Bravo, Peter Tatchell
An article in today’s Guardian newspaper by Peter Tatchell provides a small but illuminating look at the way in which some sections of the left have debased themselves in their rush to condemn everything American, Zionist and imperialist without … Read More
An article in today’s Guardian newspaper by Peter Tatchell provides a small but illuminating look at the way in which some sections of the left have debased themselves in their rush to condemn everything American, Zionist and imperialist without stopping to question the motives of those they’re climbing into bed with.
Tatchell is a veteran British leftist and campaigner who achieved a degree of notoriety as a prominent member of OutRage!, a gay rights organisation that embarked in the early 1990’s on a high profile, and controversial, campaign of ‘outing’ public figures who were homophobic in public but homosexual in private. (The group’s targets included churchmen and politicians, and was accused of indirectly causing the death of a Northern Irish politician who suffered a heart attack on the day he was to be ‘outed’ in the press.)
I’ve never cared for such tactics, which strike me as squalid and morally suspect, but Tatchell’s stature has grown steadily over the years, and he is one of the most impressive figures on the British Left – a consistent critic of totalitarianism, oppression and intolerance wherever he finds it, and particularly concerned about human rights abuses in places like Zimbabwe and Iran that too many British leftists have abandoned in favour of causes celebres that fit more easily into their worldview (i.e., that can be blamed on the US or Israel).
Last Friday was “Al-Quds” day – an anti-Zionist day of action dreamed up by Khomeini after the 1979 revolution. Sunday saw the annual Al-Quds rally in London, with the snappy slogan "End Child Killing! End Oppression! End Israeli Apartheid!" It was supported by all the usual suspects: George Galloway’s Respect Party, “anti-racism campaigners” the 1990 Trust (some kinds of racism are clearly worse than others), the Muslim Association of Britain, Hizb ut-Tahrir and so on. Our hero decided to go along to Al-Quds Day with two placards; one reading “Free Palestine” and the other proclaiming "Oppose the government of Iran, support the people of Iran”, and carrying the photo of Atefeh Rajabi Sahaaleh, a schoolgirl who was publicly executed for “crimes against chastity” after being repeatedly raped by a middle-aged taxi driver. (Follow the link to read her story, by the way; it is genuinely moving and inspiring. In a just world there will, one day, be a statue of her in downtown Tehran.)
Tatchell’s experience was informative. Let’s allow him to take up the tale in his own words:
As soon as I turned up at the al-Quds demo, I was subjected to a barrage of violent, threatening invective from large sections of the crowd. Some started chanting: “Tatchell is a Zionist, Tatchell is a paedophile. Get out! Get out! Get out!” […]
I was treated to a torrent of hatred all the way from Hyde Park to Trafalgar Square. Some of the al-Quds marchers shouted things like: “You are all Zionists and CIA agents. How much money did Bush pay you to come here today?” Others claimed: “Stop posing as a supporter of Palestine. You have never supported Palestine” – malevolently disregarding the fact that I was a founder member of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign in 1982.
Six of the al-Quds marchers made attempts to physically attack me. It was only police intervention that stopped them. […]
Many of the marchers were carrying Hizbullah flags and chanting: "We are all Hizbullah now." When I pointed out that Hizbullah kills innocent Israeli civilians, and endorses the execution of women and gay people who transgress their extremist version of Islam, I was told things like: "That's good. Society has to have order. These punishments are necessary for the good of society."
It’s hard to think of a more pathetic spectacle than watching socialists morph into apologists for fascism before your very eyes, but this is the macabre reality of the anti-American, anti-Zionist Left’s journey over the past decade or so. All world events are viewed through the distorting prism of these two great evils; oppression around the world is either shoe-horned roughly into the overarching narrative or, where it cannot be (Burma, say, or Zimbabwe), millions of people are quietly, silently, left to their fate. And the Galloways and Pinters of this world find themselves speaking up, with obvious relish, for men who would, if ever they found themselves with the opportunity to do so, imprison and execute the likes of Peter Tatchell without a moment’s hesitation. What depressing times we live in.