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Hey Everyone, Look At Me!

So I was watching HardBall the other day, and there was an exchange that disgusted me, and captured the bankruptcy of certain segments of the anti-war left. Chris Matthews was discussing the possible British reaction to the then-upcoming Bush state visit to the United Kingdom, and he asked Labour Party MP Jeremy Corbyn about his opposition to the war. Corbyn denounced it repeatedly, but then felt compelled to add:

CORBYN: He doesn't publicly share that mission.

But I just want to go back slightly here. The arming of Iraq, the funding of Iraq, the support for Saddam Hussein and his internal coup in the Baath Party, where did all that come from in the late 1970s and '80s? I've been in Parliament since 1983 as a member of the British Parliament.

I was almost alone in condemning the gas attacks at Halabja in 1988.

There weren't hundreds of people demonstrating, like I was, outside the Iraqi Embassy at that time. I went to Northern Iraq in 1991. I saw the results of that. I am not a spokesperson or support in any way Saddam Hussein.

In other words, Corbyn wants to point out that just because he is vehemently anti-American and anti-Bush, he isn't pro-Saddam. And his evidence for this, the thing he's so proud of? He demonstrated outside the embassy. In short, ineffectual public displays are sufficient to demonstrate one's morality; actually taking steps to accomplish the goal, on the other hand, is completely wrong. I have no doubt that this Corbyn guy is anti-Saddam; that's not the issue here. The issue here is that his opposition to Saddam Hussein was apparently motivated not by a desire to help Saddam Hussein's victims, but to make him feel better about himself. He could pat himself on the back and say, "I demonstrated." That's all that really mattered to him. Whether he helped a single person was unimportant.

I know I'm beating a dead horse here, particularly since Saddam Hussein has about as much chance of making a comeback as Cop Rock does. But I think it's important to point out that the debate over Iraq was not, as some portrayed it, merely a debate over means. It was not a debate where both sides agreed upon what needed to be done, and disagreed only about how to achieve that goal. Rather, it was a debate between people who wanted to say something and people who wanted to do something. Members of the former group were motivated by a desire to improve their self-esteem; members of the latter group wanted to achieve a goal (for good or ill). It's a substantive difference.


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Comments (1)

Val Dunmow:

Jeremy Corbyn is the MP for Islington, London, where I live. He is not a man that the electorate in this area would ever consider to be 'self seeking', but one who is concerned with the problems of the poor all over the world and with the environment. He is anti-war, anti-terrorist and he walks with the people when we demonstrate for the first and against the last of these things. A member of the Labour Party, he is not afraid to stand up and disagree when he things something is wrong. In fact, an honourable man and not a bit like your portrayal of him.


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