Liberals and conservatives are supposedly in total opposition to each other; to a large extent this is true. But there are points where they converge – a good example is the Obama administration, which has continued the same neocolonial regime as his predecessor.
This happens in the journalistic realm as well, as evidenced recently by veteran liberal New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof and businessman/Jewish-Christian supremacist Keith Davies.
In a piece called “Is Islam The Problem?” Kristof poured over the possible reasons why the Middle East has lagged behind in vital areas like science, education and the economy, denouncing those who say it’s Islam’s fault, but also downplaying the impact of colonialism as well, citing Duke University Professor Timur Kuran’s new book, “The Long Divergence: How Islamic Law Held Back the Middle East.”
According to Professor Kuran, “For all its discontents, the Middle East’s colonial period brought fundamental transformation, not stagnation; rising literacy and education, not spreading ignorance; and enrichment at unprecedented rates, not immiserization.” In other words, Western colonialism was good cause a Muslim said so; hence, no guilt, no shame.
Davies called for going back to the good old days of the British Empire, when the white man kept the natives in their place in his piece “Colonial Policies of the Past in the Middle East Means Freedom.” It’s an a-historical and poorly written piece that ignores the brutality and exploitation of European colonialism and its role in shaping events that continue to unfold to this day.
“During the dominance of the British Empire, peace and security with relative freedom for minorities were the order of the day in the Middle East, not an ideal constitutional republic like the USA or the democracies of Europe but much better than what is currently on display in the Middle East.”
Kristof is the consummate liberal; he praises Obama and has been a consistent cheerleader for the ongoing Arab revolution. Davies is the chief handler for Palestinian “ex-terrorist” and rabid Christian Zionist Walid Shoebat, who spreads anti-Muslim lies for money. In regular rants on his email listerv, he makes claims that Obama “acts like a far left winger” and “University campuses over the last 50 years” have “become places filled with ideological leftists.” He also regularly describes the media in his rants as “left-wing.”
Yet the interesting thing about this is that despite their ideological divergence, both men not only rely on Middle Eastern mouthpieces to justify their views, but they also speak of Western colonialism in the past tense.
There are obvious differences – Kuran is an intellectual, while Shoebat is anti-intellectual – but Kristof finding common revisionist ground with Davies and denying both the unequivocal evil that was Western colonialism and its current American neocolonial existence is yet another example of liberalism’s inability to act as an effective counterweight against both imperialism and the far right of which Davies plays an important part. In order to end the occupation of Afghanistan that Kristof opposes, a proper anti-imperialist framework is essential; and essential to an effective anti-imperialism is rejecting the parameters that theocratic racists like Keith Davies use to frame their revisionism.