Many prominent leftist actions often seem puzzling to the rest of us. When leftwingers ally, for example, with Islamists against America, their position is so recklessly shortsighted that we wonder just how they can act so blatantly against themselves. Islamists in power would completely destroy everything the left holds dear, from freedom of speech to gay rights to feminism, but that doesn't stop groups like the employees of San Francisco's City Lights Books (as mentioned in my previous post) who have openly sided with the jihadists by refusing to sell Oriana Fallaci's pro-Western text The Force Of Reason. That this stance contradicts the leftists' own interests is quite obvious. But why can't they seem to see it? How blinded by ideology can one possibly be?
This same quandary also pops up frequently when encountering leftist political thought, from Jimmy Carter's peace-at-all-costs support of Hugo Chavez to European elites welcoming radical Muslim immigration to American university professors defending the motives of the 9/11 terrorists. Each time, we wonder: What can they possibly be thinking? Of course they must believe in their actions, but how can they not recognize such blatant missteps?
There probably isn't a definitive one-size-fits-all answer, but I'd like to offer an explanation that may account for much of it. Leftwingers believe, as Dennis Prager has touched on in the past, that all people are inherently good.
So what's the problem? In reality, being good is a choice, and while many people indeed act as such, others unfortunately choose to act evilly. But if you believe everyone is inherently good, then evil cannot truly exist and evildoers are not wrong but misunderstood. Therefore, instead of trying to defeat evil, you're always explaining it away, and thus unchecked the evil only grows worse.
Sadly in many cases, this is exactly what leftism has done. How many times have we heard statements such as the following: The terrorists aren't evil but are responding to legitimate grievances. Therefore, we shouldn't judge them, but must apologize for our own actions which must have provoked them. Crime is not the criminal's fault, but a result of his poor economic situation and oppression by society. Palestinian suicide bombers are not evil, just desperate because Israel has left them with no other choice. Muslims in Europe aren't wrong to be violent, just angry over unemployment and discrimination. It's okay for Hugo Chavez to suppress freedom; he has no other choice because of Venezuela's rich-poor gap. Saddam and bin Laden are not truly bad guys; they became dictatorial to rebel against the modern culture that threatened their traditional ways of life. The list goes on and on. Each time, the leftists see no evil because their belief in humanity's 100% goodness does not allow for the possibility.
Seen from this point of view, then, their actions no longer seem quite so ridiculous. These people naively believe that evil isn't real and proceed to act accordingly.
Look, for example, at a popular review of Steven Spielberg's film Munich by well known movie critic Harry Knowles. A self-confessed bleeding heart liberal, Knowles is clearly a nice guy and obviously well intentioned. But look at what he says about America's enemies:
[Munich] doesn’t just humanize the assassins, but the targets. Not only that - Steven dares to put them in the same room, to find a music they can both stand. To have the leader of a PLO group talk with a leader of an Israeli group about the resolve and hopelessness of either's situation...
We like to think of those on the other side as inhuman retches of society. They probably eat animals raw – or even fetid rancid with maggots. They spend all their time sharpening knives and acting like crazed madmen frothing at the mouth. They hate life and go around slapping anyone that looks at them.
In the 40s when we went to war with Japan, Italy and Germany – we made them inhuman monstrosities. It’s easier to kill an animal, than a man. Here, Spielberg attempts to defuse that by making these plotters of the unthinkable… just men. Intellectuals that would translate books to further their culture. That have cute children and loving wives. That appreciate a night sky and young love. That dream of living where their fathers lived and raising an olive tree. A people that dream of a better tomorrow, but dedicated to die for that dream. Same as the men that are hunting them.
Notice the review's key points? Like many leftists, Knowles simply can't acknowledge the presence of evil. We didn't make Japan, Italy, and Germany out to be monstrosities during World War II; they WERE monstrosities. It's not wrong to demonize the PLO terrorists; they DID act like inhuman retches of society. The hard left just doesn't get it.
But as events have played out over again ad infinitum, appeasing evil in the name of understanding never works and only emboldens the evildoers. Until the left recognizes this, they are part of the problem, not part of the solution. Albert Einstein once said that "the world is a dangerous place, not because of those who do evil, but because of those who look on and do nothing." This advice is well worth heeding.