When Peter Handke was awarded the 2019 Nobel Prize for literature, intellectuals from the former Yugoslavia responded with revulsion. The Austrian writer had a long record of genocide denial, revisionism regarding the Yugoslav Wars, and sordid personal ties to the former Serbian strongman Slobodan Milošević. Yet Handke was only the latest luminary of the international far left to harbor affection for purportedly anti-imperialist dictators.
Noam Chomsky, Harold Pinter, Arundhati Roy, John Pilger, Tariq Ali, Edward S. Herman, Rania Khalek and Max Blumenthal: There is no shortage of prominent left-wing academics, journalists, artists and activists who have sought to twist the historical record concerning atrocities and the regimes that perpetrated them. Rather than treating these as outliers, we must come to grips with the causes and purpose of this ugly practice.
Left revisionism has included calling opponents of Milošević’s ultranationalist policies in the 1990s “jihadis,” and repeating this suggestion about all those who have opposed President Bashar al-Assad in the Syrian Civil War. Left revisionists have spread conspiracy theories about a “Nazi putsch” in Ukraine in 2014, and have floated similar claims about the democratic mobilization in Belarus today.
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