Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Soloway's Transformation

The Big Lie: On Terror, Antisemitism, and Identity

By Jamie Glazov | May 9, 2007
Frontpage Interview's guest today is David Solway, the award-winning author of over twenty-five books of poetry, criticism, educational theory, and travel. He is a contributor to magazines as varied as the Atlantic, the Sewanee Review, Books in Canada, and the Partisan Review. He is the author of the new book, The Big Lie: On Terror, Antisemitism, and Identity.

FP: David Solway, welcome to Frontpage Interview.
Solway: Both a pleasure and an honor.
FP: Can you give us a background in regards to your political odyssey as a member of the Political Faith up until 9/11?
Solway: As I write in the preface to The Big Lie, I was a product of the utopian 60s with its belief that all our problems could be solved by the exercise of tolerance, sympathy, openness to other's views and the practice of what I might call an oceanic love for Mother Earth and all her suffering children. Inevitably, such vast, undifferentiated sentiments led to their opposites -- narcissism, an unwavering belief in our own undoubted rectitude, political dogmatism and a lack of tolerance for all those who did not endorse our views. This is not to say that many good things did not happen, the Civil Rights movement and the anti-Vietnam protests in particular, but in the end we became a cohort of self-righteous prigs--rampant sex not withstanding--convinced that we could change the world with our music, our slogans, our reversion to the "natural" symbolized by the long hair we grew pro forma (I had a friend who would spend hours every day sitting on the floor and willing his hair to grow), the use of herbal stimulants to help us break the mental shackles our society had imposed upon us, the flouting of normative dress codes, and our love affair with the oppressed of the world.
I was very much a part of this Arcadian Jacuzzi, a member of the approved Left, anti-American, anti-Zionist and pro-Palestinian, anti-colonialist, anti-corporatist, embracing all the multicultural pieties of the times. When I was a student at Berkeley, I used to hang out with Mario Savio and the guys and gals who roistered in the cafes and bars on Telegraph Avenue. You might say I was a fringe member of the Free Speech Movement.
But none of us were much given to self-interrogation. We felt like the Fifth Monarchy men of the modern age, a new Model Army of youthful saints marching toward the dawning millennium, cherishing our quixotic dream that war, hatred and inequality could be abolished once and for all, that human being were essentially good, and that all distinctions between people could be healed and transcended. Make love, not war.
So we made love while wars proliferated across the planet. By the way, it's not all that different today, only instead of making love, we make speeches. Those on the political Left today are the heirs of the visionary 1960s, smoking a different kind of Maryjane, popping another sort of LSD, toking up on the rhetoric of climate change, of poor abused terrorists deprived of their legal rights, on the sanctity of different cultures despite their violation of human rights and the infliction of cruelty, on the need to expiate the sins of our ancestors, and so on. So instead of Mario Savio and Daniel Cohn-Bendit, we have Al Gore, Michael Moore, Jack Layton and Elizabeth May. Plus ca change.


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