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Jewish World Review Feb. 19, 2002/ 7 Adar, 5762

Don Feder

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Turner is a window on liberal soul -- IT'S easy to dismiss media mogul Ted Turner as a loudmouth boor. But weird as his spontaneous comments often are, they reflect liberalism's favorite obsessions and the movement's near total disconnect from reality.

Speaking at Brown University last Monday, Turner unburdened himself on Sept. 11 and related subjects.

As reported in The Providence Journal, the AOL Time-Warner vice president said the suicide bombers were "brave men" (if "a little nuts"), President George Bush is "an oil man" and "another Julius Caesar," and "The reason that the World Trade Center got hit is because there are a lot of people living in abject poverty out there who don't have any hope for a better life."

Jane Fonda's ex suffers from what might be called political Tourette's syndrome. His brain lacks a self-censoring mechanism. More often than not, what's on his mind is what comes out of his mouth.

On Ash Wednesday last year, he ridiculed Catholics with ashes on their forehead in the CNN newsroom. ("What are you? A bunch of Jesus freaks?") In 1997, he observed that the suicide of 39 members of the Heaven's Gate cult was "a good way to get rid of a few nuts."

Turner has called Christianity "a religion for losers," said abortion is the only alternative to environmental disaster, praised Fidel Castro and told Polish jokes at the pope's expense.

In a way, Turner's candor is refreshing. Prominent liberals usually refrain from voicing such views, for fear of destroying their credibility. The man dubbed the Mouth from the South is a window on liberalism's soul.

Turner is one of a small number of celebrity lefties who tell us what they're really thinking.

After the World Trade Center attack, "Politically Incorrect" host Bill Maher told his audience, "We (Americans) have been the cowards," in responding to past terrorist incidents by "lobbing cruise missiles from 20,000 feet."

Writing in the Sept. 24 New Yorker, novelist Susan Sontag fumed, "Where is the acknowledgment that this was not a 'cowardly' attack on 'liberty' or 'humanity' or 'the free world', but an attack on the world's self-proclaimed superpower, undertaken as a consequence of specific American alliances and actions." In other words -- we had it coming.

Turner's take on the cause of 9-11 ("abject poverty," "no hope for a better life") is classic liberal economic determinism. Poverty breeds crime. Palestinian suicide bombers blow up women and children because they've been deprived of a homeland. In their suffering, the dispossessed pick up weapons and start revolutions.

In reality, the 20th century's greatest political thugs, who terrorized entire nations, came mostly from the middle class. Hitler was the pampered son of a minor civil servant. Lenin and Stalin did not rise from the peasantry or proletariat. Islamic fundamentalism tends to have its greatest mass appeal among college graduates.

Osama bin Laden came from one of Saudi Arabia's wealthiest families. His right hand man, Dr. Ayman al-Zawahiri, is an Egyptian pediatrician. Even in Egypt, physicians do not go to bed hungry. It's ideology, not poverty, that causes political violence.

The left has a neo-Marxist fixation on root causes. Because liberals are determinists who deny free will and the existence of evil, everything is reduced to economics.

But radical Islam isn't based on economic theories, but on beliefs about man's nature. Bin Laden couldn't care less which economic system is the most efficient supplier of human needs. He believes the West (capitalism and democracy) is the enemy because it corrupts the soul.

Turner, who understands none of this, exemplifies yet another characteristic of the Lear Jet left -- its stunning hypocrisy. The father of five decries overpopulation and calls on families to have no more than two children.

In the question and answer period of his Brown University speech, a student from Montana asked if he didn't feel morally obligated to share his 1.3 million acre holdings in the state with the public. Suddenly, the radical was transformed into Archie Bunker. "You buy it, and you can share it," the billionaire bellowed. "We believe in private property in this country." Attaboy, Ted! The revolution stops at the gates of your estate.

JWR contributing columnist Don Feder's latest books are Who is afraid of the Religious Right? ($15.95) and A Jewish conservative looks at pagan America ($9.95). To receive an autographed copy, send a check or money order to: Don Feder, The Boston Herald, 1 Herald Sq., Boston, Mass. 02106. Doing so will help fund JWR, if so noted. He is also available as a guest speaker. To comment on this column please click here.

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© 2002, Creators Syndicate