Saturday, September 19, 2009

"mugged by reality"

Al Jazeera English may seem like an unlikely place to read an obituary for Irving Kristol. However, they were so prompt in relaying the story from their wire sources to their Web site that this was the first place I received news of the death of this neoconservative-born-again-from-Trotskyism. The report reminded me of the one phrase from Kristol that has always stuck in my mind, his assertion that a neoconservative was nothing more than a liberal who had been "mugged by reality."

In light of how Kristol associated movement from the left to the right in the context of a violent attack, I wonder what he would have thought about the news from Belgrade reported by the BBC this morning:

A gay parade planned to take place in Belgrade on Sunday has been cancelled, due to security concerns.

The decision came after a recent wave of homophobic graffiti that has appeared across the city with slogans like "Gay parade - we're waiting for you" and "Death to homosexuals".

Past days have seen increased threats from ultra-nationalist groups vowing to stop the parade at all costs.

The organisers and city authorities feared a repeat of eight years ago, when Belgrade's first ever gay parade had to be abandoned half-way through due to widespread violence by an angry mob of protesters.

Television pictures of bleeding participants and police firing rubber bullets to disperse the crowd were flashed across the globe.

One wonders just how the gay community of Belgrade will respond to this "mugging" by the reality of the city's right-wing nationalists. Would Kristol suggest that they turn to conservatism through if-you-can't-lick-'em-join-'em logic? If so, then it might be a good example of how, at the end of the day, what the neoconservatives offered as logic was not logic at all but just a more elaborate form of intimidation masquerading as logic. If the gays of Belgrade prevail, it will be because their left-wing commitment to civil rights will withstand the "muggings" of conservatives (in the spirit of those who first tried to get members of the black community to register to vote in the Deep South), rather than capitulating to it. Kristol may have had a sufficient impact in the corridors of power of his own time to be remembered in an obituary; but today we have only to look at strife around the world to recognize that his theories never rose above the level of balderdash!

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