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Livingstone, Deadweight

Another argument against the London mayoral candidate, from the left

Marc Tracy
May 03, 2012
Ken Livingstone after voting today.(Justin Tallis/AFP/GettyImages)
Ken Livingstone after voting today.(Justin Tallis/AFP/GettyImages)

Earlier this week, Slate’s Dave Weigel wrote about the “Even the [liberal/conservative]” phenomenon (originally: “Even the liberal New Republic“), in which an opinion is given extra credibility by its being advocated by someone or something that would be expected to endorse its antithesis. A conservative supports President Obama; a liberal supports a flat tax. Etc.

James Kirchick’s brief against Labour’s London mayoral candidate, Ken Livingstone, has all you could possibly need to understand why this charismatic anti-Semite (and Chávez-coddler, and terrorist-sympathizer) should not be voted for today—even if you’re otherwise a Labour supporter who might wish that your party, currently in the opposition, would receive the boost of winning back the mayoralty of Britain’s capital city.

It’s still worth noting that even the left-wing, Labour-supporting, formerly-Livingstone-loving Jewish Londoner D.D. Guttenplan has unequivocally endorsed not voting for Livingstone:

Whether Livingstone has truly made the transit from anti-Zionism to anti-Semitism, or has simply calculated that any perceived deference to Jewish opinion would count against him among London’s far more numerous Muslim voters, I can’t say. But neither can I ignore my own sense that he seems willing to dismiss and diminish Jewish concerns in a way that doesn’t seem true for other minority groups. …

the argument that a progressive stand on social issues excuses callousness toward Jewish pain is no better than the claim, frequently heard among American and British conservatives, that support for Israel trumps any concern for social justice at home.

Jews in Britain have turned the other cheek far too long. If Livingstone’s defeat is the price to be paid for self-respect, so be it.

It looks like both Kirchick and Guttenplan will get their wishes.

Marc Tracy is a staff writer at The New Republic, and was previously a staff writer at Tablet. He tweets @marcatracy.