A Moment of Left-Wing Frustration

I am very tired of the discourse in the media which goes as follows:

X article/book/statement/rodent received heavy criticism both from the Left and from the Right, thereby, readers should realize that X falls nicely in the center, and is thereby superior to equally wrong critics on either side.

A few examples from today (and there are a zillion more):

1. “[Olmert’s] decision to address J Street’s event drew fire from both right and left.” (The Forward: J Street Hopes to Return Focus to Peace at Annual Conference. The Me: By Inviting Ehud Olmert, who Really Showed his Desire for Peace as the Captain of Cast Lead)

2. “From the right, David Frum castigates his Daily Beast colleague along lines similar to Oren’s… From the left, and as if to prove Frum’s point, Richard Silverstein argues that Beinart’s limited boycott doesn’t go far enough, and that Beinart represents “liberal Zionism writing its own requiem.” (Tablet Magazine: Beinart Advocates Partial Boycott).

3. Even Jay Michaelson, whose pieces I usually appreciate (including this one), even if I don’t agree with them in full, did the same thing: “The Left’s vilification of the term [“Zionist”] is equaled only by the Right’s justification of that vilification.” (Daily Beast: Can You Be a Zionist if No One Thinks You Are?)

This sort of paralleling is intellectually (and perhaps even morally) lazy.

The fact that people on the Left and people on the Right both chose to criticize a certain piece/thing does not mean that the criticisms from the Left and the Right are necessarily equally valid.

It also does not mean that the piece/thing necessarily was a moderate-middle. But let’s say, in some cases, it does mean that; the next question we have to ask is this: is the moderate-middle necessarily something to aim for?

If Fred says segregation in the South is a great thing, and Lucy says segregation is a terrible thing, then of course those of us who seek truth, balance, moderation, et cetera must believe that segregation is a pretty good thing, or a medium thing, depending on whether we want to be “center-Left” or “center-Right.” Maybe restaurants should stay segregated and drinking fountains should be integrated!

Right?

No. Not right.

I am a Leftist. I seek to base my views off of values of non-violence, equally and anti-oppression, among other things, and to go from there. Am I sure that my views are more moral or correct than someone on the Right’s? Absolutely not. But I am pretty sure that the fact that I am “on the Left” and the fact that someone else is “on the Right” should not give X blogger/commentator a free pass to paint a sort of mirror-image between Left-wing views and Right-wing views. There may be a parallel in some cases, and there is probably not in most others.

In sum, formula to be wary of: “Left <— perfect-balance —> Right.”

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