Chavismo: one man’s tragic story

We’ve reported a lot here about the nightmare that Venezuela has become as a result of socialism, but nothing makes the point more vividly than a personal story. The January 2020 issue of Reason features an article entitled “Socialism Killed My Father” by one José Cordeiro. Cordeiro – who is from Venezuela, but lives in the Bay Area and works in Silicon Valley – tells of being summoned home to Caracas by his mother because his father had experienced kidney failure.

A scene from a Caracas hospital

First problem: getting there. Major US airlines used to fly frequently to Caracas from many US airports. Now he had to fly to Miami and “purchase a ticket for an exorbitant sum from Santa Barbara Airlines, a Venezuelan carrier that has since gone bankrupt.”

Second problem: health care. “Even in the best of the few remaining private clinics,” writes Cordeiro, “there was a chronic lack of basic supplies and equipment.” And of medicines. In some Venezuelan hospitals, electricity and water were both being rationed.

Third problem: air travel again. Cordeiro and his mother decided that old dad would be better off getting treatment in a hospital in Spain, his home country. But the earliest available flight to Spain was three weeks away. Alas, it proved to be too long a wait: “Just two days before he was scheduled to leave his adopted country, my father died because of its disastrous policies.”

Hugo Chavez

When did that happen? In August of 2013 – more than six years ago, not long after the death of Hugo Chávez and the ascent to the presidency of Chavez’s chosen successor, Nicolas Maduro. In other words, it was long before everyday life had gotten so terrible in Venezuela that the mainstream media around the world had actually begun to report on it, and long before outspoken international fans of chavismo had finally been shamed into silence.

“Things have gotten much worse since then,” Cordeiro writes. But even six years ago they were bad enough that Cordeiro’s father died when, in a country with a halfway decent economy, he would have been saved. And this was a man of relative privilege – a man who could afford to be treated a private clinic.

Cordeiro explains that he’s written his article because he’s concerned about “[t]he growing number of people in the West who say they prefer socialism” because it would mean “universal health care.” He notes that when he was a child in the 1960s and 70s, Venezuela “was a land of opportunity, with relatively free markets, low inflation, little foreign debt, and something close to full employment. The local currency, the bolivar, was considered one of the strongest and most stable in the world.” During that period, “Venezuela became the wealthiest country in all of Latin America” with a GDP close to that of Texas. “Some pundits even foresaw the Venezuelan economy eclipsing the Lone Star State’s by the 1980s.”

Nicolas Maduro

Then came socialism. The foreign oil companies were nationalized. When Hugo Chávez came to power in 1998, socialism in Venezuela deteriorated into something closer to Communism. The result: an “economic crisis” worse than any that has taken place “in a peacetime country since World War II,” with an inflation rate that could reach “anywhere between 1 million and 10 million percent by the end of 2019” and citizens who earn “the lowest average minimum salary in the world.” The number of refugees fleeing this country with 32 million inhabitants may reach 5 million by the end of this year, and the annual number of murders has climbed to around 25,000.

Cordeiro recalls that when he was a kid, he and his friends calls Caracas, with no irony whatsoever, the “capital of Heaven.” But now, he laments, thanks to chavismo, it “has no gas, no light, no food, no water, no jobs, no money, no medicine, and no hope.” In sum: “Socialism kills in Venezuela, like everywhere else it has been implemented. It kills regardless of local flavoring or whatever branding the individual dictator employs. It is beyond reason that this ideology, which has led to the deaths of more people than any other during modern history, which was thoroughly and tragically discredited in the 20th century, is still racking up body counts in 2019. May we finally learn this tragic lesson.” Amen.

Who knew? Mayor Mike likes China

Mayor Mike

Michael Bloomberg is not only the former mayor of New York City and a recently announced candidate for president of the United States; he is also the richest person in New York State and the fourteenth richest person on earth. This wealth, however, has not prevented him from praising Communist China. To be sure, Bloomberg refuses to admit that China is, in fact, Communist. Well, yes, he acknowledged that it’s run by something called the Communist Party, but, in a September 27 interview with PBS, he was quick to add that the Party “wants to stay in power in China, and they listen to the public. When the public says I can’t breathe the air, Xi Jinping is not a dictator; he has to satisfy his constituents or he’s not going to survive.”

Beijing

Politically correct though PBS may be, Bloomberg’s interviewer, Margaret Hoover, was, to her credit, so taken aback by Bloomberg’s claim that she actually responded by saying, with obvious astonishment: “He’s not a dictator?” “No,” replied Bloomberg. “He has a constituency to answer to.” Hoover, admirably, wasn’t buying this fantasy: “He doesn’t have a vote. He doesn’t have a democracy. He’s not held accountable by voters.”

Bloomberg went on to defend China’s environmental policies. Note that we’re speaking of a country that is such a serious polluter that a large percentage of its people walk the streets wearing masks to prevent them from inhaling deadly particles.

Beijing at street level

Is Bloomberg dumb? Of course not. You don’t get to be a billionaire by being an idiot. The fact is that few Americans who are as rich as he is don’t have financial interests in China. While the billionaire currently in the White House feels he owes it to the American people to take on the hefty Chinese tariffs that have contributed to that country’s swift economic growth and to the destruction of much of the American manufacturing sector, other U.S. billionaires, such as Bloomberg, prefer not to rock the boat and thereby protect their own financial interests at the expense of American factory workers. As New York magazine noted when reporting on Bloomberg’s remarks earlier this month, “The billionaire has vast financial interests in China, and those interests have allegedly compromised his civic-minded endeavors in the past. In 2013, the New York Times reported that Bloomberg News had killed an investigation that had threatened to upset Chinese officials.

Xi Jinping

As Kim Hirsch asked on December 3 at the Victory Girls Blog, “What is it about billionaires when dollar signs mean more to them than oppression of other humans? Or even the security of their own nation?” Hirsch noted that China has not only “organized mass detentions of Uighur Muslims in the western Xinjiang province” but that the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), in November, “exposed China’s operating manuals that use data analysis to select whom they will detain. Not criminal activity. Just algorithms. As a result, people randomly disappear.” Hirsch quoted an Australian analyst who explained: “That’s how state terror works. Part of the fear that this instills is that you don’t know when you’re not OK.” But what should any of this matter to the fourteenth richest person on earth, who, as Hirsch reported, is “financing Chinese companies through US investor dollars he sends to the Chinese bond market.”

Trump

It’s funny how these things work. Bloomberg is 77 years old, and has $54 billion in assets. You might think that at this stage of his life, he’d figure he had enough money and, like Trump (who has lost billions in net worth since he became president), decide to give back. Well, Bloomberg seems to be the poster boy for the fact that some people, no matter how rich, just aren’t interested in giving back. Trump, whatever you think of him, is at least a regulation-cutter driven by a core belief in individual freedom: Bloomberg, famous for banning large sodas while mayor of New York, is a control freak, a man who craves power, and a man whose love of power and control are palpably driven by a desire to ensure that his bank balance keeps rising until he meets his maker – to whom, if that event actually takes place, he will have to explain his readiness to whitewash Chinese Communism, sell out American labor, and pick up more money than one man could ever spend in a hundred lifetimes.

Sentimentalizing savagery

Christopher Columbus

On this site we’ve tended to focus on the perverse attraction of some people in Western democracies, either today or within the last century or so, to the tyrants and tyrannies of their own era. But the sentimentalization of brutality has taken a variety of forms. Not so many decades ago, the legacy of Christopher Columbus was celebrated throughout the United States. Yes, historians recognized that some of the Europeans who settled in the New World did bad things. But the natives were no saints either. American students at all levels of the educational system were presented with a more or less balanced picture of their country’s past.

Then came books like Kirkpatrick Sale’s The Conquest of Paradise: Christopher Columbus and the Columbian Legacy (1990), which presented a totally new – and totally black-and-white – account of the encounter between Native Americans and Europeans. This new version of history depicted the pre-Columbian Americas as a veritable Garden of Eden. To listen to Sale and his ilk, you’d think that the primitive tribes that inhabited the Western hemisphere, from Alaska to Tierra del Fuego, lived in perfect peace with nature and with one another, and that life within these tribes was marked by a degree of social harmony that has yet to be achieved in our own time.

All over the Western world, educators picked up this romantic lie and ran with it. The same professors and intellectuals who idealized the likes of Stalin and Mao as a way of expressing their contempt for the United States and its democratic allies proved more than eager to idealize, as well, the Navajos and Aztecs, the Mayas and Incas, whose purportedly peaceable societies had been crushed by the leviathan that came sailing along in 1492 and thereafter in the form of the white man.

In fact, anyone acquainted with the actual history of pre-Columbian America knows that, just as the countries of Europe were constantly making war on one another, so were the tribes of the New World. And that’s just the start of it. Many of the social practices that characterized these tribes were so monstrous as to be beyond our imagining. One of them is child sacrifice, carried out on a regular basis and on a mass scale by a great many tribes. Recently, it was reported that archeologists in Peru had discovered what is “likely the world’s largest child sacrifice site” – or, at least, the largest to be uncovered so far. It contains the remains of some 250 children who, at the time of their ritual murders, which took place sometime in between the 13th and 15th centuries, were “between the ages of 4 and 14.” The children were part of the Chimu culture, and, like their unfortunate counterparts in other tribes, were sacrificed to honor their culture’s gods.

Tenochtitlan, where the Aztecs sacrificed their own

This find is horrifying in its scale, but hardly big news. Just last year, the bones of more than 140 sacrificed children, which were carbon-dated to around A.D. 1450, were found at another site in Peru. Other such finds have been made at sites in a number of countries in the Western Hemisphere. Child sacrifice has been proven to be a major part of the culture of the Aztecs, Incas, Mayans, and other tribes. Each had its own special twist on – and justification for – the atrocity. The Aztecs sacrificed their own in the belief that the gods would reward them with rain. (After the children were murdered, their parents ate their remains.) The Incas killed some children by means of strangulation and others by leaving them out in the freezing cold. The Mayans were especially fond of sacrificing infants. All this is fully established. Yet it hasn’t kept countless schoolteachers from depicting these pre-Columbian tribes as companies of saints.

A Romanian rediscovers Communism – at Columbia University

Columbia University

If the name of Columbia University has cropped up so often on this website, it’s because few American institutions of higher education are so crammed with tyranny-loving ideologues. It was Columbia, let’s remember, that invited then Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to address its students. Columbia economist Joseph Stiglitz has enriched himself by serving as a “consultant” to corrupt regimes such as the Kirchner thugocracy in Argentina – regimes that, in turn, he has then publicly praised as being on the up-and-up. (Can you say “quid pro quo”?) Hamid Dabashi, who teaches Middle East and Asian Languages, equates Gaza to Auschwitz, downplays the Holocaust, and calls Zionists “hyenas.” Sociologist Saskia Sassen, an outspoken enemy of capitalism and Israel, commutes weekly between her luxurious homes in New York and London while also flying constantly all over the glove to scold audiences for the size of their carbon footprints. As we noted the other day, Kathy Boudin, the cop-killing mother of San Francisco’s newly elected DA, teaches at Columbia. So does Jamal Joseph, who was sentenced to over a decade for his role in the same crime. Joseph Mossad is a gay man who serves as an apologist for the brutal treatment of gay man in the Muslim world. And Gil Anidjar teaches a course in which, ignoring Arabic autocracy throughout the centuries, and dropping down the memory hole the monstrously aggressive Muslim wars of conquest against Europe and other Christian lands, he presents Arabs as having consistently, throughout history, been Europe’s victims – period.

Andrei Serban

It’s gotten so bad that Andrei Serban, a film, theater, and opera director who in 1969 fled communism in Romania – where he was director of the Romanian National Theater – and who is a longtime tenured professor in Columbia’s theater department, has now decided that it’s time to flee Columbia, too, which he describes as being “on its way to full-blown communism.” One example: he had felt pressured to cast a male-to-female transgender student in the female lead of Romeo and Juliet, even though he felt the individual in question wasn’t up to the job. One example: during a departmental search for a new faculty member, a dean insisted that the vacancy couldn’t be filled by the person Serban considered most qualified, because the candidate in question was a white male heterosexual. “I felt like I was living under communism again,” Serban commented.

Meryl Streep in The Cherry Orchard

Serban is hardly an old fogy. In Paris he studied under Peter Brook, whose radical, experimental stagings of new and classic works of theater revolutionized the art of modern theater directing. Serban brought his innovative approach to the U.S., where he directed Meryl Streep in a Lincoln Center production of Chekhov’s The Cherry Orchard and Liev Schreiber in a Public Theater staging of Hamlet. Serban has also directed numerous classics, ranging from The Merchant of Venice to Lysistrata, at the American Repertory Theater in Cambridge, directed operas at the Met in New York and the Opéra Bastille in Paris, and plied his trade at other prestigious venues around the Western world. Throughout his career, his name has been a byword for cutting-edge theater, making him a darling of the high-cultural establishment. All the more ironic, therefore, that such a figure should feel compelled to quit a plum job at an American academic institution because he felt that the guiding political ideology of that institution had shifted too far away from classical liberalism in the direction of the lockstep collectivist groupthink that he thought he had escaped half a century ago in totalitarian Romania.

A further irony: Serban he explained his decision to quit Columbia in an October 26 interview with a TV station in his formerly Communist homeland, which is now a free country.

Bye, Evo!

Jair Bolsonaro

After being ruled by a series of socialist crooks – such as Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, who ended up in prison for money laundering, and Dilma Rousseff, who was removed from office for corruption – Brazil opted for Jair Bolsonaro, a conservative admirer of Donald Trump who believes in cultivating alliances with democracies and spurning dictators. Argentina, after years of rule by “progressives” and Peronists, most notably the left-wing, sticky-fingered Kirschner clan, elected Mauricio Macri who, after high-profile defaults on the nation’s sovereign debt, seeks to reintegrate his country into the international market economy. In Venezuela, where chavismo succeeded in turning a highly prosperous oil-exporting country into a nightmare of hyperinflation where people are eating their pets or fleeing to Colombia, Hugo Chavez’s personally chosen successor, the mendacious Marxist mediocrity Nicolas Maduro, continues to cling to power thanks only to the backing of a ruthless Cuban-trained military even as the admirable Juan Guaido – a fan of liberty, friend of America, admirer of the free market, and potential rescuer of the so-called Bolivarian Republic – waits in the wings, desperate to set things right.

Evo Morales

In these South American nations, then, things seem to be moving in the right direction. Now another one has joined the pack. In Bolivia, Evo Morales, who since his ascent to the presidency in 2006 has become more and more of an authoritarian, finally went too far this year, triggering, in the words of the Atlantic‘s Yascha Mounk, “weeks of mass protests in La Paz and other Bolivian cities, and the rapid crumbling of his support both within law enforcement and his own political party.” In the end, writes Mounk, “his loss of legitimacy among the majority of his own countrymen…forced Morales to resign” on November 10.

2017 protests against Evo’s switcheroo on term limits

Evo’s offenses were many: he violated the two-term presidential limit and got his rubber-stamp Supreme Court to give this move the OK. When he ran for a third term in October and it became clear that the public vote count was going against him, “the vote tally suddenly froze. For 24 hours, the website of Bolivia’s electoral commission offered no more updates. Then the official result was finally announced: Morales had supposedly won 47.1 percent to Carlos Mesa’s 35.5 percent, winning the election outright.” Evo had so obviously pulled a fast one that millions took to the streets in protest. Their reward: threats and beatings by Evo’s thugs. But Evo’s effort to rule by pure force collapsed. An impressive number of cops and soldiers stood up against his gangsterism, saying they wouldn’t do his dirty work for him. They didn’t want to use violence to uphold an autocracy. They wanted freedom. The last straw was an OAS audit of the election; when it proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that Evo had cheated, his last few scummy hangers-on scattered, leaving Evo with no alternative other than to give up. The whole story speaks well of the Ecuadoran people, and especially of the members of a military and a police force who, unlike their counterparts in some Latin American countries, didn’t want to be bullies in the service of despotism.

Proof: SF wants to be Venezuela

The San Francisco Chronicle‘s account was matter-of-fact. Chesa Boudin, wrote Michelle Robertson on November 10, had won the election to become San Francisco’s next district attorney. Robertson described Boudin as “the most progressive candidate on the ballot,” and in other references to him – the kind used in newspapers to avoid repeating a person’s name over and over – Boudin was identified as “[t]he 39-year-old” and as “[t]he former deputy public defender.” Boudin was described as having promised in his campaign to “address racial disparity in the criminal justice system, mass incarceration and police accountability” and quoted him as tweeting “We are all feeling the momentum for change in this city!”

Hugo Chavez

Well, that’s one way of looking at Boudin. Reporting on his election at American Thinker, Monica Showalter led with a few teeny little details that Robertson had managed to skirt. For one thing, Boudin “was quite literally Hugo Chavez’s trusted propagandist, translator and advisor, Cuba-groomed from the start.” He’s “been photographed in Venezuela wielding an assault rifle, and getting guerrilla training, according to Venezuelan sources. He literally hung out with the Chavista goon squads known as ‘colectivos,’ the same thugs who drive around in motorcycles and shoot into crowds who protest. Those are his homies.”

Mother’s yearbook picture

So much for Showalter’s summing-up of Boudin’s career. But for those of us at Useful Stooges, Boudin’s surname rang a bell and inspired us to dig further. It couldn’t be true, could it? Ah, but it was: Boudin is the son of Kathy Boudin and David Gilbert, the notorious Weather Underground members who, after taking part in the 1981 robbery of a Brink’s truck in Rockland County, New York, were found guilty of the murder of two police officers and a security guard. While his parents were carted off to prison, Chesa, a toddler at the time, was handed into he custody of two even more famous members of the Weather Underground: Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn, who became his stepparents. Among the items on Ayers’ resume is his participation in bombings of the New York City Police Department headquarters in 1970, the U.S. Capitol in 1971, and the Pentagon in 1972; Dohrn, aside from having played a role in these endeavors, was also, along with Boudin’s mother, partly responsible for the unintentional March 1970 explosion of a bomb while it was being assembled in the basement of a townhouse at 18 West 11th Street in Greenwich Village. The explosion totally destroyed the townhouse and killed three Weather Underground comrades.

Ayers and Dohrn

In short, Chesa Boudin is a member of domestic terrorist royalty. His parents and stepparents are to deadly, irrational totalitarian violence what the Barrymores were to the theater. In these perverse times, of course, prestigious establishment institutions routinely reward people with such backgrounds: Dohrn now teaches law at Northwestern; Ayers, celebrated for his friendship with Barack Obama and for the rumor that he is the real author of Obama’s Dreams from My Father, is a retired professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago; Boudin is an adjunct professor at Columbia; Gilbert is still behind bars, but we’re sure Harvard or Yale will have something waiting for him if he lives long enough to serve out his sentence.

Dad, who at present remains behind bars

And now, following in the grand post-Sixties American tradition of proceeding from the world of violent revolutionaries dedicated to the overthrow of the American system to the world of credentialed authorities within that very system, Chesa Boudin has been elected San Francisco DA. Not that he hsn’t earned it: like the progeny of other radical dynasties, he’d led a life of privilege, attending Oxford on a Rhodes Scholarship, earning a J.D. at Yale, and writing, translating, or co-editing several books celebrating the chavista regime. Well, given his own background with that regime, which turned Venezuela from a free and prosperous country into an oppressive nightmare of grinding poverty, Boudin should be completely at home in the corridors of power in the city by the Bay, that onetime civic gem that, thanks to the Chavez-style ideology of its overlords, is fast turning into the Marxist hellhole of America’s Pacific coast.

The making of loyal Chinese Communists – at Morningside Heights

Joshua Wang and Brian Leung at Columbia

We’ve been writing a great deal lately here about the pro-Beijing stooges who have come out of the woodwork in recent weeks, standing up for totalitarianism and smearing the freedom marchers in Hong Kong because doing otherwise might adversely affect their income. Several of these defenders of Chinese Communism have been people connected to the NBA, who make a lot of money, one way or another, on the popularity of American basketball in the world’s largest dictatorship. But it’s not just sports people who are on the Chinese government’s payroll. As we saw last week, the bigwigs at New York University, which has a branch in Shanghai, have stayed silent about the Hong Kong protests. Then there’s that equally cash-crazy institution a few miles north, Columbia University, where, as Richard Bernstein reported in October, a presentation the previous month by two democracy activists from Hong Kong, Brian Leung and Joshua Wong, was disrupted by a group of foreign students. Students, of course, from China. Standing up at their seats, they belted out the Chinese national anthem and another patriotic ditty, “Song of the Motherland.” As Bernstein observed, the incident was rich in irony: “Here were Chinese students, living and studying in the West, exercising the freedom to raise a ruckus at an academic conference and implicitly to denounce the pro-democracy yearnings of their Hong Kong counterparts.”

Chinese grads at Columbia University

Bernstein proceeded to make some exceedingly canny points. This episode, he observed, reflected the “general readiness of many Chinese people, at home and abroad, to express their outrage against what their government deems to be ‘anti-China’ opinions in other countries.” In turn, Bernstein pointed out, this readiness was illustrative of “a broad generational cultural shift in China, mostly unexpected and little noticed in the West.” Three decades ago this year, after all, Chinese people turned out in massive numbers to protest the system under which they lived. The Soviet Union was crumbling, the Berlin Wall was about to fall, and in China, too, millions of subjects of totalitarianism, students especially, were aching for liberty. “Occupying Tiananmen Square for two months,” recalls Bernstein, “they held hunger strikes, displaying a statue they called the Goddess of Liberty, before hundreds of them gave their lives when the army opened fire.”

The now-iconic image of the unknown Tienanmen Square protester standing up to tanks, June 5, 1989

But that was then and this is now. In 2019, writes Bernstein, the younger generation of Chinese citizens are the ideological opposites of their 1989 counterparts. In China today, sending your kid to study at an American university is one of the most prized objectives; but this ambition, in most cases, has nothing to do with a regard for American freedom. For both the parents and the children, it’s about prestige, the potential economic value of an Ivy League diploma, and having the opportunity to see the world. But seeing America doesn’t seem to have turned many of the Chinese students at U.S. universities into critics of Beijing’s tyranny or fans of Western liberty. Hence, writes Bernstein, “[i]nstead of educating a new generation of leaders who might make China more liberal, U.S. schools may be training an oppositional cadre more interested in acquiring American know-how than American values.” Moreover, “[t]his is occurring against a larger backdrop in which a resurgent China aggressively trumpets its cultural norms, demanding that foreign businesses – from Google to the NBA – play by its rules.”

Echo Wang

Yes, some of the 300,000 Chinese nationals who are currently studying at U.S. colleges may harbor a secret fondness for Western values – but they don’t dare say so. Yet close observers suggest that there are relatively few closet fans of America in this immense cohort. “I think that even compared to 10 years ago, the whole vibe among Chinese students has changed,” Echo Wang, a recent graduate of the Columbia School of Journalism, told Bernstein, adding that she’s heard from several sources that the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games and the 2008 Western financial crisis boosted a lot of these students’ enthusiasm for their own country’s political system and severely weakened whatever admiration they might have had for capitalism.

Thumbs up for Tarantino; thumbs down for Chan

As we’ve observed over and over again in recent weeks at this site, the current conflicts over the pro-liberty protesters in Hong Kong – and over the growing arrogance of China generally in its relations with the free world – have separated the sheep from the goats. Here are a couple of stories we haven’t covered yet.

Quentin Tarantino

To begin with, there’s Quentin Tarantino. We’ve criticized the brilliant, eccentric writer-director on this site, but it’s important to give credit where credit is due. His new Brad Pitt-Leonardo di Caprio vehicle, Once upon a Time in Hollywood, has been generating even more buzz than his pictures usually do, and looks like it has a fair chance to pick up a few statuettes at Oscar time. But there’s been one problem: the bigwigs in China, a top market for Hollywood films these days, insisted that he make certain cuts before they would allow the movie to be released there. To be sure, when Beijing objected to scenes of violence and nudity in one of his previous works, Django Unchained, he did agree to clip out a few of the scenes that bothered them. But this time Tarantino – who has rights to final cut – responded to their demands with a firm no.

Michael Chan

Then there’s Canadian politician Michael Chan, a former minister of immigration and international trade in the government of Ontario who now sits on the board of governors of Seneca College. He’s come out firmly against the Hong Kong protest, echoing Beijing’s spurious claims that they’re the work of dark “foreign forces” that are interfering in Hong Kong’s affairs and out to make trouble for China. “I have been thinking, why are these young people so radical, so passionate [and] committed to do these things? And why so many people?” Chan said. “If there is no deeply hidden organization in this, or deeply hidden push from the outside, there is no way that such large-scale turmoil would happen in Hong Kong in a few months.”

Chan’s career history is far from irrelevant here. When he was in government, according to the Globe and Mail, Canadian intelligence was seriously concerned about the closeness of his relationship with Chinese consular officials in Toronto and privately warned higher-ups about Chan’s “conduct and the risk of foreign influence.” The Globe and Mail quoted Gloria Fung, president of a group called Canada-Hong Kong Link, as saying that Chan is clearly “not using Canadian values nor the universal values of Western democracies in making all these comments. Rather, he abides by the values of the Chinese Communist Party.”

NYU, PRC, and $$$

NYU Shanghai

In August 2015, we wrote here about several major U.S. universities that have established lucrative branches in less than free countries – such as the United Arab Emirates and other lands awash in petrodollars – and that, in order to be able to operate in those countries, have felt compelled, by their sheer pecuniary interests, to make major compromises when it comes to living up to the idea of a free university.

As we noted, a number of these institutions have branches in China. And that’s not all: there are universities in the U.S. that contain so-called “Confucius Institutes,” centers for the study of China that are essentially sources of propaganda for Communist China.

Che Guangcheng

These cozy relationships between major American universities and the People’s Republic of China have many ramifications for the education of students at those universities. Colleges that play host to “Confucius Institutes” are forbidden by contract from recognizing Taiwan as an independent nation. They are under pressure not to arrange lectures or debates involving China scholars who don’t toe the Beijing line. The agreements with China also prohibit those American universities from sponsoring honest discussions of Tibet or the Tienanmen Square massacre. China scholars at U.S. institutions that have these sorts of links to the PRC dare not criticize China in the classroom or in their writings because they may find their Chinese visas revoked, which, of course, would make it impossible for them to pursue their scholarship. As we noted in 2015, one Chinese dissident, Chen Guangcheng, who had been tortured in China and who went on to have a fellowship at NYU had suddenly, in 2013, found that fellowship cancelled because the honchos at NYU were afraid of offending the Chinese leaders who had ordered his torture.

Jon Levine

On October 19, Jon Levine wrote in the New York Post about the NYU branch in Shanghai, where the fall term had begun but where “one subject that won’t be on the syllabus is pro-democracy protests sweeping Hong Kong.” Levine explained that “NYU faculty in China and New York say the issue is a third rail” and quoted an NYU-Shanghai faculty member as saying that “Everyone is under a bit of a cloud of fear…..We don’t walk around trembling like rodents, but there is a general idea that there are certain topics you don’t discuss….We all learn over time how to self-censor.” Levine noted that young people enrolled at this campus, who receive NYU degrees at the end of their period of study, are “required to take classes like ‘Mao Zedong Thought,’ ‘Introduction to the Communist Party of China’ and courses in political education routinely mandated at other Chinese universities.” This is disgusting, but none of it should be surprising to anyone who is aware that NYU, founded in 1831 and once a revered center of liberal learning and a source of American pride, has long since gotten into the habit of accepting cash from the biggest bidder, however odious.

At 81, Fonda’s still a filthy rich radical

Jane in Barbarella

Henry Fonda was a movie star, and a highly gifted one. His daughter Jane, a person of considerably lesser gifts (although in her youth, starring in trash such as Barbarella, she certainly could fill out a tight outfit), also became a movie star. It didn’t hurt that her daddy was already in the same business. We bring up the topic of nepotism not to be petty or snippy but to underscore that this is a woman who didn’t necessarily have to work hard and long to get to the top. She was born a Hollywood princess, and when she ascended quite swiftly and smoothly to the role of Hollywood queen, it doubtless felt quite natural to her. And like many persons who are born into royalty, and who cannot remember a time when they were not treated with near-reverence by a sizable number of the hoi polloi, she plainly had, from an early age, the vague notion that she knew more than she actually knew, and, moreover, that she certainly must know a good deal more than those slavering mobs who were so eager to glimpse her and snap pictures of her in the street, and that she consequently had not just a right but an obligation, a noblesse oblige-type obligation, to share her wisdom with the lesser beings, the common folk, who surrounded her.

On that anti-aircraft gun in 1972

Hence, as a young woman, who, of course, enjoyed all the wealth and privilege that America had to offer, she went off to Vietnam, where her country was at war, and socialized with the enemy, delivered broadcasts on their behalf, and even posed for pictures with them, including a now-iconic photograph of herself perched on an anti-aircraft gun the purpose of which was to shoot down planes being piloted by her own countrymen, although those countrymen, unlike her, were likely to be young men whose parents nobody had ever heard of and who perhaps even came from towns that nobody could find on a map. Jane’s chief objective on that day was to put a human face on Communism. She plainly felt that Communism was a good thing, and that America, which had given her everything, was worth nothing. She later apologized for the photo on the anti-aircraft gun, but then again she pretty much was forced to do so by the outrage of the masses, and if she ever delivered a broader mea culpa for her role in whitewashing a movement that, after the U.S. withdrawal from Indochina, ended up committing genocide in Cambodia, we’re unaware of it.

Jane Fonda in Klute

Many remarkable developments have occurred in the decades since Jane’s Vietnam escapade. For one thing, she was widely forgiven for her obscene collaboration with the enemy. Although to this day, indeed, she is known in some circles as Hanoi Jane, she went on to have a successful movie career and to win not one but two Academy Awards for Best Actress. Some might consider those awards undeserved. When she won for playing a hooker in Klute in 1971, she beat out Vanessa Redgrave and Glenda Jackson; when she won for Coming Home in 1978, she beat out Geraldine Page and Ingrid Bergman. All those other actresses are brilliant. Is Jane? Some of us would say no. Some would say she had nowhere near the range of those other screen and stage artists. Both of the parts she won Oscars for, moreover, are one-dimensional, forgettable. Who watches either of those movies nowadays? Who discusses them? Pretty much nobody. Then, one might ask, why did she win? Why was she nominated, over the years, for no fewer than seven Oscars? Almost no other actor has ever been nominated for so many Oscars. Hence the thought crosses one mind: has Jane, in fact, been rewarded for having been, to put it bluntly, a traitor? Hollywood is left-wing, but is it that left-wing?

With then hubby Ted Turner

Another remarkable development. Despite her fondness for the Communist enemy during the Vietnam War, she later proved to be a first-rate capitalist. Whether or not you think she’s an acting genius, she sure is a genius at business. In addition to her film career, she made millions off of workout videos. And she managed to snag, as one of her husbands, no less a tycoon than Ted Turner, who founded CNN and, at one point, owned more land in the U.S. than anyone else except the federal government. It was, in at least one sense, a marriage made in heaven, since Ted, too, despite his massive fortune, was a fan of Communism – and, moreover, as we’ve recounted at length on this website, a chum of Fidel Castro and other totalitarians.

Jane under arrest in October

One last remarkable thing about Jane. You might think that after her Hanoi Jane humiliation, she’d have spent the rest of her life acting – i.e. reading aloud lines written by others – and keeping her mouth shut about world events. Au contraire. She may have apologized frequently for her Vietnam debacle, but it’s hard to believe she ever really meant it. Because her basic attitudes seem not to have changed much, and she just keeps behaving as if the world needs to know what she thinks – as if, indeed, the fate of the world depends on letting everyone know what she thinks. She seems, you might even say, to be hard-wired to speak out, and, invariably, to parrot passionately, as if she had come up with the ideas herself, whatever the PC clichés of the day might be. Now 81, she was arrested twice alone in October during climate-change protests in Washington, D.C. She actually described herself at the time as a “climate scientist.” This is a new one on us: as far as we know, the nearest she’s come to being a scientist is starring in the 1979 nuke power plant drama The China Syndrome. As ever, however, the mockery of her latest self-description, which is well-deserved, has been drowned out by the hosannas: a recent Los Angeles Times article about Fonda’s lifetime of arrests, of which there have been many, was a veritable love letter; and when she appeared in 2016 on the Jimmy Fallon Show her whole history of lawbreaking was treated as nothing less than adorable, an occasion for amusement of the sort that is trotted out on such programs. But then again, how else do you expect Hollywood media to treat Hollywood royalty?