Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The Left and the Non-Benign Movement

[Originally posted at NOW Lebanon]

There isn’t one leftist in Lebanon who doesn’t know to snicker at Walid Jumblatt’s pretensions to “progressive socialism.” So it was truly an irony that he alone should have made the morally obvious point that this week’s Non-Aligned Movement summit in Tehran is a congregation, not of courageous and downtrodden freedom fighters, but of some of the most diabolically reactionary, fascistic and blood-drenched despots on the planet.

Pointing to the presence of a Damascus representative in particular, the old Soviet ally impugned “Arab leaders who [are] sitting alongside those who represent a bulwark against the rights of the Syrian people and their epic struggle.”

It is indeed dismaying to watch the “revolutionaries” of Egypt, Libya and Tunisia, not to mention the Palestinian leadership, linking fraternal arms with every bigot and butcher from Marrakesh to Muscat. Not that the shame is confined to the Arab world – hands have been warmly extended to the dictatorships of Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan, Venezuela and Zimbabwe too, inter multa alia.

Yet the elephant in the room is of course the host state itself; the inimitable Islamic Republic of Iran. This dysfunctional regime may not be the Third Reich that its rivals unceasingly tell us it is, but it certainly keeps human rights NGOs in business: hundreds of executions, sometimes of children; floggings and amputations for lesser criminals; routine use of torture; de jure second-class citizenship for women, minorities and homosexuals; imprisonment of political rivals, including the head of the opposition, Mir Hossein Mousavi; and zero free speech. And that’s just in 2012.

Not that one would hear a word about this from the Lebanese left – a left that is not usually coy about its grievances. The same activists that denounce rock concerts in Tel Aviv as “whitewashing” Israeli apartheid are apparently unperturbed by the Iranian state media eulogizing the “poetic justice” of “the majority of the world […] standing with Iran” at this week’s summit in the face of the “heinous criminality” of the West. “So long vilified by Washington and its quislings, Iran is now being vindicated by the rest of the world,” it gloats.

Not In My Name, thank you very much.

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