environment, etc.?
As I wrote a few years ago, there is a national-security case to be made for universal health insurance.
So did you really abandon the Left, or are you allowing certain high-profile leftists to define the Left for you?
Rather than abandon the Left after 9/11, my impulse was to fight for a Left that emphasizes democracy, freedom and justice rather than a Left that puts the highest value on “anti-imperialism” and defending the “national sovereignty” of even the very worst regimes as long as they are anti-American and anti-Israel.
And that’s what I’ve been trying to do on this blog ever since.