Sting’s Uzbekistan sellout

Our recent coverage of Nicki Minaj‘s nauseating performance for Angola’s thug-in-chief reminded us that there are other celebrities who belong to the same club but to whom we hadn’t yet accorded the attention we gave to Minaj.

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Sting

Take Sting, aka Gordon Matthew Thomas Sumner CBE. The British musician and songwriter, formerly of The Police, has won 16 Grammys, a Golden Globe, an Emmy, three Oscar nominations for Best Song, and is said to be worth several hundred million dollars. For many years, moreover, he’s presented himself as a world-class champion of humanitarian causes, associated himself with groups like Amnesty International, and made himself the face of such high-profile environmental causes as saving the Brazilian rain forests.

Nonetheless, in October 2009 he decided he couldn’t do without an additional million or two dollars. That’s the sum he accepted to perform in a show arranged by Gulnara Karimova, the daughter of Islam Karimov, the monster who runs Uzbekistan. If you don’t know about Karimov, here’s a fun fact, courtesy of Fox News: Karimov “burst upon the international scene in 2005 when his troops opened fire on protesters in the city of Andijan,” killing up to 5000 people, largely women and children.  

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Sting with Gulnara Karimova

Sting managed to keep his Uzbek deal from blowing up in the British media – but only for a few months. When Marina Hyde reported on it in the Guardian the following February – noting that Karimov had been accused of “boiling his enemies, slaughtering his poverty-stricken people when they protest, and conscripting armies of children for slave labour” – Sting felt obliged to issue a statement. Acknowledging that he’d given the concert, he added that “I believe [it was] sponsored by Unicef.” The Guardian checked out this claim; Unicef, it turned out, had had no connection whatsoever with the event.

Sting went on to say that, while “well aware of the Uzbek president’s appalling reputation in the field of human rights as well as the environment,” he’d chosen to accept Karimova’s invitation because “I have come to believe that cultural boycotts are not only pointless gestures, they are counter-productive, where proscribed states are further robbed of the open commerce of ideas and art and as a result become even more closed, paranoid and insular.” Ka-ching! 

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Islam Karimov

The Guardian had a good answer to Sting’s apologia: “Even if you accept Sting’s live performances as ‘ideas and art,’ you can’t really help but question this notion of ‘open commerce,’ considering the tickets for his concert cost more than 45 times the average monthly salary in Uzbekistan.” Craig Murray, former U.K. Ambassador to Uzbekistan, called Sting’s response “transparent bollocks,” adding:

He did not take a guitar and jam around the parks of Tashkent. He got paid over a million pounds to play an event specifically designed to glorify a barbarous regime. Is the man completely mad?…I agree with him that cultural isolation does not help. I am often asked about the morality of going to Uzbekistan, and I always answer – go, mix with ordinary people, tell them about other ways of life, avoid state owned establishments and official tours. What Sting did was the opposite. To invoke Unicef as a cover, s[i]t next to a woman who has made hundreds of millions from state forced child labour in the cotton fields, is pretty sick.

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Karimov with Putin

Writing in the New Yorker, Amy Davidson asked: “Does Sting really think that the President of Uzbekistan doesn’t care what or who his daughter spends two million dollars on?” Karimova, Davidson pointed out, is “not just some apolitical fashionista but is also a member of the government” and her father’s presumed successor, and thus “deeply, deeply implicated” in his evildoing. 

Musician Sting performs on the opening night of his Symphonicity Tour, which features the Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra conducted by Steven Mercurio, in Vancouver, British Columbia June 2, 2010. REUTERS/Andy Clark (CANADA - Tags: ENTERTAINMENT) FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS

In Mother Jones, Adam Weinstein weighed in: “I’m not going to pretend pop-music fame is easy, but here’s a handy maxim for future crooners to keep in mind: Don’t do private concerts for tyrannical rulers who reportedly boil people alive. Just sayin’.” Weinstein also pointed out that, Karimov’s brutality aside, Gulnara Karimova is “a piece of work in her own right,” who “reportedly runs several state-owned business concerns cobbled together from Western assets seized in Uzbekistan, which are occasionally backed by shadowy military contractors who might be involved in assassinations. She’s also listed as one of the 10 richest women in Switzerland. Let that sink in for a minute.”

Does it even take a minute? Clearly, Sting knew exactly what he was getting into – and didn’t care, not for a second.  

Jan Myrdal, Sweden’s “man without shame”

Jan Myrdal is one of Scandinavia’s top useful stooges. As we saw yesterday, he ardently eulogized Pol Pot and Enver Hoxha. But that’s just the beginning.

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Jan Myrdal

Take China. Myrdal visited it several times, returning repeatedly to the same village, about which he wrote the 1963 book Report from a Chinese Village. He celebrated the Cultural Revolution, which took over 1.5 million lives and destroyed tens of millions of others; in his 1984 book Return to a Chinese Village he lamented the fact that the Cultural Revolution was over. In 1989, he cheered the Chinese government’s merciless crushing of the protests in Tienanmen Square.

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Ayatollah Khomeini

And let’s not forget Iran. Myrdal, who visited the country after its Islamic Revolution as a guest of the Ayatollah Khomeini, pronounced his “respect” for that revolution and endorsed the ayatollah’s fatwa against Salman Rushdie, describing it as a means by which “the poor and downtrodden Muslim immigrant masses of Europe” could engage in a “conscious ideological struggle for their human dignity.”

Then there’s the Palestinians. In a 2006 interview with a Hezbollah magazine – yes, a Hezbollah magazine – Myrdal depicted Hezbollah’s members as victims of U.S. imperialism and suggesting that his own country, Sweden, might easily become a target of American aggression owing to its valuable uranium deposits. He praised Hezbollah as “valiant” and said its role was “mainly anti-imperialist.” He dismissed Western human-rights groups operating in places like India or the former Soviet Union as tools of neo-colonialism, accused the U.S. of “trying to colonise Iraq,” and spoke of “the heroic Korean war against U.S. aggression.”

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Myrdal in India, 2010

Lecturing in India in 2010, he vented his rage over American military activities in Afghanistan – and over his own country’s participation in those activities: “My anger is so strong that I can feel the taste of blood in my mouth when I see TV pictures of US marines, Swedish mercenaries or Nato soldiers in Afghanistan. And my deepest personal feeling then is that the only good foreign soldier on Afghan soil is a dead one.” The next day two Swedish soldiers were killed on patrol in Afghanistan. 

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Jackie Jakubowski

In a 2007 Expressen article headlined “The Man without Shame,” Jackie Jakubowski asked a very good question: how is it that a man with such a track record of “intellectual and moral failures” could “continue to occupy a prominent place in the Swedish debate”? The reason is that in Sweden you can’t be too far to the left. While even the most rational critics of mass Islamic immigration, say, are demonized in – and frozen out of – the mainstream media and considered persona non grata by all members of respectable society, a man like Myrdal is always welcome on TV and in the major newspapers; never mind that, as Jakubowski puts it, he “has praised virtually every bloody dictatorship during the last 50 years, mocked the victims of oppressive regimes, defended Stalin’s terror, and rationalized Nazi holocaust deniers.

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Bengt Goransson

When Myrdal turned 60 in 1987, Sweden’s then Minister of Culture, Bengt Goransson, “called to congratulate him.” On his 80th birthday, Swedish journalists lined up to hail him. Sofia Ström called him an “intellectual giant”; Andres Lokko described his “best cultural and socially critical texts” as “so terribly modern, so necessary,” and said “Myrdal is so deeply inspiring because he never stopped shouting, screaming, and spreading what he believes in.”

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Åsa Linderborg

And Åsa Linderborg, writing in Aftonbladet, praised “his penetrating analysis” of liberalism and his “sympathetic and critical solidarity with oppressed people,” called him “one of the most knowledgeable and effective critics of imperialism,” and sums up by saying that the “important thing is not whether Jan Myrdal has been right or wrong on certain issues, but what questions he has created interest around.”

Really? Would any leading Swedish daily run an essay containing such inane exculpatory statements about an apologist for, say, Hitler or Franco? Of course not. “It’s right to rebel!” concluded Linderborg. But the plain fact is that, within the context of Swedish culture, Myrdal isn’t a rebel at all. Ideologically, he’s on essentially the same side as the nation’s entire cultural establishment; he’s just somewhat further out on the political spectrum than most of them are (which is just fine, for it makes it possible for them to represent themselves as moderate).

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Torgny Segerstedt

He’s certainly not a rebel in the way that the Gothenburg newspaper editor Torgny Segerstadt was back in the 1930s and 40s, when he penned critical editorials about the Nazis that his upper-crust friends feared would lead Sweden into war. No, Myrdal only says harsh things about the U.S. and Israel, which, as everyone knows, won’t lead to war with anybody. On the contrary, the members of today’s Swedish cultural elite recognize that, at bottom, Myrdal’s oeuvre is one big tour de force of virtue signaling. And virtue signaling is, after all, their common language.

Jan Myrdal, Communist clown prince of the Swedish elite

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Jan Myrdal

Over the last couple of days we’ve been surveying some of the biggest Communists on the Swedish literary scene. We’re talking names like Jan Guillou, Stieg Larsson, and Henning Mankel.

One might get the impression that these people all write crime fiction. Not true. Jan Myrdal (b. 1927), who’s been called “Sweden`s most rebellious writer” and who during the 1970s was one of its most influential intellectuals, is famous, rather, for his novels, memoirs, and travel writings.

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Gunnar Myrdal

His parents were both immensely famous, especially in their homeland. Gunnar Myrdal, an economist and politician who served as Sweden’s Minister of Trade, taught economics at the University of Stockholm, and wrote a book, An American Dilemma:  The Negro Problem and Modern Democracy, that influenced the landmark 1954 U.S. Supreme Court decision in Brown vs. Board of Education. In 1974 he shared the Nobel Memorial Prize for Economics with Friedrich Hayek.

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Alva Myrdal

Alva Myrdal, a sociologist and politician who played a major role in shaping the Swedish welfare state, served as a Member of Parliament, held a high-ranking position in UNESCO, was Sweden’s Ambassador to India, Burma, Nepal, and Sri Lanka, and, with Mexican diplomat Alfonso Garcia Robles, won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1982. By that point, as Jay Nordlinger wrote in his history of the Nobel Peace Prize, Alva was “the doyenne of Scandinavian social democracy, which is practically to say, of Scandinavian political culture.” Both Myrdals were big on moral equivalency – routinely equating the U.S. and USSR and priding both themselves and their nation on showing no favoritism toward either side in the Cold War. 

But social democracy wasn’t good enough for Jan Myrdal. Deciding at age 15 that he was a Communist, he left school, broke off communications with his family, and “became a drifter.” At first a member of the Swedish Communist Party, he later left it and joined a Maoist group.

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Robert Faurisson

Throughout his career, his specialty has been standing up for mass violence in the name of totalitarian Marxism. He’s defended the millions of murders committed by Stalin and Mao and gone to bat for a Nazi genocide denier, Robert Faurisson, saying that “much of what Professor Faurisson writes is probably true.” For his own part, he’s vigorously denied the Cambodian holocaust. In 1978 he was part of a group from the Swedish Cambodian Friendship Association that visited Cambodia at Pol Pot’s invitation. They took a two-week Potemkin-village tour and dined with Pol Pot himself. “We met only the well-fed people,” a colleague who was also on that visit later said. “There were no soldiers, no prisons, and certainly no torture on display. There were, however, cities with no people.”

Pol Pot i den thailandske jungle. (Udateret arkivfoto).
Pol Pot

Myrdal was impressed, though, and returned to Sweden full of acclaim for Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge. Even after it became clear that his host had committed one of the greatest genocides in human history, and other Western intellectuals who’d praised Pol Pot expressed the deepest remorse for having done so, Myrdal refused to back off from his words of praise – or to acknowledge the reality of the Cambodian genocide. Writing in 2006 in Aftonbladet, one of Sweden’s largest papers, he denied the genocide; appearing in 2012 on SVT, the government TV channel, he denied it again.

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Enver Hoxha

He was also a great fan of Albania at a time when it was a totalitarian autocracy and more hermetically sealed than any other nation on the planet, excepting North Korea. In 1970, Myrdal and his then wife, Gun Kessle, wrote Albania Defiant, a love letter to the country’s dictator, Enver Hoxha, and his Labor Party. Albania, they wrote, is an “eye-opener about a possible alternative” to Western democracy,” a nation marked by “social revolution, economic progress and general enlightenment.” When an Albanian priest spoke on TV about Hoxka’s execution of his country’s intelligentsia, Myrdal called him a liar and recalled his grandfather’s comment that “we should hang the last priest with the intestines of the last capitalist.”

More tomorrow.

 

Jan Guillou, Swedish literary idol…and KGB agent

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Jan Guillou

Yesterday we met a few Swedish enemies of capitalism who struck it rich with crime fiction. Here’s another. Jan Guillou (b. 1944) is one of Sweden’s most famous writers. “He is the Grand Old Man of Swedish journalism,” wrote Ilya Meyer in 2010, “and has for decades set the tone for journalism in this country.”

Jan_Guillou,_2011Meaning what? Meaning that Guillou made it the norm in Sweden for supposedly objective reporters to view everything through a red prism, and to twist, suppress, or invent facts to serve ideology. In the 1960s and 70s Guillou was a Maoist, belonged to the Swedish Communist Party, and accepted money from the USSR for providing the KGB with clandestine reports on his country’s politics. You might have expected that when the newspaper Expressen exposed this decades-old secret in 2009, the government would have arrested Guillou for treason. No: what happened was that the government’s press ombudsman accused the newspaper’s editors of behaving irresponsibly and damaging Guillou’s reputation.

guillou3There’s more. Against mountains of evidence to the contrary, he maintains that Western anti-Semitism is a thing of the past and that anyone who draws attention to the rise of Jew-hatred in Sweden is carrying water for Israel – a nation of which he’s a consistent and zealous critic, often to the point of being plainly anti-Semitic himself. According to Guillou, Western prejudice against Islam is the real problem. He’s a supporter of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, a Marxist group, and in 1977 he co-wrote a book praising Iraq’s Baath Party regime and predicting that by the year 2000 Iraqis would be richer than Western Europeans.

guill858jeanettel_1189060145He’s even defended Al Qaeda. In 2001, he made headlines by walking out of a book fair during a three-minute silence for the victims of 9/11; shortly afterwards, he published an explanatory op-ed calling the U.S. “the great mass murderer of our time.” Widespread claims to the contrary, he insisted that the 9/11 attacks had not been aimed at the West generally but only at evil capitalist America, which had done a great deal to deserve them. (Later terrorist attacks in Madrid, London, Paris, Istanbul, etc., etc., haven’t led him to admit his error.)

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Max Manus

A couple of days ago, we mentioned Max Manus, the Norwegian Resistance hero who repeatedly risked his life carrying out acts of sabotage against the Nazis. Last year, Guillou published a World War II spy novel, Blue Star, on the last page of which he says that “no Norwegian has caused the deaths of as many of his countrymen as Max Manus.” Guillou also accuses Manus of having killed Karl Alfred Marthinsen, head of the Norwegian state police. In December, Manus’s daughter, Mette Manus, went public with her rage over this abuse of her father’s name, calling the murder accusation a “direct lie.” Of course, from Guillou’s own point of view, his slur on Manus makes perfect sense. The very idea of Norwegian war heroes – of men risking their lives for freedom – is offensive to him, as is freedom itself. There can be no idols other than Marx, Lenin, Stalin, Mao, and company; the rest, especially those, like Manus, who risked their lives to overcome everything that totalitarian monsters like these stood for, must, in the view of a Jan Guillou, be torn down without remorse. 

Sweden’s Communist crime writers

Some of Sweden’s most prominent useful stooges have been crime novelists.

Swedish crimer writers Maj Sjowall and Per Wahloo. ... Maj Sjowall and Per Wahloo. ... 04-04-2001 ... Stockholm ... Sverige ... Photo credit should read: SCANPIX/Unique Reference No. 6281139 ...
Maj Sjowall and Per Wahloo

Maj Sjöwall (b. 1935) and her partner Per Wahlöö (1926-75), both Communists, invented the Swedish police procedural in the 1960s as a means of promoting their politics. As Wahlöö put it, he and Sjöwall sought to “rip open the belly of an ideologically impoverished society.” Why do this via crime fiction?  Because, Sjöwall has said, “people read more mysteries than they do political pamphlets.”

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Bruce Dern and Walter Matthau in the 1973 film The Laughing Policeman, based on the novel by Sjöwall and Wahlöö

In their series of ten novels featuring detective Martin Beck, the two writers approached their propaganda effort in a very canny way: to quote Danish writer Niels Vestergaard, they used their first three volumes to “bait…the general crime reader”; in the next three, they gradually dialed up the social critique; in the last four, they pulled out all the stops, serving up full-fledged “Communist indoctrination.” Great admirers of the Soviet bloc, Sjöwall and Wahlöö are universally acknowledged today as the precursors of such Swedish crime writers as Jan Guillou, Stieg Larsson, and Henning Mankell – all of whom have also used their fiction to critique democratic capitalism and celebrate Communism.

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Henning Mankell in the small town of Visby, Sweden, where his Wallander novels are set

When Henning Mankell died in October 2015, aged 67, Sweden lost one of its most famous writers – and one of its most useful stooges. In the 1970s, Mankell – who is most famous for his series of internationally bestselling thrillers about a police officer named Kurt Wallander – was active in a Maoist party in Norway. He’s expressed sympathy for Palestinian suicide bombers. In 2010 he took part in the Freedom Flotilla, which sought to break the Israeli embargo of the Gaza strip.

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Stieg Larsson

Hardly any author of our time has been as successful as Stieg Larsson (1954-2004), whose posthumously published crime novels, beginning with The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, have sold tens of millions of copies. He was also, in the words of Christopher Hitchens, an “old-shoe Communist.” He belonged to the Kommunistiska Arbetareförbundet (Communist Workers’ League) and edited a Trotskyisk periodical. In 1977 he went to Eritrea to teach female Communist guerrillas how to use mortars. 

Larsson has been lavishly praised as a feminist, but British columnist Nick Cohen has noted that while Larsson “wrote with real anger about the oppression of women with white skins,” he denounced as racist those who

tried to do the same about the oppression of women with brown skins….Believe that western legal systems, for all their faults, were preferable to forced marriages, religious courts where the testimony of a woman is worth half that of a man and the stoning to death of adulterous women and you were a “rightwing extremist,” carrying on the fascist tradition.

Then there’s Jan Guillou. Tune in tomorrow. 

Monuments to shame: Sweden’s useful stooges

There’s no useful stooge like a Swedish useful stooge.

That isn’t an old saying, but perhaps it should be.

During World War II, the Danes, from the king on down, courageously showed their contempt for the Nazi occupiers. When orders came down to ship Danish Jews to camps, Danish Christians snapped into action, rescuing almost every last one of them overnight and ferrying them under the Nazis’ noses to safety in neutral Sweden.

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Poster for The Heroes of Telemark

The Norwegian Resistance did valiant work, too, most famously destroying a heavy-water plant that could have been useful in the Nazi effort to produce nuclear weapons. The story of this escapade was told in the 1965 Burt Lancaster movie Heroes of Telemark and, again, in a recent (and first-rate) miniseries, The Heavy Water Wars.  A terrific 2008 movie, Max Manus, focused on the eponymous hero of the Norwegian Resistance, a masterly saboteur, but also featured actors playing several other illustrious Resistance members.

Meanwhile, Sweden was shipping iron ore to Germany to be used in the production of Nazi weapons.

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Torgny Segerstedt

Yes, there was a Swedish Resistance. His name was Torgny Segerstedt. He was the editor-in-chief of Göteborgs Handels- och Sjöfartstidning, a financial daily in Gothenberg, and in his editorials was a fierce critic of Hitler.

Admittedly, it’s a slight exaggeration to suggest that Segerstedt was the only Swedish anti-Nazi. Behind the scenes, some high-profile Swedes made modest efforts to help the Allies and to persuade the Nazis to be a tad less beastly to the Jews. But to a remarkable extent, Segerstedt was a lone warrior. You might expect that someone else in the Swedish news media would’ve dared to slam Hitler. But nobody did – at least nowhere near as much as Segerstedt did.

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Jesper Christensen as Segerstedt

A film about Segerstedt, The Last Sentence, directed by Jan Troell, was released in 2012. It did a splendid job of portraying the pusillanimity of the Swedish cultural elite in the years leading up to the war, and then during the war itself. At an elegant dinner party soon after Hitler’s installation as German chancellor, Segerstedt (played by Jesper Christensen) rails ardently and eloquently against the outrages of Nazism – and his friend react as if he’d let loose a loud, roaring belch. Why, they’re clearly wondering, does he insist on ruining their pleasant evening with such matters? He’s a moral crusader in a community of cowards.

Not long after, he receives a stern letter from Goebbels demanding that he cease and desist. He frames it. Swedish officials, up to and eventually including the prime minister, make various threats in an attempt to silence him. Finally he’s summoned to the Royal Palace, where the king himself, Gustav V (Jan Sitelius), tells him angrily that if Sweden ends up being dragged into a war with Germany, it’ll be Segerstedt’s fault.

Gustav V actually did say that to Segerstedt, by the way. Their meeting took place in 1940. The episode is hardly surprising to anyone familiar with Gustav’s record. He was friendly with Hitler and other Nazis, and in November 1941 threatened to abdicate if his government refused to grant a Wehrmacht division safe passage through Sweden from Norway to Finland.   

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King Gustav V (right), Hermann Goering (middle), and Prince Gustav Adolf (left), February 1939

In 1942, Segerstedt implicitly criticized his own monarch by praising Norway’s King Haakon. He too had threatened to abdicate, but for opposite reasons. When the Germans invaded Norway and ordered Haakon to appoint their puppet Vidkun Quisling as prime minister, Haakon met with his cabinet, presenting them with the order and telling them that he’d abide by their decision, whatever it was – but that if they chose to cave to the Germans he would step down from his throne, because he could not, in good conscience, inflict Quisling on his people. The cabinet unanimously supported him, and king and cabinet both escaped to Britain, where they formed a government-in-exile.

Here’s what Segerstedt wrote about Haakon: “King Haakon didn’t falter when it counted. His burden was heavy. He became great by bearing it….The Norwegian people and the king are one. Together they have erected the proudest monument known to the history of the Nordic region.”

Indeed. By contrast, many Swedes, like Gustav V, have erected monuments to shame. We’ll start meeting some of these Swedish stooges tomorrow.

Bill Walton: Dumb as Dennis Rodman?

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Bill Walton, who’s very good at throwing a ball in a hoop

Yesterday we reported on NBA star turned sports broadcaster Bill Walton, who while covering a recent game in China sang the praises not only of the country and the people but of its political system. Enthusiastically, he contrasted American materialism with the lack thereof that (he claimed) is an attribute of the Chinese people. As we noted, Walton went on for quite a while in this vein without ever acknowledging that the country he was eulogizing is a Communist dictatorship where the news media, property rights, Internet access, and much else are severely restricted by the state.

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Liu Xiaobo

And that’s just the beginning of a long list of distasteful facts about China that Walton avoided mentioning. One of them is that the country imprisons its human-rights activists. One of them, Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo, has been behind bars for eleven years, while his wife is under house arrest for no other crime, apparently, than being married to him. China leads the world, moreover, in executions, the number of which has declined during the past decade from about 10,000 a year to a shade under 4,000 today. A giant image of Mao Zedong, the greatest mass murderer in human history, still dominates Beijing’s Tiananmen Square. 

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Mao overlooking Tiananmen Square

When SBNation, a major sports news site, posted an article about Walton’s praise for China, complete with video clips, a couple of readers had pertinent comments to make. “I like Bill,” wrote one of them, “but this guy must have been paid by the tourist bureau of China! I mean, he talks about China as though it is an up and coming paradise. It’s a trash heap! 900 million poverty-stricken and governed by a corrupt autocratic regime. What a joke.” After this and another reader comment critical of Walton were posted, the comments were closed for that page.

On December 1, Sirius XM radio host Howard Stern spent several minutes playing excerpts of Walton’s acclaim for China and offering his own commentary (from which we’ve silently omitted a few, but not all, obscenities).

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Howard Stern

I’ve talked to actual people in a nail salon who used to live in China,” said Stern. “And they’d rather work in a nail salon [in New York] for absolutely zero money” than in China. “China’s like the worst place you could be a worker!” Stern went on. “Because it’s Communism, and unless you’re in the government, in the hierarchy, you get shit on. That’s how come they’ve got a strong economy – because they shit on their people….So anyway, Bill Walton goes over…and Bill Walton obviously is being shown the best parts of China….He’s carrying on about how great China is. Well, of course it’s great for you! They’re working you, dude! They’re not showing you the sweatshops!” Excellently, if a tad crudely, put.

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Basketball diplomat Dennis Rodman

Stern compared Walton to Tokyo Rose, who notoriously broadcast Japanese propaganda to Allied troops during World War II. Stern’s sidekick, Robin Quivers, had another comparison. “It just sort of reminds me,” she said, “of the other basketball diplomat, Dennis Rodman.”

Indeed. The notorious Rodman, with his staggering and (it seems) stubbornly willful ignorance about the North Korean regime, may seem uniquely stupid – the useful idiot par excellence. But Walton, on the evidence of his fatuous, painfully embarrassing panegyrics about China, sure isn’t far behind.