When is a first strike not a first strike?
When it's Anticipatory Retaliation.

February 11, 2005

Whose Side Are They On? The Lynne Stewart Conviction


Wretchard has a post up about Lynne Stewart's conviction wherein he makes the observation not only that the compassion of the left is selective, but that it's conditioned by the Left's "refusal to acknowledge anything smaller than a mass noun." The essence of this perspective concerns the evidence that Stewart, along with some co-conspirators, sought to use the leverage of the kidnapping of civilians, including "poor" Filipinos and children as well as the sick and elderly, to leverage their negotiations for the Sheik's treatment and release. In essence it concerns a defacto alliance with the Al Qaeda-affiliated kidnappers. It's instructive to consider just how the Left and Stewart's team are spinning this story, including the presentation of their attempts to employ the leverage of the kidnappings.

I just watched a rather longish and in depth interview on LinkTV's Democracy Now "news" program with Lynne Stewart, Ramsey Clark, and Stewart's lawyer (whose name I can't recall). It's clear that the Left is presenting this conviction as a tragedy, taking full advantage not only of Stewart's "Mother-Hubbardish" physical characteristics (which I'm sure have served her well in the courtroom) but also the symbolism of the fact that she was convicted in the same courtroom as the Rosenbergs, and lives in a neighborhood where the streets are named for the victims of a "similar" miscarriage of justice in the 18th century. But apart from all this emotional and symbolic appeal the essence of their spin is that Stewart simply wanted to keep Rahman's name before the public; that she feared should he fade from the media consciousness he would be stuffed down a "memory hole." This is a preposterous interpretation, for a number of reasons.

First, it would seem a long shot that the public in the US would ever develop, from media exposure, significant sympathy for the Sheik and his predicament to put pressure on the judiciary in the US. That cannot have played any part in her thoughts, or the thoughts and actions of her confederates, unless they were simply crazy. Stewart is considered a rather shrewd lawyer, so it's unlikely that she's crazy in that particular sense. No, what she wanted Americans to be aware of was not the Sheik's predicament, but the fact that the predicament and fate of the hostages were contingent on that of the Sheik. To put it in the simplest terms, she wanted Americans to notice that there were guns pointed at the heads of these innocents and that the price for lowering those arms involved setting the Sheik (and others like Ramsey Youssef) free. The text of the exchange concerning their dismay at absence in the NYT piece about the Abu Sayyaf kidnappings of any mention of the Sheik, which I will not reproduce here, but which can be found on the Belmont Club, makes it clear that their concern was that the public was unaware that the fingers on the triggers of those guns were connected by a line of intent to the Sheik in his cell, and that his release would be theirs.

Now, there is one interpretation of this concern that could mitigate against the interpretation of their unwavering cold-heartedness. It is simply that she feared that the death of those innocents was a certainty unless the public were made aware of these "conditions." That would seem to make some sense. But interestingly it is not the case that Stewart and her team have presented, possibly because to do so she'd have to abandon the fiction that there was any moral legitimacy attaching to the Sheik, or to the Jihadist movement in general. In other words, to make a case for her own humanity she'd have to abandon the claim to theirs... which would betray the Left's entire strategic position. What is that, you ask?

The reason why this position makes sense to the Left is the subject for a later post, but suffice to say that, however much they may despise the barbaric acts of these zealots, they're able to suppress that revulsion because ultimately, when the time comes, they believe the Jihadists can be controlled. It's not so much that they're on the side of the Jihadists as that they believe the Jihadists are strategically (and perhaps unwittingly) on theirs.

(Cross-posted by Demosophist to Demosophia and The Jawa Report)

Launched by Demosophist at February 11, 2005 06:13 PM

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