THE PLANK NOVEMBER 23, 2007
Chris Hedges is perhaps the shrillest of today's left-wing chicken littles -- no small feat, that -- whose decline into paranoia has been made all the more fascinating by just how quickly he has sunk (Hedges was not always a polemicist; in the 1990's, he was the Middle East bureau chief of The New York Times). His latest piece in The Nation, however, entitled "Hands Off Iran," rivals Naomi Wolf in its sheer descent into loony-toons territory.
Hedges the Hero tells us what he'll do if Bush launches a war into Iran: he'll refuse to pay his taxes:
A country that exists in a state of permanent war cannot exist as
a democracy. Our long row of candles is being snuffed out. We may soon
be in darkness. Any resistance, however symbolic, is essential. There
are ways to resist without being jailed. If you owe money on your
federal tax return, refuse to pay some or all of it, should Bush attack
Iran. If you have a telephone, do not pay the 3 percent excise tax. If
you do not owe federal taxes, reduce what is withheld by claiming at
least one additional allowance on your W-4 form--and write to the IRS to
explain the reasons for your protest.
Gone are the days of hunger strikes and street protest; Bobby Sands and Abbie Hoffman aren't heroes of the radical left anymore. Grover Norquist is.
Such hysterical, bag-lady type ranting should not come as a surprise when it's from the mouth of the man who infamously declared that Israeli soldiers "entice children like mice into a trap and murder them for sport." (That lurid sentence was published not in the Times, but Harper's, the go-to publication these days for respectable AIDS denialism).
One wonders if Hedges is even aware of the fellow-traveling provenance of the "Hands Off" declaration. (Its origins lie in the propaganda of Lee Harvey Oswald's crypto-communist Fair Play for Cuba Committee, which issued exactly the same pronouncement in favor of a non-tacticle approach to the Castro regime as Hedges does for American policy towards the Islamic Republic). But, given The Nation's long, proud tradition of anti-anti-totalitarianism, Hedges's prescient warnings in its pages of Amerikkka are less a novelty than an iteration. (This brings to mind the strange defense mounted by The Nation and others, for many years unto this very day, of people like the Rosenbergs and Alger Hiss: if America was, at best, morally equivalent to the Soviet Union, and there's nothing morally wrong with being a communist, why such painstaking efforts to declare that these people were not members of the Party and traitors to their country? It's similar to one of the more perplexing shizofrenic manias of the "Arab Street": denying that the Jewish Holocaust occurred while simultaneously offering high approval ratings for Hitler).
Michael Weiss of Jewcy asks a pertinent question: "But I wonder, would Hedges be so kind as to advocate the same policy
of non-intervention for Iran's Revolutionary Guard and its murderous
proxies in Iraq? 'Hands off Mosul' would be a nice complementary op-ed,
while we're on the subject of 'fallout' and 'regional conflagrations.'"