All week long, Michael Bérubé has been running a series of responses to old criticisms fired from his left (here, here, here, and here, with more to come). This is a very useful exercise, particularly given continual conflation by the right of academic liberals and progressives with the absolute worst in left-wing extremism. Although it should be obvious that there are variations and gradations of opinion on the left, just as there are on the right, for some reason critics find it much easier to tar those on the left with the opinions of their resident lunies than those on the right, so I've been pleased to see Michael's criticisms, which I think are pretty much totally on point.
Unfortunately, it seems to be a curse of the academic left that we feel compelled to embrace morons like Ward Churchill and Daniel Lazare. It may be that the liberal desire to tolerate a variety of points of view means that we lack the filters to tell the difference between a principled and responsible critic of U.S. Policy and someone like Churchill. Of course, on the right, they have the same problem, and as a result whenever the terrorist apologists are given a forum, it becomes further ammunition that the right uses to smear and distort the whole of the left, and the academic left in particular. In other words, we fuel the fires of our own sacrificial bonfire whenever we treat these guys like they're credible.
Like Michael, I reject the idea that if you're in for a penny, you're in for a pound. I don't need to prove my left-wing credentials by contributing to the Saddam Hussein defense fund, supporting ANSWER, or finding nice things to say about despotic and totalitarian regimes. Left-solidarity doesn't mean I have to support everyone who calls himself a lefty. Like Hannah Arendt, I can see the place where the far left shades off into identity with the far right, and left-wing support for Hezbollah or Slobodan Milosevic easily falls into that category.
The academic left would be much more successful at pushing back stupidity like ABOR if it didn't spend so much of his time making his point for him.