The true tragedy of Alex Cockburn's passing... that it happened before he was repudiated by the American left. Here is this icon of principled journalism (please note sarcasm, irony-challenged readers) cheering the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in the Village Voice, Jan. 21, 1980:

We all have to go one day, but pray God let it not be over Afghanistan. An unspeakable country filled with unspeakable people, sheepshaggers and smugglers... [I]f ever a country deserved rape it's Afghanistan. Nothing but mountains filled with barbarous ethnics with views as medieval as their muskets, and unspeakably cruel too... [Preserved for posterity in the book The Left at War by Michael Bérubé]

If this rhetoric had issued from some neocon in support of the US invasion of Afghanistan 21 years later, we'd all be up in arms about it. But Cockburn went on the have 30 years of esteem on the "left." (And, most ironically, won applause from his sycophant legions for cheering on reactionary jihadis as "resistance fighters" when they turned their guns on US soldiers!) Once again: the American left has richly earned its own marginalization.

Blogger Bob from Brockley a couple of years back had an in-depth look at the historical background to Cockburn's reactionary politics and contempt for the truth, going all the way back to his father's involvement in the Spanish Civil War, which we also mentioned here.

See our last posts on the idiot left and the reactionary politics of Alexander Cockburn.

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You have omitted the words "I yield to none in my sympathy to those prostrate beneath the Russian jackboot, but", which is a crime. The passage, though idiotically phrased, was by the way correctly foreseeing the Taliban; they are the kind of people he was talking about.

Cockburn indeed

The "Russian jackboot" line was empty lip service in light of the "deserved rape" line. And the Mujahedeen that the US was backing in the '80s were only marginally better (or less bad) than the Taliban. But Cockburn was disparaging a people, not a political grouping. If you don't see it, it is because you don't want to. And I'll point out again that once the US was the occupying power in Afghanistan and Iraq, then all of a sudden the Islamist extremoids became the good guys in his book. This is the very essence of the word "reactionary." Not thinking, but merely reacting. The mere mirror image of what he opposed.