Eternal recurrence

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In the Sunday Times of London, Ian Buruma updates an old story in a column that deserves to be widely read: “Thank you, my foolish friends in the West.” Buruma wonders why leftists stand up for dictators despite the left’s “proud tradition of defending political freedoms.” Buruma attributes the left’s approbation of thugs and murderers to “radical Third Worldism.” He writes:

The common element of radical Third Worldism is an obsession with American power, as though the US were so intrinsically evil that any enemy of the US must be our friend, from Mao to Kim Jong-il, from Fidel Castro to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. And if our “friends” shower us with flattery, asking us to attend conferences and sit on advisory boards, so much the better.

The phenomenon described in Buruma’s column can be extended to account in part for the absurd sight of Noam Chomsky paying tribute to Hezbollah last week (photo above), although Chomsky’s flattery of murderers deserves a more searing indictment than Buruma can work up. Something more along the lines of Thomas Sowell’s meditation on “Useful idiots.”

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