Moral failure

Sky News just showed the protestors in Trafalgar Square pulling down a mock statue of George Bush before leaping on it and hitting it with shoes.

Norman Geras anticipated this stunt on his blog with comments including these:

The revelatory symptom is the planned and much-publicized toppling of the mock statue of Bush, based, as everyone is all too well aware, on the toppling of the Saddam statue the day Baghdad fell. What else can the toppling planned for today mean but that the organizers of it are wanting to set up a parallel in people’s minds between Bush and Saddam, and hence to suggest a rough moral equivalence – an equivalence between a known butcher of his own people, who presided over decades of atrocities, and the President of a democracy who presided over the freeing of the Iraqi people from that man’s regime?


As I said yesterday about language (two posts down), symbolic meanings aren’t everything. But there’s very little that doesn’t have its cost. What will be the cost of these symbolic betrayals of the values of liberalism and democratic socialism? Hard to know. The best way for it to go would be for Bush and Blair to be vindicated by the eventual outcome in Iraq, so that the cost is born by the ‘peace party’ itself – with its confusions, its conduct, its slogans discredited. But a less happy outcome will be if the Coalition ultimately fails in Iraq, especially through a loss of will influenced by such protests, as many of the aforesaid party hope it will. Who knows what the cost will then be, to the democracies and peoples of the world, of these repeated demonstrations of the moral failure of a whole swathe of left-liberal opinion?