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Tuesday, December 22, 2009

On ''Demopaths and Dupes''

This was posted on my first blog, The Anti-Imperialism of Fools, a while back, but serves a a relevant reminder of the propensity of many progressives to engage in truly dangerous moral equivalency between open, democratic nations and closed totalitarian regimes - resulting in the willingness to believe that the of leaders of such totalitarian movements truly seek ''peace'' and ''justice''. Those wishing to further explore this phenomena should read this piece by Richard Landes, on ''Demopaths and Dupes''.

Briefly, ''Demopaths'' are people who use democratic language and invoke human rights only when it serves their interests, and not when it calls for self-criticism or self-restraint. Demopaths demand stringent levels of human “rights” but do not apply these basic standards for the “other” to their own behavior. The most lethal demopaths use democratic rights to destroy democracy.

''Dupes'' refer to the fact that, in order to be effective, demopaths must convince others that their human rights talk is sincere. Only when the Trojans believed that the horse was a “gift” acknowledging their strength, did they take it into their city. When demopaths succeed, a dysfunctional relationship emerges with sincere human-rights activists in an increasingly demonizing rhetoric – against the demopaths’ target – that seeks to influence public attitudes and eventually, policy.

"Apart from the time restriction (a truce that lapses after 10 years) and the refusal to accept Israel's existence, Mr. Meshal's terms approximate the Arab League peace plan . . ."

-- Hamas peace plan, as explained by the New York Times

"Apart from that, Mrs. Lincoln, how did you enjoy the play?"

-- Tom Lehrer, satirist

Here is a spot on take-down of the, at times, unintentionally hilarious recent NY Times piece on the "Hamas peace plan", by syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer. Only the Times could conduct a full-length interview with Hamas leader Khaled Meshal and argue, with a straight face, that he seeks peace. One of the most tragic aspects of the devolution of left-wing thought is their propensity to project their own values, of tolerance and accomodation, on governments and cultures who continually make clear, by word and by deed, their opposition to such democratic mores. While there clearly are some grey areas, Hamas is not one of them. Their malicious intent against Jews and Israelis has been annunciated countless times - including being codified in their founding charter, which actually quotes The Protocols of the Elders of Zion to "prove" that Jews are indeed trying to take over the world - and has been demonstrated in deed in the form of thousands of rockets fired at Israeli civilians since their rise to power in Gaza in 2007.

At its core, the left-wing propensity to argue that Hamas is willing to make peace with Israel seems to be motivated by a wish to legitimize their hope in the "peace process" - a process and a goal which most Israelis, and most of Israel's supporters in the West, view with increasing suspicion in light of what's occurred after the Israeli withdraw of Gaza, and the horrid possibility that a Palestinian state in the West Bank will eventually be ruled by Hamas - despite overwhelming evidence that the presence of Hamas (not to mention Hezbollah) and other radical elements within Palestinian society make such a process futile at best.

The only way to get to an effective two-state solution is for Palestinians to rid their political culture of such radicalism, and build a democratic culture and institutions of government capable of actually implementing an eventual peace deal. In short, peace can not be dictated from above (by the U.S., the E.U., the Quartet, etc.), but must be created from below.

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