Tuesday, February 26, 2002

TODD GITLIN, QUALITY LIBERAL: Here he is on the SLA. Via Dr. Frank, who also has some thoughts on the subject:

The SLA were indeed murderers who made no sense. But I wish someone would explain how the Weatherman's "chaosify Amerikkka" program is any less nonsensical than the SLA's "death to the fascist insect that preys upon the life of the people." In all sincerity, I cannot tell the difference. Of course, most people involved in the New Left were harmless, idealistic if misguided, non-violent, ordinary folks-- they even occasionally made sense. The SLA monsters are indeed a "special case" in that regard. Yet as to the obscurantism and vagueness (not to mention chutzpah) noted by Gitlin, that seems to me to be the essence of the Maoist and Marxist-Leninist rhetoric of New Left activism, not some bizarre exception. And if the widespread "kill the pigs" ethos did lead some psychos to take it upon themselves actually to kill some pigs, shouldn't those who peddled and promoted that ethos take some responsibility?

Gitlin is one of those guys, like Hitchens, who shed a lot of liberal orthodoxy after the attacks. Or at least the difference between him and the liberal orthodoxy became obvious after the attacks. I wonder if his thoughts on the media have changed as well since then.

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