Nigeria stones gays; CNN cheers Nigeria’s “traditional weddings”

Germany’s first same-sex wedding, 2017

For those of us who live in the Western world, it can seem as if gay rights have won the day. Having been legalized in Germany in 2017 and in Austria in 2018, same-sex marriage is the law of the land in every major Western country except Switzerland, which seems to be on the verge of approval. It’s still verboten, to be sure, in the microstates of Liechtenstein, Andorra, Monaco, and – surprise! – the Vatican City State.

Monaco: every modern amenity except gay marriage

There are odd exceptions and gray areas. Another microstate, San Marino, in the name of tourist profits, permits foreign gay couples, but not same-sex Sammarinese citizens, to wed within its borders. Also, although the 2015 U.S. Supreme Court ruling on gay nuptials applies to Puerto Rico, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, the jury is still out on whether it applies to American Samoa. And while gay marriages are already recognized in most of the U.K. and in the nation of Ireland, gays in Northern Ireland won’t enjoy the right to marry until this coming January. There are other curiosities: the Netherlands was the first country in the world to permit same-sex marriage, but the status of gay unions is still a gray area in Aruba, Curaçao and Sint Maarten, even though they are fully constituent parts of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. The two large islands making up the bulk of New Zealand have recognized same-sex marriage since 2013, but it’s still banned in the rest of the so-called Realm of New Zealand — namely, the Cook Islands and the islands of Niue and Tokelau.

Some may find it surprising that so many Latin American countries – Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Mexico, and Uruguay – have same-sex marriage. Even more surprising, perhaps, is that there are beginning to be legal breakthroughs in gay rights in countries where public hostility toward gays is still through the roof. In June, for example, laws criminalizing same-sex relations were – quite remarkably – ruled unconstitutional in Botswana. This followed similar actions in Angola, Mozambique, and the Seychelles – and, last year, in India.

Goodluck Jonathan with Barack Obama

But in some part of the world, things are going the other way. Take Nigeria. In 2014, that country’s then president, Goodluck Jonathan, signed an act prohibiting same-sex marriage and “amorous relationships,” the latter of which apparently refers to any sort of intimate same-sex conduct. Violation can result in a long jail term – which, according to the Guardian, is 10 years. On December 11, the Guardian‘s Jason Burke reported that no fewer than 47 men had just gone on trial for this transgression, having been arrested in a police raid on a Lagos hotel where they were attending a meeting of a gay club. Although the law has previously been used by Nigerian authorities to harass, detain, intimidate, and extort money from gays, this is reportedly the first time that suspected offenses have led to actual prosecution.

A “traditional Nigerian wedding” as depicted by CNN

In a way, the 47 gay defendants were lucky to have been arrested in Lagos, which is in southern Nigeria, rather than in one of twelve states in northern Nigeria that have adopted sharia law, under which homosexuality is punishable by stoning to death. Given these grim facts about the status of gays in Nigeria, some readers who are aware of the truth about the situation might have been surprised on October 1 to read an article on the CNN website headlined “10 Things Nigeria Does Better than Anywhere Else.” The author of the piece, Noo Saro-Wiwa, began by admitting that “Nigeria has something of an image problem” but went on at once to insist that Nigeria, for several reasons, is an absolutely terrific tourist destination. Ironically, the very first reason given was the country’s “traditional weddings”: After gushing for several sentences about the terrific way in which Nigerians perform marriage ceremonies, Saro-Wiwa concluded: “If you haven’t experienced a traditional Nigerian wedding, you haven’t experienced Nigeria.” In true CNN fashion – the international “news” network loves to whitewash African and Arabic countries, perhaps because it derives much of its income from African governments, in the form of advertising revenue from their national airlines and tourism boards, and despite the fact that these countries are the toughest on earth on their gay citizens – there wasn’t a word about the way in which non-traditional couples are treated in Africa’s most populous country. This is CNN.

Mainstreaming Jew-hatred

Rashida Tlaib

Before World War II, anti-Semitism was an everyday part of life in most of the Western world. It was understood to take two forms. There was “vulgar” anti-Semitism and “genteel” anti-Semitism. The kind of people who were afflicted with the latter looked down upon the kind of people who were afflicted with the former. The “genteel” anti-Semites would never use certain “vulgar” anti-Semitic words. They might even have Jewish friends, because they distinguished between the Jews who were – how to put it? – clubbable, and those who weren’t. But they also joined “restricted” social clubs and golf clubs, stayed at hotels that banned Jews, and sent their kids to colleges that had quotas for Jewish students.

Many Jews who made it big kept their Jewish identity to themselves, or at least didn’t make a show of it. Jewish performers ditched their Jewish-sounding names and replaced them with WASPy monickers. In the 1930s, Jewish studio heads, producers, directors, and writers in Hollywood were reluctant to make movies about Nazi anti-Semitism for fear of drawing attention to their own Jewishness. For the same reason, the Jewish publishers of the New York Times downplayed news about the Holocaust.

Gregory Peck in Gentleman’s Agreement

It was, in fact, the Holocaust, when the entire story finally came out, that shone as bright a light on Jew-hatred as one could ever imagine. No, anti-Semitism didn’t vanish, but it was no longer considered respectable, at least not by anybody who wanted to be considered respectable. The Academy Award for Best Picture of 1947 went to Gentleman’s Agreement, a movie about anti-Semitism. In pretty much every country in the Western world, memorials were erected to the six million Jews killed in the Final Soultion and Holocaust museums were established. Some of us grew up in a time when anti-Semitism seemed surely to have become a thing of the past.

Jeremy Corbyn

But we were wrong. In Britain, the head of one of the two major political parties, Jeremy Corbyn, is an undeniable anti-Semite. In the U.S., unapologetic Jew-haters have been elected to Congress. As the Washington Free Beacon reported recently, one of these House members, Rashida Tlaib of Michigan, “was the keynote speaker at a conference hosted by a Muslim organization that traffics in anti-Semitic conspiracy theories and that counts among its supporters many who seek Israel’s destruction.” The organization in question is the American Muslims for Palestine (AMP), and the conference took place in late November in Chicago. Also onstage was Linda Sarsour, the unlikely feminist leader who wears a hijab, hangs with Farrakhan, and fills her speeches with anti-Semitic bile. Yet another speaker was Zahra Billoo, who in a 2014 tweet wrote that “Blaming Hamas for firing rockets at Israel is like blaming a woman for punching her rapist.” Panel discussions at the conference called for the destruction of Israel and for the classification of Zionism as a disease.

Bernie Sanders

In another recent article, this one for the Spectator, Dominic Green took on the curious case of Bernie Sanders, senator and presidential candidate, whose Jewish background – members of his family were murdered in the Holocaust – doesn’t keep him from being more than tolerant of anti-Semitism. For example, he’s a fan of Corbyn, even though the latter “detests the Zionist entity with a near-Soviet passion, and is visibly aroused when he gets to signal his vices by introducing Islamists like Raed Salah, a publicist for the primitive ‘blood libel’ that Jews bake with Christian blood, into the House of Commons.” Sanders, notes Green, has called Corbyn “courageous.” Moreover, Sanders is chummy with Sarsour, who spoke on his behalf at the AMP conference. Addressing the attendees in her role as his designated surrogate, she asked: “How can you be against white supremacy in the United States of America, and the idea of living in a supremacist state based on race and class, but then support a state like Israel that is built on supremacy? That is built on the idea that Jews are supreme to everybody else. How do you, then, not support the caging of children on the US-Mexican border, but then you support the detainment and detention of Palestinian children in Palestine? How does that work, sisters and brothers?”

Linda Sarsour

Back in September the New York Post reported that “[p]ressure is mounting on Sen. Bernie Sanders to cut ties with longtime campaign surrogate Linda Sarsour, with critics such as Manhattan billionaire Ronald Lauder citing her long history of anti-Semitic comments.” Lauder, president of the World Jewish Congress, said at the time: “Linda Sarsour is a virulent anti-Semite who has publicly stated that ‘nothing is creepier than Zionism.’ Her views have no place in our political discourse and any candidate who associates with her is guilty of handing a megaphone to anti-Semites around the country.” Indeed, But Sanders shows no sign of cutting her loose. He still, apparently, views her as an asset. Which says something scary indeed about the current resurgence and mainstreaming of Jew-hatred in the West.

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.”