Friday, September 22, 2006

# Posted 9:52 AM by Patrick Porter  

NOT IN MY NAME: I was wondering whether to join a certain British academic trade union. Then I noticed that the union in question has called for the immediate withdrawal of NATO forces from Afghanistan.

Of course, they can think what they want, the NATO strategy in Afgahistan has made some serious errors, and my reaction will hardly worry the union much.

But I can't quite agree to pay any money out of my vast academic salary to support the military abandonment of a country that would lead to the return of the Taleban, a movement that historically smashed Buddhist statues and smashed up the national museum, that banned women from schools and jobs and subjected them to draconian laws, executed homosexuals, and so terrorised the country that millions fled. Not to mention providing sanctuary to Al Qaeda.

It seems to follow a familiar pattern: opposition to what they see as American Imperialism, and allegiance with any regime at all which resists it, has led some progressives into very dark places.

PS: Needless to say, conservatives or rightists have made comparable errors in the past. But this is an instance of people who think of themselves as progressives supporting profoundly reactionary causes, it seems.
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Yeah, righties have gotten into bed with some sick people. Churchill and Stalin, for example.
Oh, hold on a bit. FDR and Stalin?


Well, anyway, there is a difference. No rightwinger is nostalgic for the good old days of the junta in El Salvador. Their pix aren't on chic tee shirts. Like, I shouldn't have to say, Che.
Lefties go for the bad guys because they genuinely like them and hope they succeed. Righties go for the bad guys as a temporary expedient, hold their noses, and are complicit in their erstwhile allies' retirement after the need is over.
The problem is not merely the stance - which is a problem in my view, but which is at least arguable - it's the fact that they have officially affiliated with the Stop the War Coalition. Which means that they're effectively officially affiliated with the Socialist Workers' Party and the Muslim Association of Britain.

Which isn't good company to keep.
Do they stop there or are they into anti-semitism too?
Hey Dearieme,

Not sure about whether they are guilty of antisemitism.

They do advocate boycotting Israeli academics, or at least requiring individuals to disavow their nation's policies to have the boycott lifted when they visit, etc.

This may or may not be anti-semitism, but requiring scholars to express certain opinions on pain of being boycotted is highly illiberal.

As Anthony said, they have affiliations with the Stop the War Coalition, which does sail close to the wind of anti-semitism at times.

My guess would be that most of its members wouldn't think of themselves as anti-semitic, but would say that Jews have a sinister influence in Washington and that Israel is an illegitimate state that should abolish itself.
Hi Patrick,

I think Normblog may have misled you.

The UCU isn't affliated to the Stop the War Coalition, nor is it calling - as a union - on its members to attend the demo.

Besides, opposition to a strategy of war is not reducible to supporting the Taliban, unless support for a strategy of war is to be taken as enthusiasm for Al Quada recruitment efforts. There's a difference between possible outcomes, likely outcomes, and willed outcomes; not to mention simple and compound results.

Most of all, of course, you'd need a very good reason to be a blackleg! :)

I've posted on this at Katheder Blog.
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Hey Marc,

If that's true about their affiliation with the Coalition, I stand corrected.

However, as a union they are providing official and vocal support for the demonstration, which the website makes clear will demand the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan.

I think demanding that we withdraw troops from Afghanistan is effectively demanding that we abandon the country to the Taleban, in effect if not in intent. Particularly at a time when the Taleban are enjoying a military resurgence.

Either this has occurred to the people who make these demands, in which case its an irresponsible position that I don't want to support. Or it has not, and they haven't thought it through.

Blackleg? You say that like its a bad thing :)

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