I have maintained from the beginning that the resistance to jihad is not a partisan issue, or a liberal/conservative issue, but one that should interest and involves all those who live in the West and enjoy the benefits of Western civilization. Nonetheless, it is a fact of life that those who identify the jihad ideology — not American imperialism or Abu Ghraib or Gitmo or Israel or Mossadegh’s toppling or what have you — as the real source of Islamic terrorism are almost universally classified as being on “the Right,” no matter how absurd this classification may be (and it ventured to the outer limits of absurdity when Bat Ye’or was waved away by the New Duranty Times as being part of Europe’s “Far Right”). It is a fact that I have been able to interest only conservative publishers in my books, which fact I believe to be an indictment of the publishing establishment.
In any case, all this shows the ultimate uselessness of these “Left” and “Right” labels. For when we criticize the Bush Administration’s dhimmitude here at Jihad Watch, we are accused of being either “farther to the right than Bush” or “leftist Bush-haters.” In this regard I hope things will be more clearer in 2009 when another President is in office, since the jihad that this site is dedicated to resisting in the name of human rights did not begin with Bush and will not end with him. People often email me listing the alleged crimes of the Bush Administration and/or the United States in general as if such a list constitutes a sufficient riposte to the stories we post here daily. But in fact such lists are irrelevant. We are not interested in defending one Administration, but the American republic in general. We are not here to shill for one ephemeral policy or another, but to defend the West and the civilization it has inspired. Just as the jihadists see themselves as heirs of a 1,400-year-old struggle, so we see ourselves as the heirs of those who have resisted them around the world across the centuries.
Some of those in the resistance may have been on “the Left”; others on “the Right”; ultimately, that’s irrelevant. We no longer have the luxury for such internecine quarrels. Let us defend now our very existence, and then we can sort things out among ourselves.
So: here is Jihad Watch Board Vice President Hugh Fitzgerald’s reductio ad absurdum in response to charges that he, by criticizing Bush’s dhimmitude, had placed himself on “the Left”:
–¦you people (on the left)”¦”
” “¦if JW descends into partisan bush-hating”¦”
–Two comments received by JW after a brief posting critical of Bush’s speech on Iraq
Both statements are true. The person who criticized that speech must obviously have been “on the left” as anyone can tell. And we all know how it is with people on the left” — Oriana Fallaci, Pim Fortuyn, Theo van Gogh, Ibn Warraq, Ali Sina — those appeasers of Islam. Not like Grover Norquist. Not like stout defender of the West Alistair Crooke. Not like Raymond Close. Not like all those ex-diplomats to Arab countries who offer their foreign policy advice whenever they can spare a moment from their new careers as “international business consultants” with a “special expertise in the Middle East.” Not like such disinterested dispensers of policy advice as those former members of ARAMCO — Messrs. Exxon, Mobil, and now young Master Exxon-Mobil — who have been explaining both Islam, and Saudi Arabia, so helpfully, for so many decades, with the results we all see.
Yes, not merely “on the left,” as one poster suggests, not merely one who “descends into partisan bush-hating,” as someone else notes in an email to JW — but, in truth, an Old Bolshevik. You see, I am a lot older than you think. I joined the party before 1905, before the period when a certain Djugashvili was still a wet-behind-the-ears seminary student, and robbing banks in the service of the People, much less benignly presiding over a whole country as the Father of Peoples, was still simply a daydream. I still have my tattered card from 1902– I think I was the fourteenth person to sign up. You can see me, standing to the left of Ulyanov (Lenin) in the photograph of the First Party Congress in Minsk. Like my goatee? Puts you in mind of kindly Anton Pavlovich, doesn’t it? I shaved it off soon after.
And you know what — I was right to join up. I never wavered. I wanted to be on the right side of history, and I was. We won. We marched forward toward Communism, and just look at the results. We took over the whole of Russia. We created the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. We built the White Sea Canal. We had Soviet power, and we electrified the whole country. We went to the moon, into space. We struggled for peace and friendship with all peoples of the world. We helped China –where would China be today if it didn’t have Communism?
And you can imagine how amazed and happy I was to learn on the radio just two months ago, the one they put in all our rooms, the one you can’t shut off — there was a period when we mostly heard poems by Demian Bednij, Demian Bednij, and Mayakovksiy, of course, with those lines about the the “burzhui,” and then after that there were excerpts from Gladkov — you know, I have to admit, I never really liked him — and much later, some verses by a child, about the sun, and Mama, very sweet, very nice. You know what we heard. About America finally accepting Communism. That finally America has accepted Communism. I knew it would happen, but I didn’t expect to live to see it. Wonderful. So just who was on the right side of history, and who was on the wrong side, eh?
And now that I’m 121 years old — and I’m not even a Georgian, I don’t even like yogurt — I think about the old days, as I sit here on this bench, with the bending birch trees on either side. The distance looks like Levitan. Do you know about our little village, the “Posyolok starykh bolshevikov” (the “Settlement for Old Bolsheviks”). Stalin gave it to us. He gave us so many things. Everyone in this country received so much from the government. Why did he do it? Well, he appreciated the fact that we joined the party, threw in our lot with history, before it was the easy, popular thing to do, which was what, after the 1905 Revolution, or pseudo-revolution, it became. You couldn’t keep people away after that.
At first it was just like any of those collections of dachas, Peredelkino, places like that. Just 30 kilometers outside Moscow — so easy to come to, in the summers, to read, and play chess, and go mushroom-collecting, and all those things everyone thinks Russians do — and you know something, that is what we do. I remember how we would sit for hours having tea under the trees, za stolom, and we would be chattering away, and quarreling away, but nature — priroda — would be very quiet, and nothing would bother us except each other, and the little creatures that silently flitted about, sometimes landing on the raspberry jam. Tishina da moshkara.
And then, about 20 years ago — I can’t remember exactly when — the government changed things. The government is never wrong. It decided we should stay here permanently, and now we have a special staff to take care of us, and they are always with us, even when our relatives come to visit, as they sometimes do.
Just last week I received a surprise visit from my grandson. You know, my son had died in the war, and my grandson had gone up to teach in Tartu, but then, just a few years ago, even though he said he had always loved it there in Estonia, he came back to Moscow. He told me “things had changed” but he didn’t say anything else. Anyway, I am glad to see him. And his only child, my great-grandson — I haven’t seen him in so many years, started some kind of thing, I don’t understand how it works, but it serves food very fast to people, and there are many places where the food is served — all over Russia, in Moscow and Leningrad, and even in Stalingrad, probably — very fast for people who need to get back to work. It must be some government idea, just another new way to help the people. My grandson told me, very proudly, that these all have the same name — “Myagkii Snak/Sofsnak.” It’s supposed to mean something, but I don’t know what. Anyway, the government is probably going to give my great-grandson at least a medal, and maybe the right to buy an apartment, for all of his great efforts. Isn’t that wonderful? Vot — that’s Communism.
You know I told you we play chess. Well, for the last 20 years we have had this very nice boy — he may be 40 now — and he is in charge of recreation, and also wheels us wherever we need to go. And the other day I was studying a book by famous grandmaster Paul Keres (you should have seen him in 1935, in Varshava — I was there at the time, for Vneshtorg, on a mission — it was his first great performance, and I have never forgotten that)– his “Sto Partii” (One Hundred Great Games) is no my favorite book, and the other one I really like to re-read is this collection of funny things little children say, from the ages of 2 to 5, that Korney Chukovsky compiled — he must be at least 80 by now.. And I was reading the book by Keres, and moving pieces around on the board, and then Luis, the nice young man from Cuba who for some reason decided not to go back when the Cuban government asked him to — he said he preferred Russian food, and the Russian weather was so much nicer, he explained — well, Luis came right up and looked at what I was doing and said that Keres was not nearly as good as the Cuban Capablanca, Jose Capablanca, the “greatest chess player,” he insisted, “who ever lived.” Well, I think Luis is crazy, he is just letting bourgeois nationalism affect him. But he is a Cuban, not a Soviet citizen, so what do you expect? I didn’t want to offend him because he pushes my chair so carefully, and picks me up when we get to the stairs, and then sets me down so gently. But really — how silly some people can be.
Sometimes we watch television — only documentaries about the war and Marshal Budyonnniy, and then some news programs that Luis told us were made “specially” for our group, and while I watch I have some nice borscht, with sour cream, and pickled herring. And you know, before the last few years, or maybe ten years, we almost never had meat, but now we have satsivi, a special Georgian chicken dish — very tasty — and piroshki with meat — and even real meat from cows. How does our government do it! They are fantastic. I have had satsivi almost once a week the past two years. And before, in fifty years, I remember having it only once — when Comrade Stalin himself served it to us, in 1947, when he called a special gathering of the Old Bolsheviks in the Kremlin, as part of the celebrations after the war.
Memories, memories. Sometimes I get confused. Some zubrovka, perhaps –for one last little session, one final malenkiy mezhdusobojchik, before you have to go? And how are Il”f and Petrov? They were so funny. Pilniak, he was funny too. They were all so funny in those days. And Marshal Frunze — did he recover okay? And whatever happened to Feliks Edmundovich?
I made the right decision. Lenin knew — he knew everything. We took care of Renegade Kautsky. We fooled Ribbentrop. We sold them all the rope. And after the war, nobody could get the better of Comrade Stalin. Not Roosevelt, not Churchill, not those revanchisty in Bonn who keep trying to get back East Germany. They never will. And that’s why, even after all that has happened, at the age of 121, I’m glad you found me out. Yes, of course I am “on the left.” And proud of it. On the right side of history, since 1902.