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May 14, 2004
George Galloway, Teenager

The London Independent -- a very left-wing newspaper in the fine British broadsheet traditions of partisanship -- reviews the new book published by disgraced Labour MP George Galloway, whose support of Saddam was apparently buttressed by numerous payoffs from the Iraqi regime. You might expect that the Independent would receive Galloway's new book with some sympathy. You would be wrong. Reviewer Johann Hari savages Galloway with a zeal one would have expected from the Telegraph or a Rupert Murdoch publication like the Sun, calling Galloway a "Saddamist" and his book an "incoherent rant" (via Memeorandum):

Unlike the vast majority of those who opposed the recent war, he has crossed over into blatant, full-throated apologism for dictatorship. Initially, he tries to keep up the pretence that he consistently opposed Saddam. He claims that when he saluted Saddam with the words, "Sir, I salute your courage, your strength and your indefatigability", he was in fact addressing "the 23 million Iraqis, not their President." If you wanted to salute the Iraqi people, Georgewhy do it in front of a man who had just murdered over 100,000 of them? ...

Take a look at Galloway's statement that, "In my experience none of the Ba'ath leaders have displayed any hostility to Jews." This beggars belief: the Baathists had publicly hanged Jews, and the Iraqi newspapers (all Ba'ath-sanctioned) were filled with insane ranting against global Jewry. In all his many visits to Saddam's Iraq, did he not pick up a single newspaper? ...

Every single criticism of Saddam is quickly relativized in this way. When Galloway is shown the vast scale of Saddam's palaces, he replies, "Our own head of state has a fair bit of real estate herself". Yes, but British people are not - to use Galloway's words - "dying like flies" on the streets outside. The most bizarre example of Galloway's moral relativism is when he says, "Saddam was a ruthless and cruel man who thought little of signing the death warrants of even close comrades. In this regard he was little different to the leaders of most regimes: we just don't know it in our own countries yet." As if Tony Blair is about to start gassing the SWP and the Tories. As if George Bush is going to start building mass graves in California.

Galloway embodies the relativism that runs through the left -- that the West is nothing special, and that all forms of society and government are equal. What sets him apart is the extent of his rationalization and, quite frankly, the depth of his shallowness. He claims that capitalism has been far more genocidal than Hitler, for instance, and believes that suppression of all markets will bring on a global Utopia, which Hari relates to worldwide Castroism. As for his transgressions with payoffs, they're hardly mentioned, except in the manner that parents of teenagers will recognize: everyone's doing it!

I'll let Hari have the last word, but be sure to read the whole article. You can skip the book, and if you're still tempted, read Hari's conclusion:

Reading this tiny book (more a pamphlet really) in one short sitting made me feel as though I was trapped in a lift with a crack-smoking Stalin. Galloway approvingly cites a description of him from the Guardian as a "left-wing Lawrence of Arabia." It's more astute than he realises. Lawrence stood with Arab tyrants too, arguing that Arabs were too stupid and culturally backward to govern themselves, and were temperamentally suited to "strong men". So does Galloway. No George, you're not the only one. If only ...
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Posted by Ed Morrissey at May 14, 2004 6:49 AM

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