Monday, August 15, 2005

Why I Am No Longer A Radical

M. Junaid Alam writes:

After some careful consideration, I've decided that I am, from here on out, no longer a political radical. Now - hold on a minute before you begin to brandish your pitchforks and light your torches.

How did I come to this position? Not by the unremarkable route - the sell-out route. It's not because I've stopped believing in the causes, and it's not because the risks of taking them up are too high to bear, even though many Americans would brand me a "Communist" or a "terrorist" because they've been fed a steady diet of hyper-nationalism that blinds them to all but the skin color and supposed crimes of the enemy of the month.

What's convinced me to discard the robes of political radicalism is not the fear of defending what's right in a world where you're rewarded for doing wrong, but the fear of living in such a world at all. For to let the Right claim the very mantle of "mainstream" for themselves, as they have increasingly tended to do, to let them spin off basic values like social equality, human rights, religious tolerance, and peace as the byproducts of a bygone era of amoral "radical" hippies, would be a total catastrophe.

The simple fact of the matter is that the causes and beliefs we advocate are not "radical" in the commonly understood sense of the word, but rather, moderate, sensible, and fair. Conversely, it is the political mainstream that is antithetical to basic human values, serving up indigestible rationalizations for all kinds of cruelties inflicted upon people on a daily basis, fostering cynicism and frustration.

So the way I see it, if we are to be real radicals, we need stop acting like our agenda is, well, radical.
Lots of good stuff in this essay.