Sunday, September 16, 2007

No Enemies To The Left

Ann Althouse links to this "scary, weird" Jane Hamsher post over at Firedoglake. Hamsher is mad because Elizabeth Edwards criticized over the Petraus/Betrayus advertisement. I mean, Hamsher is really, really, mad. And she lays down the law:

So here’s the rule. You never repeat right wing talking points to attack your own, ever. You never enter that echo chamber as a participant. Ever. You never give them a hammer to beat the left with. Just. Don’t. Do. It.

I can't even begin to catalogue the things that are wrong and creepy, and really off-putting about this statement. And it's not an isolated theme on Hamsher's part -- she links to two of her own prior statements taking the same view. Here's what she said a year ago:

First of all — I don't care if John Kerry was eating live babies on TV, one week out from an election you do not repeat GOP talking points. Ever.

And lest anybody think she didn't mean it, in her most recent post, Hamsher linked to this prior statement and quoted herself at length -- including the "eating babies" part.

Note one thing Hamsher doesn't say -- or at least if she did, I sure missed it. She didn't say to avoid Republican talking points which are wrong, or misguided, or unfair, or stupid. She seems to be saying one shouldn't concede points even if they are true. Granted, the part about "eating babies" is probably exaggeration for rhetorical effect, but we all agree (I think) that baby-eating is a bad thing, worthy of condemnation. The non-exaggerated version of the principle she seems to be articulating is "don't criticize the left, even when they're wrong."

To her, it's not about finding truth or getting the right answer. It's all about tactics, about rhetoric, about PR and fighting the partisan war of words. But mostly it's about getting power, power for its own sake.

I don't want to sound like I'm red-baiting, but isn't this a return to the old communist notion of the "party line"? The idea being that you don't express public disagreement with the party, even if you think the party line is wrong? I seldom see such strident demands for group loyalty among conservatives and libertarians.

Ultimately, this is the collectivist, totalitarian impulse: the desire to crush dissent and stifle debate. The demand for "unity" and group loyalty. It's this sort of Leninist approach to politics that resulted in the deaths of tens, if not hundreds of millions of innocent people in the 20th Century. If the "progressive" movement hopes to form any kind of humane, post-communist left, it is thinking like this that they have to abandon.

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