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When the tree huggers finally see the light

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    When the tree huggers finally see the light

    From The Guardian

    When lefties turn to the right

    Peter Wilby


    Lots of people move to the right as they grow older, and newspaper commentators are no exception. Paul Johnson is the best-known example. As New Statesman editor, he celebrated the 1968 student and worker uprisings in France with overwrought prose and quotations from Wordsworth. Now, he is a dyspeptic columnist for the Daily Mail and the Spectator. Mary Kenny, once a libertarian, now battles for family values. Melanie Phillips, once a stern, left-wing Guardian social commentator, is now a stern, right-wing Mail social commentator.
    Few move in the opposite direction, though Peregrine Worsthorne, former editor and columnist at the Sunday Telegraph, has repented of his one-time enthusiasm for Margaret Thatcher and of his belief that we were better dead than red.

    So what are we to make of Nick Cohen, the most uncompromising left-wing columnist in the British press for most of the past decade? How far right is he going? He cheered the Bush/Blair invasion of Iraq and, despite all that has happened and all that has been revealed since, continues to do so. He has also questioned harshly the motives of the anti-war movement. More recently, he has declared opposition to comprehensives and support for the return of grammar schools.

    His column in the London Evening Standard last Tuesday revealed what looks like another rightwards lurch, and perhaps the most dramatic yet, given Cohen's history as an eloquent defender of civil liberties. Judges who try to stop Muslim clerics being deported unlawfully, he argued, are wrong. He quoted the case of Hani Youssef, allegedly a member of Islamic Jihad. This was the case that caused the prime minister, when informed of difficulties in the courts, to scribble furiously: "This is crazy. Why can't we press on?" Cohen is with Blair. Youssef should go back to Egypt, he insists, even though he has no chance of getting a fair trial.

    Cohen's journey is similar to that of Christopher Hitchens, another jewel in the left-wing crown, who, since September 11 2001, has stood shoulder to shoulder with the American neocons. Hitchens says that he no longer belongs to the left and has resigned his column on the Nation, the US equivalent of the New Statesman. By contrast, Cohen, who continues to write for the NS as well as the Observer, argues that the left has gone right, not him. The left should be secular and liberal, he says, but the anti-war movement has, in effect, found itself supporting Islamic fascists. "To read the liberal press," Cohen tells me, "you would think the authentic Muslim is a religious fanatic. But there are Iraqi and Kurdish socialists and communists. I can talk to them. Most liberal journalists can't and won't." As for the demand that Youssef should receive a fair trial in Egypt, with independent judges, rights to examine witnesses and access to British solicitors, Cohen calls it "legal imperalism"; we should require that he won't be tortured and leave it at that, he says. This appears to put him to the right of Cherie Blair.

    Cohen assures me that he has no intention of following Johnson's long political journey. Since he is a personal friend, whose journalism I admire (I hired him twice, once on the Independent on Sunday, once on the NS), I believe him. But I don't underestimate the sense of betrayal on the left. When the rest of the press was cheering on Blair, particularly in new Labour's early days, Cohen was his most virulent critic and almost the only coherent voice asserting "real left" values. Now, in some eyes, he has deserted the cause when it needs him most.

    What causes left-wing commentators to slip their moorings in their 40s? Perhaps some just follow the cliché that if you are not a socialist up to 40, you have no heart and, if you are still one after 40, you have no head. Others find that property ownership or parenthood make them right-wing. Others again get mugged or burgled. I suspect a good many just want more income; after all, there are only a few left-of-centre newspapers and magazines and most of them pay badly, or not at all.

    But I fear there is another reason. Leftwing commentators get bored. The past 25 years have not been a fertile period for ideas on the left, and new Labour has induced further timidity, lest bold thinking reawaken Tory devils. Though it now shows signs of fading, the intellectual ferment of our age has been on the right - which, to take just one example, has given far more intelligent consideration to the legalisation of drugs. Leftwing writers and publications are often accused of being too predictable, and the charge has some justice to it.

    Cohen and Hitchens are among the cleverest people I know. In the end, I guess, the left proved too much of straitjacket for their restless minds.
    Sola gratia

    Sola fide

    Soli Deo gloria

    #2
    Oh FFS.

    Do you ever have an original thought of your own? Endless re-post's of someone else's views is obviously something you've picked up from your Christian brain washing mind programme. Try thinking for yourself for once, I think therefore I am, you know ...
    Last edited by snaw; 1 August 2005, 10:42.
    Hang on - there is actually a place called Cheddar?? - cailin maith

    Any forum is a collection of assorted weirdos, cranks and pervs - Board Game Geek

    That will be a simply fab time to catch up for a beer. - Tay

    Have you ever seen somebody lick the chutney spoon in an Indian Restaurant and put it back ? - Cyberghoul

    Comment


      #3
      I wonder if we have any examples of brain-washed loony Christians who become free-thinkers

      there must be a web site somewhere
      Last edited by EternalOptimist; 1 August 2005, 11:23.
      (\__/)
      (>'.'<)
      ("")("") Born to Drink. Forced to Work

      Comment


        #4
        Originally posted by EternalOptimist
        I winder if we have any examples of brain-washed loony Christians who become free-thinkers

        there must be a web site somewhere
        http://www.ravingatheist.com/
        http://www.wealth4freedom.com/truth/brainwashing.htm

        Dear Lord, the gods have been good to me. As an offering, I present these milk and cookies. If you wish me to eat them instead, please give me no sign whatsoever ... thy will be done. (munch munch munch)
        I'll make the money by selling one of my livers. I can get by with one.

        Comment


          #5
          Nice one...

          "Give a man a fish, and you'll feed him for a day; give him a religion, and he'll starve to death while praying for a fish." -- Author Unknown
          If you think my attitude stinks, you should smell my fingers.

          Comment


            #6
            While the raving "atheist" foam at the mouth and stumble in the darkness the purveyors of truth smile in the knowledge that they bask in glow of light.
            Sola gratia

            Sola fide

            Soli Deo gloria

            Comment


              #7
              Originally posted by Chico
              While the raving "atheist" foam at the mouth and stumble in the darkness the purveyors of truth smile in the knowledge that they bask in glow of light.
              Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.........

              Comment


                #8
                Hmmm shall I give up the atheist baiting?
                Sola gratia

                Sola fide

                Soli Deo gloria

                Comment


                  #9
                  Originally posted by Chico
                  Hmmm shall I give up the atheist baiting?
                  I think you need a dictionary for the word baiting. And atheist while you're at it.
                  If you think my attitude stinks, you should smell my fingers.

                  Comment


                    #10
                    Originally posted by Chico
                    While the raving "atheist" foam at the mouth and stumble in the darkness the purveyors of truth smile in the knowledge that they bask in glow of light.
                    A similar effect can be obtained by a full frontal lobotomy.

                    Comment

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