WEIRDOS, AND WING-DINGS
THE WAR PARTY - A SCARY, UGLY LOT
By: Justin Raimondo
Uzbekistan, land of torture,
where opponents of the barbaric regime are routinely jailed, beaten, and murdered
you wouldn't think that Uzbek "President" Islam Karimov would have any
Western defenders. But, then, you probably weren't taking ex-leftist-turned-Muslim Stephen Schwartz into account.
The fifty-something "senior
policy analyst" for the ironically-named Foundation in Defense of Democracies, a
war bird formerly with the Voice
of America, doesn't have much of a problem with Uzbekistan's estimated 600 political
arrests per year and some 6,500 political prisoners many of whom face death by
torture. Praising Uzbekistan in a speech as "a new, young, transitional
"I cannot claim to provide a full endorsement of the Uzbek regime, without
going there. Obviously, as in any country, there have been abuses. However, I note that
much of the discussion of Uzbekistan and the claims of Islamic figures in that country to
being victims of repression, rests on extremely vague terminology. For example, the latest
U.S. State Department report on human rights abuses around the world was released on March
4. It includes numerous allegations against Uzbekistan, many involving the government's
struggle to suppress Hizb-ut-Tahrir - a clandestine subversive movement originating in
Arab countries. This is a battle in which the United States should probably be cheering
Karimov on, rather than condemning him."
According to a forensic report compiled last summer by the British
embassy in Uzbekistan, two prisoners of this "transitional democracy" were
boiled to death. Their screams were not too audible in the West, drowned out, perhaps, by
Schwartz's cheers and the support of the U.S. government. American taxpayers shelled out
$500 million in aid to Uzbekistan, $79 million of which went directly into the pockets of
the torturers, i.e. the police and intelligence apparatus.
Apologizing for torture, murder, and the parboiling of human beings for the man
they call "the philosophical
whore of North Beach," it's all in a day's work.
While we're on the subject of Schwartz, he's authored yet another screed
supposedly linking me to all sorts of causes I've never embraced and people I've never
met. Writing in Frontpage where else? Schwartz whines that when he
arrived at the Islamic Center of Long Island, where he was supposedly invited to give a
talk on May 11 although the calendar for the
Islamic Center does not mention his name he was
"Handed a pamphlet headed with the ominous words 'CONFRONT MUSLIM-BASHER.' The
target of this propaganda was me. The tone was one of violent incitement. The anonymous
author of this screed had assembled a series of hysterical charges against me
pamphlet ended with scurrilous quotes from Dennis 'Justin' Raimondo
and from Kevin
Keating, another West Coast fringe type. Keating was the leftist radical photographed in
San Francisco during the Iraq conflict, toting a banner reading "We Support Our
Troops WHEN THEY SHOOT THEIR OFFICERS."
This is the second attempt
by Schwartz to link me to Keating, whom I have never even met. To wing-dings
of the Schwartzian variety, however, all those he counts as his enemies are involved in a
vast conspiracy against him. As he put it:
"The long arm of the Saudi/Wahhabi conspiracy, supported by American
neofascists and leftists, had reached me in Long Island"!
even begin to encompass Schwartz's peculiar pathology. Besides quotes from me, and the
mysterious Mr. Keating, this anonymous "pamphlet" also supposedly "promoted
al-Fuqra, a violent criminal organization linked to al-Qaida."
Gee, that was some "pamphlet" it sounds more like a lengthy treatise.
But what were those "scurrilous quotes" he attributes to me? Except for the
"Confront Muslim-Basher" headline, Schwartz never quotes from this mysterious
document: does it even exist except in his perfervid imagination?
Poor paranoid Schwartz according to his account, when he was confronted with
this terrifying pamphlet, he ran screaming from the room:
"Rather than bring about the confrontation these fanatics desired, I left the
mosque without speaking. Many small children were present, and I would not have risked an
uproar. Later I found out that as soon as I was gone, a large crowd of scowling men in
Taliban-style beards also departed the scene - after one of them had delivered a harangue
denouncing me as a Communist, of all things. They obviously had not come to hear the
children sing praises of the Prophet. After further investigation of this incident, I
concluded that it was a deliberate setup."
It's a worldwide, left-right terrorist-inspired conspiracy against Schwartz
because, you see, he's sooooooooo important. Not even Lyndon LaRouche is this
nutty. The Taliban in Long Island? Mullah Omar must be summering in The Hamptons.
(By the way, has Schwartz looked in a mirror lately? His own facial hair is fairly long,
and he's a self-professed Muslim. Does that qualify his beard as
Oh, but here's my favorite part of Schwartz's rant against the International
Raimondo-al Fuqra Conspiracy::
"I have obtained the names of the provocateurs in this affair, and will inform
the FBI of the trouble in Westbury."
In a free society, wackos like Schwartz are laughed at and generally ignored: in a
police state, they are feared and universally hated informers. Caught as we are midway
between these two states, the sight of Schwartz's porcine figure lurking in the shadows is
fraught with overtones both sinister and absurd.
I'm sure the feds were thrilled to get this list of subversives from a nut-job of
Schwartz's caliber: my name, no doubt, is somewhere near the top. It's an honor, albeit a
dubious one, considering the source: but I won't be too surprised if the FBI shows up at
my door wanting to take a look at my Jama'at al-Fuqra membership card.
The War Party has some real characters in its ranks, the sort of people you couldn't
put into fiction because no one would believe it. Donald Rumsfeld is nothing if not
cartoonish, an American Colonel Blimp, and what comic book villain even approaches the
sinister sleekness of Richard Perle? But it's the minor figures, like Schwartz, that
really show the War Party for what it is: an unsavory collection of frothy-mouthed
fanatics, would-be police informers, and opportunists on the make. But Larry Elder, a minor talk radio celebrity, who
his resignation from the Libertarian Party, is giving opportunism a bad name
The idea that Elder is or ever was a "libertarian" is patently absurd. Anyone
can register Libertarian, or even send in dues to the national Libertarian Party, but
Elder's views are so conventionally Republican (of the moderate or neoconservative
variety) that his claim to the libertarian mantle seems strangely off-the-wall. After all,
here is someone who wants to elect Republicans "who reject the notion that the 'right
to privacy' exists in the 'penumbras' of the Constitution." Some
"libertarian"! In his screed
attacking Libertarians and announcing his defection to the Republicans, he says he
"Most Libertarians opposed the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, a position I find
increasingly naive and simplistic in a world of mobile biological labs and radiological
bombs capable of being carried in suitcases by our nation's enemies."
Since suitcase nukes have been technically feasible for many years, the suddenness of
Elder's conversion on this point is somewhat suspect. That this lethal luggage, in the
case of Iraq, was apparently lost in transit doesn't seem to bother Elder: he counsels us
to be "patient"
oh, and what about those two trucks they found? Besides, we don't need a
"smoking gun." Larry doesn't even need a rationalization for war: we just have
to have faith in the leadership of George W. Bush.
That this longtime political huckster is claiming to be a free-thinking
"libertarian" whose bete noire is political correctness, is some kind
of joke right? The man is a fraud, and not even a half-convincing one: he seems
almost fated to become another (failed) Republican politician.
Hypocrisy is an essential ingredient in the make up of any politician, no matter which
party he belongs to, and certainly Elder is especially favored in this regard. When he was
boycotted and picketed by African-Americans who didn't take kindly to his views on race
matters, and his radio time was cut back by his sponsors, Elders and his supporters were
whining and screaming "censorship" with a series of paid pro-Elder ads
(David Horowitz's outfit picked up the tab to the tune of $350,000). Yet when antiwar
actors and other public figures were attacked and denied employment for their views on
foreign policy, suddenly Elder rediscovered the "true" meaning of censorship and
concluded that antiwar "celebrities are
ignorant of the First Amendment."
Rumor has it that the Republicans are desperately looking around for someone to run
against Senator Barbara Boxer in California: Radio
host Dennis Prager is being talked about, as is Larrry Elder. If Elder has the gall to
go out in the public square and further degrade a once-noble political term by describing
himself as a "libertarian," then one has to ask: Are we to be spared nothing?
Apparently not. As "the
Sage of South Central" puts it:
"Make no mistake: My libertarian principles remain unchanged. But as writer
Midge Decter once said: 'There comes a time to join the side you're on.'"
Yes, and it's the side you were always on, Larry, which is most decidedly not the
libertarian side of the barricades: you're on the other side, with your neocon
friend Ms. Decter and all the other war-bots intent on dragging us down the road to
Empire. Goodbye and good riddance!
No column entitled "Wackos, Weirdos, and Wingdings" would be complete without
a section dealing with Ramesh Ponnuru. a writer for National Review. Ponnuru just
appeared on "The McLaughlin Group" today [Friday, May 30] for the first time,
and the sheer dorkiness of the guy, looking and sounding for all the world like some Indian eunuch of a neoconservative
disposition, was painful to watch. The knee-jerk answers, the robotic stare, the
rhetoric reduced to sloganeering, all projected the image of some party-lining Soviet
apparatchik, in style if not in content. He brings the same style to his written works. In
National Review Online, Ponnuru attacks Donald Devine, of the American
Conservative Union, for raising questions about David Frum's smear of antiwar
conservatives, calling him a liar and "cracked." Ponnuru writes:
"Not only does Frum not consider himself a neoconservative; he quite
explicitly noted that conservatives in good standing could have reservations about, or
even oppose, the war. In the very issue in which Frum's article appears, he had a short
article lauding an antiwar conservative (Heather MacDonald)."
But here is what Frum
"Questions are perfectly reasonable, indeed valuable. There is more than one
way to wage the war on terror, and thoughtful people will naturally disagree about how
best to do it, whether to focus on terrorist organizations like al-Qaeda and Hezbollah or
on states like Iraq and Iran; and if states, then which state first?"
Our options, then, are limited to which of Israel's enemies do we go after first
Hezbollah? Iraq? Iran? Or Saudi Arabia? Pick one, please. To oppose going to war against
one or all of these entities, as Frum put it, was to objectively "align" oneself
with the "Islamists" and "the left."
As for Heather
MacDonald, the piece he refers to had nothing to do with the war: it was about how
much Frum agreed with her that we should not question anything the police might do, and
that large groups of black males are inherently suspicious. All Ms. MacDonald said, in
public, about this war is that antiwar protestors should stay
at home and not engage in massive demonstrations because they might threaten national
security. She has also said civil libertarians should
shut up and go along with the growth of the Surveillance State for the same reasons.
That's the kind of "antiwar" sentiment Frum and Ponnuru can live with. Any other
kind is "unpatriotic."
Against Devine's contention that perpetual war means an exponential expansion of the
power of Big Government to control every aspect of our lives, Ponnuru writes:
"The ability to frighten would-be aggressors actually doesn't imply that price
controls are a good idea. But the bigger problem with Devine's argument is that the word
'empire' is serving as an incantation rather than as a concept. What's the operational
distinction between true, anti-imperial conservatives and bad, imperial
"neo-conservatives"? Almost nobody is seriously calling for an occupation of
Syria not The Weekly Standard (another Devine target), and certainly not National
Soft-pedaling this administration's stated doctrine of "preemption"
which presupposes an alleged "right" to attack any nation on earth because they
might pose an unspecified threat in the indeterminate future as "the ability
to frighten would-be aggressors" just won't do. What we are talking about here is the
ability and intention to conquer and occupy alleged "aggressors"
well in advance of any aggression. As for Devine's critique of "empire" being an
"incantation": the $10 billion per month price tag, the mounting casualties, and
rising unrest in Iraq is this all an "incantation"?
Ponnuru should try reading his own magazine: National Review has run articles
calling for the
occupation of the Saudi oil fields, and "regime change" not only in Syria
but throughout the Middle East. National Review editor Rich Lowry
infamously called for the nuking of Mecca. Bill Kristol, editor of the Weekly
Standard, and his foreign policy thinktank, the Project for a
New American Century, have advocated
a similar course. All this is a
matter of public record. Does Ponnuru think he can get away with denying it?
"The ability to frighten would-be aggressors actually doesn't imply that price
controls are a good idea" but indeed it does, because "war is the health of the State,"
as the classical liberal Randolph Bourne
correctly put it. It is well-known, for example, that price
controls were brought in during the reign of the Republican Richard Nixon, on account
of the economic
distortions caused by the Vietnam war. "Temporary" rent controls were
imposed in New York City during
World War II in the name of "national security" and never repealed.
During the Korean war, Truman nationalized
the coal mines and threatened
to draft striking workers into the army, all in
the name of "national security."
The Big Government "conservatism" of National Review, limply
defended by the hack Ponnuru, is rapidly losing ground, as evidenced by Ponnuru's
hysterical and quite
ineffective attack on the American Conservative Union. The most serious charge that he
can muster is that the ACU doesn't want to challenge Senator Arlen Spector in a GOP
primary. Meanwhile, Ponnuru & Co. want to ditch conservative opposition to Big
Government in the name of a perpetual war of conquest in the Middle East. It seems to me
that the ACU has a more serious and fundamental argument, which Ponnuru never bothers to
Ponnuru's problem: conservatives are increasingly disenchanted with National
Review's support for Bush's Big Government policies at home and belligerent
expansionism abroad. Stephen Schwartz's exotic brand of neo-leftist
"liberationism" likewise has limited appeal to conservatives. And Larry Elder's
party-line neoconservative blathering is neither "libertarian" nor even
genuinely conservative it is opportunism, pure and simple.
The wackos, weirdos, and wing-dings of the pro-war Right are, collectively, a chorus of
losers and ideological exotics, whose concerns are so far removed from those of real,
ordinary people conservatives, as well as liberals that the distance can
only be measured in light-years. Schwartz, Elder, and Ponnuru, representing the Axis of
Amorality, are doomed, in the end, to lose because all three are second-raters,
liars, and hacks, without credibility, and, what's more, without much of a following. The
louder they scream, the more they smear their political opponents, they more they bring
discredit on themselves and their cause.
Justin Raimondo is Editorial Director
He is a regular columnist for Ether Zone.
Justin Raimondo may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
Published in the June 2, 2003 issue of Ether Zone
Copyright © 1997 - 2003 Ether Zone.
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