Do we have an antiwar movement? We’re getting there. We must be, because we’re catching flak from the anti-antiwar movement, Light Infantry Division, staffed by Marc Cooper, Todd Gitlin, David Corn and Christopher Hitchens.
Cooper, like Gitlin, has carved out a pleasant niche for himself, belaboring various left causes from a position purporting to represent robust common sense. It’s a posture endearing to op-ed editors, particularly if there’s an insinuation that somewhere, way back, the author had left credentials. It’s fair to raise the issue of credentials, since the prime line of attack by the light infantry is to belabor the credentials of the antiwar left as dumbos, cat’s-paws, dictator-lovers, cultists.
Back at the start of 2000 Cooper publicly prayed to God to make that same year “free of Mumia,” tactfully leaving the manner of this liberation undescribed. Inaccurate gibes at the Mumia defense followed. In the Los Angeles Times for September 29, Cooper prays once more, this time for “an effective, attractive and moral opposition” to the Administration’s rush to war. And how will this antiwar opposition be “effective, attractive and moral”? By condoning the US rationale for sanctions, and by accepting the terms of argument employed by George Bush for the use of military force.
Cooper derides Ramsey Clark for calling the sanctions “genocidal.” Would you march with Clark or Cooper? If you are hesitating, read Joy Gordon’s chilling description in the November Harper’s Magazine, of how the United States has been applying sanctions designed to kill children in Iraq, then make up your mind.
Far more than Cooper, Todd Gitlin has made a career out of issuing advisories about the “hard left” and the “Old Left.” Though Gitlin usually pretends that he’s trying to counsel the left toward improved conduct under the Gitlin Seal of Approval, I don’t think he has much interest in the left as anything other than a case study for his unctuous punditry.
In a recent Mother Jones Gitlin reports that at a rally outside the UN he spotted placards saying “No Sanctions, No Bombing.” Snappy, you say. Exactly the message a peace movement might want to get across. Gitlin disagrees. His preferred placard would be the most heavily footnoted text since Lynn White Jr.’s history of the stirrup. Like Cooper, Gitlin fears above all the stigma of “peacenik dupe,” which means that he wants the placard to make it clear that (a) Saddam bears responsibility for his country’s plight, and (b) the bombings of Iraq since 1991 by the US (tactfully described by Gitlin, echoing the Defense Department, as “no-fly-zone sorties”) are OK. Tough placard to design, and heavy, if you factor in the square footage required for Gitlin’s text.