You can’t keep
a good jihadist sympathizer and Jew-hater down. Less than a month
after being (sort of) officially chided by the House of
Representatives for her repeated use of anti-Semitic tropes, freshman
Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, who took that whole episode not just in her
stride but as a sort of joke, went to California to give the keynote
speech at a CAIR banquet.
This is a woman
who, as Michelle Malkin noted
says Trump is not “human.” On an Arab-American talk show, she mocked a college professor who treated terrorist organizations al-Qaida and Hezbollah with gravity. She cackled at how he named them with a sternness in his voice and questioned why the words “Army” and “America” are not uttered with equal contempt.
However many news
media may continue to treat CAIR – the Council on American Islamic
Relations – as a legitimate civil-rights organization, it was an
unindicted co-conspirator in the 2007 trial of the Holy Land
Foundation, which was found guilty of financing terror. CAIR has been
tied to the Islamic Association for Palestine, a front for Hamas, and
CAIR itself is considered a terrorist organization by the United Arab
Emirates. CAIR officials have been found guilty in court of
laundering funds directed at Hamas and of training with a terrorist
group and conspiring in terrorism. CAIR played a role in promoting
the “Clock Boy” charade. After any terror attack, CAIR is quick
to try to use charges of “Islamophobia” and “racism” to
silence anyone who dares speak the truth about jihadist ideology. Yet
to acknowledge any of this is still considered inappropriate at many
of our more respected newspapers and cable news networks.
So it is that
even a Congresswoman who’s been criticized for wearing a hijab in
Congress and who’s been in hot water for her comments about Jews
can get away with addressing a CAIR confab. In fact, this is no
first: Omar spoke
at a banquet for CAIR San Francisco in December 2017. Last month, she
spoke at an event sponsored by Islamic Relief, which Sweden considers
a Muslim Brotherhood front and which the UAE considers a terrorist
any case, this time around the event
was held by CAIR’s Los Angeles chapter. It was entitled “Advancing
Justice: Empowering Valley Muslims,” and the purpose of the evening
was to present the 2019 Champion of Justice award to Jewish Voice for
Peace, a radical anti-Israel group posing as an organization for
peace-loving Jews. Omar’s co-keynoter was CAIR-Florida executive
director Hassan Shibly, who, according
to the Jerusalem Post, is
“vehemently anti-Israel” and denies that Hezbollah and Hamas are
This time, at
least, there was protest. Signs and banners read “Omar equals
hate,” “CAIR hates Jews,” and “Ilhan hates Israel.” Well,
that certainly sums it up.
We have to admit that we misinterpreted
at the Fox News website the other day. “Samuel L. Jackson,” it
read, “doesn’t care if his Trump stance costs him fans.” Given
that virtually everybody in Hollywood these days is an open, all-out,
full-throated, full-time critic of President Trump, we assumed that
Jackson must be an exception. Nope! He’s a member of the chorus,
accusing Trump of “ruining the planet” and comparing him to a
It’s not clear why this is suddenly
news, because a little research shows that Jackson, in addition to
being an big Hollywood movie star known for such films as Pulp
Fiction, Jackie Brown, and Django Unchained, has been
pursuing something of a side career as a dyspeptic political
commentator for a long time.
And before he was an actor, he wasn’t
just a man of words – he was a man of action. At Morehouse College
in the Sixties, he was a real live student radical. In 1969, he and
several confrères held some of the college’s trustees hostage –
yes, you read that right – in an effort to force the administration
to make curricular changes. Later he got involved with Black Power
leaders like Stokely Carmichael and H. Rap Brown. “I was in that
radical faction,” Jackson toldPeople magazine in 2008. “We were buying guns, getting ready
for armed struggle.”
Fortunately for Jackson, his mother
slapped some sense in him. He ended up studying drama and “decided
that theater would now be my politics.” So instead of ending up in
prison, like H. Rap Brown, he now lives in the gated community of
Beverly Park, California, in a Tudor-style house that’s been
in Architectural Digest, and until last year also owned
an apartment on the Upper East Side of Manhattan that was listed for
$13 million. Now, instead of armed struggle, his personal revolution
takes the form of political rants delivered via Twitter or in media
Back in 2012, for example, he toldPolitico that he’d voted for Barack Obama in 2008 “because
he was black.” But in the end Obama hadn’t proven to be black
enough for him. “Because, what’s a [N-word]? A [N-word] is scary.
Obama ain’t scary at all. [N-words] don’t have beers at the White
House. [N-words] don’t let some white dude, while you in the middle
of a speech, call [him] a liar. A [N-word] would have stopped the
meeting right there and said, ‘Who the **** said that?’”
In an interview
the next year, however, Jackson seemed to feel that Obama had become
too black. According to The Independent, he“took
issue with the US President dropping the ‘G’s at the end of his
words.” Jackson offered the President this advice: “stop trying
to ‘relate’. Be a leader. Be ****ing presidential.” He went on:
“Look, I grew up in a society where I could say ‘I ain’t’ or
‘what it be’ to my friends. But when I’m out presenting myself to the
world as me, who graduated from college, who had family who cared
about me, who has a well-read background, I ****ing conjugate.”
Jackson also predicted that “If Hillary Clinton decides to run,
she’s going to kick their ****ing asses, and those mother****ers” –
the Republicans – “would rather see the country go down in flames
than let the times change.”
When Donald Trump stepped onto the
political stage, Jackson was quick to compare
him to P.T. Barnum. There ensued a Twitter war between the actor and
the real-estate mogul, who in more congenial times, it turned out,
had been golf buddies. Appearing
on Jimmy Kimmel Live, Jackson said that “If that
mother****er becomes president, I’m moving my black [posterior] to
South Africa.” (After Election Day 2016, however, he said he wasn’t
moving anyplace.) Visiting Dubai in December 2016, Jackson expressed
concern that Trump would “destroy Hollywood.” Yes, destroy
Hollywood. “Hopefully we will be able to keep working and he won’t
shut Hollywood down,” he said. “You know he could say, ‘Hollywood
didn’t support me,’ so that’s it. Who knows what could happen.”
There was no sign that Jackson was kidding.
In an April 2017 ad for a congressional
candidate in Georgia, Jackson said:
“Stop Donald Trump, the man who encourages racial and religious
discrimination and sexism.” Last June, the actor sent
the President a sarcastic happy-birthday tweet in which he implied
that Trump and several of his closest associates, including Rudy
Giuliani, were gay. In other tweets, Jackson has called Trump a
“Hemorrhoid,” a “Busted Condom,” and a “canker sore.”
People with a connection to Trump have
also incurred Jackson’s wrath. During the Brett Kavanaugh hearings,
about the judge’s “Lying Fratboy [Posterior].” He’s also
harsh on black conservatives, comparing
his character in Django Unchained, a house slave who believes
in slavery and loves his master, to Supreme Court Justice Clarence
Jackson poses as a tough-talking,
street-smart guy who’s saying the gutsy things that nobody else
dares say. In fact, nothing that he says about politics deviates in
the slightest from the Hollywood party line. Nothing he says will
ruffle the feathers of any of the friends and colleagues whom he
encounters on movie sets and at awards ceremonies and at chic Beverly
Hills eateries. But of course he’s not just another Tinseltown
robot: he’s a guy who came frighteningly close to having a short
and sanguinary career of beating people up and killing cops. So
Donald Trump, and others whom Jackson despises, should count
themselves lucky that his weapon of choice these days is not a
12-gauge shotgun and a Twitter account.
When Anthony Bourdain chose to off himself on June 8, millions mourned. He was a member of that ever-growing tribe, the celebrity chefs – people who have used books and TV to turn themselves into superstars and millionaires, all the while introducing their fans to culinary experiences from around the world.
It all began with his bestselling 2000 book Kitchen Confidential, following not too long thereafter by the first of several TV series that combined food with travel. Well, actually, of course, it began before the book – with stints as top chef at several leading restaurants in New York City. His signature gig was at the Manhattan branch of Brasserie Les Halles, where he started working as executive chef in 1998 and with which he maintained a relationship until it closed its doors last year.
For some folks, that career would’ve been enough. But not Bourdain. He also wrote fiction. In 2011, Ecco Press gave him his own publishing line. He produced and starred in his own movie. To his admirers, he was not just one more globetrotting guy sampling exotic fare on camera – he was a “rock star,” a “culinary bad boy,” a – well, you get the idea.
But as Gore Vidal once said, “It is not enough to succeed. Others must fail.” Among the other celebrity chefs who felt the sharp edge of his carving knife was Guy Fieri. Bourdain dismissed Rachael Ray as a no-talent. He trashed Wolfgang Puck’s “shitty pizza restaurants.” We don’t even know who Sandra Lee is, but he called her “pure evil.” We do know who Alice Waters is – she runs the legendary Chez Panisse restaurant in Berkeley California, and made her name by promoting fresh, locally sources foods. Her crime, in Bourdain’s book? Her agenda isn’t PC enough – it doesn’t take into account either poor people or sustainability.
Bourdain’s take on Paula Deen was also partly rooted in PC considerations. Bourdain called Deen “the worst, most dangerous person to America.” Why? Well, one reason was that her recipes were too high-calorie. Another reason: “her food sucks.” Reason #3 – and here’s the PC part: “She revels in unholy connections with evil corporations…she’s unconscionable, cynical, and greedy.”
Then there’s this: “I will never eat in his [Donald Trump’s] restaurant. I have utter contempt for him, utter and complete contempt… I’m not going. I’m not going.” Last year, when asked what he would serve if asked to cater a peace summit between Trump and Kim Jong Un, Bourdain said: “Hemlock.” How courageous of Bourdain to express a political view that he had to know 99% of his fans would cheer.
A few years back, Waters came up with a terrific way of getting back at this pompous fool: she started a pseudonymous Twitter account under the name “Ruth Bourdain.” After the secret came out, she explained: “Well, Tony has always been something of an ass to me. So there’s that. But he also represents this tremendous dark-side of the human psyche. He is drugs, and sex, and rock music.”
He was also, as his comments on Deen makes clear, a world-class hypocrite – a man who got rich on capitalism but was quick to demonize others who dared to try to make a buck. Meanwhile, as Humberto Fontova pointed out after Bourdain’s suicide, this man who “wore his ‘anti-corporate hipness’ on his shirtsleeve, always smirking and snarking that ‘evil corporations’ and ‘crass commercialism’ repelled him,” was at the same time “a shameless tourism agent for the Castro-Family-and-Military Crony-Crime Syndicate, a thieving, murdering criminal-corporate empire that makes the Mafia look like Boy Scouts of America.”
On Tuesday we revisited the story of Yvette Felarca, the Berkeley middle-school humanities teacher who moonlights as a Communist storm trooper – and who, despite multiple arrests for committing acts of violence, and calls for her dismissal by the parents of at lease some of her students, has retained her job in the classroom.
Even after she went on Tucker Carlson’s Fox News program and accused conservative activist Milo Yiannopouous of leading “a movement of genocide” and stirring up a “lynch mob mentality” – accusations so far from the truth that they only underscored the intensity of her own fantaticism – she kept her job. Although she is a humanities teacher, she was insistent that Yiannapoulos, and others whose views she deemed to be unacceptable, needed to be deprived of their First Amendment rights.
On Sepember 26 of last year, Felarca was at it again. A group of conservative Christians held a small prayer rally in Berkeley – only to be heckled and harassed by Felarca and company. Again she was arrested – and again she kept her job.
A few months went by. Then, in May, Felarca finally faced justice. A felony case against her, arising from her involvement in a Sacramento riot in July 2016, was moved forward by Sacramento County Superior Court Judge Michael Savage. Felarca and her fellow rioters had been violently protesting a white-supremacist rally. As we noted on Tuesday, Felarca and other members of her Trotskyite terrorist organization, By Any Means Necessary (BAMN), committed acts that day that ended up with ten stab-wound victims being rushed to the hospital and the arrest of over 200 BAMN thugs.
According to media reports, Felarca herself “shoved a man to the ground,” punched another man in the stomach, and yelled “Get the fuck off our streets.” The case against her included “a felony charge of assault with force likely to produce great bodily injury and two misdemeanor charges of rioting and inciting a riot.”
Judge Savage ordered that the charges be moved forward despite a request by Felarca’s lawyer, Shanta Driver, that they be dropped. “I think the judge’s decision was politically motivated; I don’t think it was valid,” said Driver (who, by the way, is not only Felarca’s lawyer but the head of BAMN). “I think that this decision is regarded by all as being really outrageous.”
Felarca, for her part, called the charges “completely false and politically motivated” and described herself as the victim of a “witch-hunt.”
Now, as we’ve seen in our previous coverage of Felarca, absolutely nothing that this woman says can be believed. She genuinely appears to perceive statements that she disagrees with as acts of violence – in her own words, literally “genocidal” – and to regard her own physically violent responses to those acts as thoroughly justified. She has, in other words, the soul of a totalitarian.
As it happens, her claim that the charges against her are “completely false” is disproved by a video of Felarca punching a man that day in Sacramento.
As this case moves forward, it will be fascinating to see if Sacramento County justice is a little saner than Berkeley justice.
We first reported on Yvette Felarca on April 17. She’s a leader of By Any Means Necessary (BAMN), a gang of Trotskyite thugs – and associates of the Revolutionary Communist Party – who keep themselves busy by rallying, rioting, brawling, making noise, setting fires, breaking stuff, and, on occasion, engaging in activities that both the FBI and Defense Department have labeled acts of terrorism. She’s also a teacher at the Martin Luther King, Jr., Middle School in the Berkeley Unified School District (BUSD) in Berkeley, California.
In June 2016, when white supremacists held a rally outside the California State Capitol in Sacramento, Felarca took part in a mass counter-protest that sent ten people to the hospital with stab wounds and led to over 200 arrests. According to media reports, Felarca herself “shoved a man to the ground,” punched a man in the stomach, and yelled “Get the fuck off our streets.” She was arrested, and outraged parents of kids at her school called for her dismissal, but of course the school kept her on, with a BUSD spokesman explaining, “We don’t have any authority or business to judge what an employee does in her off time.”
So Felarca kept her Berkeley job. If anyone hoped she had learned a lesson from the parental complaints, that hope was dashed in February of last year when she and other BAMN members rioted and rampaged in Berkeley itself. Their goal was to shut down a planned speech by conservative Milo Yiannopoulos, whom they accused of trying “to shut up and put in our places women or Muslims or minorities” and “trying to assert their power, threaten us, intimidate us, rape us, kill us.”
In reality, Yiannopoulos is just a man with opinions who goes around giving speeches. He does not commit acts of violence. So far as we know, he has never threatened anyone or raised his hand against anyone, let alone tried to rape or kill. Felarca and her crew are the ones who act like savages. And that’s what they did in Berkeley that day – they destroyed property, threw stuff at cops, and, in fact, ultimately forced the cancellation of Yiannopoulos’s speech.
But Felarca still kept her job.
For anyone who knows Berkeley, the refusal of local officials to fire this dangerous Communist firebrand was not really all that surprising. As it turned out, indeed, the mayor of Berkeley himself, Jesse Arreguín, is a member of BAMN and a friend of Felarca’s.
Shortly after her big day in Berkeley, Felarca appeared on Tucker Carlson’s Fox News program. On the show, she charged Yiannopoulos, a gay man (who, as it happens, is now married to a black man), with telling “racist, misogynistic, and homophobic lies,” with organizing “a movement of genocide,” and with stirring up a “lynch mob mentality.”
Felarca herself routinely commits actual violence, but here she was raising the spectre of lynching and genocide in her attacks on a man whose only weapon is his voice. In an apparent call for the suspension of the First Amendment, she insisted that Yiannapoulos needed to be “shut down.”
As we noted last week, Louis Farrakhan, the longtime head of the Nation of Islam and one of the most notorious white-haters and anti-Semites in America during the last few decades, began his career as a calypso musician. He quit music on orders from Nation of Islam founder Elijah Muhammed, but decades later he returned to it, reportedly after being encouraged to do so by yet another one of his high-placed and apparently shame-free friends – Sylvia Olden Lee, a vocal coach who was the first African-American employee of the Metropolitan Opera and who performed at the White House for the first inauguration of Franklin D. Roosevelt.
Farrakan gave the first performance in his newly resumed career as part of a three-day Winston-Salem, North Carolina, event devoted to black musicians and classical music. It was reviewed in the New York Times on April 9, 1993, by Bernard Holland, who wrote:
Can Louis Farrakhan play the violin? God bless us, he can. He makes a lot of mistakes, not surprising for a man who had virtually abandoned the instrument for 40 years and has only owned one since 1974. Yet Mr. Farrakhan’s sound is that of the authentic player. It is wide, deep and full of the energy that makes the violin gleam. His thrusting sense of phrase has musical power to it….
“God bless us”? Holy cow.
That was only the beginning. In February 2002, in Cerritos, California, Farrakhan gave a violin recital entitled “A Night of Beethoven.” The years went by. Every now and then, when he wasn’t busy delivering venomous sermons or hanging out with the likes of Barack Obama and Keith Ellison, Farrakhan would return to the musical stage, apparently to the great enjoyment of many, who either shared his vile views or who were somehow willing to overlook them.
Now his career as a performing artist has reached a new chapter. On March 15, both Haaretz and the Jewish Daily Forward reported that he’d just dropped a new seven-CD set. Artists like Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, and Barbra Streisand have had big hits with albums of duets on which they perform with other big-name stars. Farrakhan’s new release, Let’s Change the World, follows the same formula. Among the entertainers who appear with him on the set, which sells for $260 and “features 45 songs in a variety of genres, including classical, gospel, jazz, folk, opera, rap, reggae and calypso,” are Stevie Wonder, Snoop Dogg, Chaka Khan, Rick Ross, Damian Marley, Stephanie Mills, and Common. Snoop Dogg, as it happens, is not only a musical collaborator of Farrakhan’s but a sometime member of the Nation of Islam, which he joined in 2009.
Well, as they say, music is the universal language. It transcends place and time and culture. And, sometimes, simple moral decency.
On Tuesday we saw that Louis Farrakhan, the longtime head of the Nation of Islam, has, over the course of his career, has been a consistent hater of Jews and whites, an admirer of Hitler, and a friend of such admirable types as Muammar Qaddafi, Saddam Hussein, and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
Farrakhan was chummy with somebody else too – Barack Obama. In 1995, Obama, along with Al Sharpton, Jeremiah Wright, and others, helped Farrakhan organize the so-called “Million Man March.”
The two men were all smiles in a snapshot that was taken at a 2005 meeting of the Congressional Black Caucus, but that was kept out of the public eye until this year. (Upon finally releasing the picture, the photographer, Askia Muhammad, who at the time had been working for the Nation of Islam, explained that he had held it back for all these years because he realized that it could have seriously damaged Obama’s political career.)
During the 2008 presidential campaign, Farrakhan hailed Obama as “a herald of the messiah.” According to Farrakhan, the Nation of Islam donated money to Obama’s 1996 campaign for the Illinois Senate; a former Farrakhan aid later said that during Obama’s time in the state legislature, the two men were in frequent and direct touch.
Keith Ellison of Minnesota, the first Muslim member of the U.S. House of Representatives, is a former Nation of Islam member (he once wrote under the Nation of Islam name “Keith X Ellison”) who has repeatedly defended Farrakhan’s anti-semitic and anti-white rhetoric.
Cut to February 2018. Tamika Mallory, an organizer of the Women’s March, was spotted at a Farrakhan speech in which he spoke of “Satanic Jews,” said that “when you want something in this world, the Jew holds the door,” declared that “the powerful Jews are my enemy” and predicted that “white folks are going down.” He even “gave Mallory a personal shoutout,” according to the ADL. The event drew attention to Mallory’s longtime support for Farrakhan. (She once posted on Instagram a picture of herself with him, captioned “GOAT” – short for Greatest of All Time.) Under pressure to disavow Farrakhan, she refused, tweeting: “I won’t go back, I won’t redraw the lines of division. I want a new way.”
As it happens, Mallory’s fellow Women’s March leaders, Carmen Perez and Linda Sarsour, also have ties to Farrakhan–and also refuse to cut him loose. In an official Women’s March statement, they said that they had chosen to remain silent about Farrakhan because they had been discussing the matter with “queer, trans, Jewish and Black” activists and were seeking to “break the cycles that pit our communities against each other.” When a black minister defended Farrakhan on Twitter, Sarsour wrote to him: “you are too blessed to be stressed. You are a man walking the path towards justice & standing up for the most marginalized. Stay strong and stay focused.”
You stay focused, too. Back on Tuesday with a few last words on Farrakhan.
We’ve devoted a lot of our attention on this website to famous Western entertainers – from Hilary Swank and Sharon Stone to Kurt Russell and Goldie Hawn – who’ve performed for various Asian or African dictators in exchange for hefty paychecks. Pretty sleazy stuff, of course, especially given that the entertainers in question were hardly strapped for cash. No, it’s called selling out.
There are, of course, other ways for celebrities to sell out.
Born in Roxbury, Massachusetts, in 1933, Louis Eugene Walcott began his career as a calypso singer and violinist, using the stage names “The Charmer” and “Calypso Gene.” But apparently music wasn’t doing it for him. He needed more. In 1955 he attended a Nation of Islam event at a mosque in Chicago. It changed his life. Not long after, he joined the Nation of Islam and became Louis X, the use of “X” in place of a last name being a Nation of Islam practice based on the premise that black Americans’ last names were slave names and that their original African names were unknown. Later, Elijah Muhammed, the Nation of Islam leader, gave Louis the Arabic last name of Farrakhan, which means “The Criterion.”
It was not long before Farrakhan was named a minister, serving first as the assistant to Malcolm X in Boston, then becoming head minister there. But Farrakhan proved himself to be a more loyal member of the cult than even Malcolm X. When the famous activist, who for most white Americans was the very face of the Nation of Islam, called out the cult’s leader, Elijah Muhammed, for sexually abusing teenage girls, Farrakhan publicly defended Elijah Muhammed to the hilt and declared Malcolm X to be “worthy of death.” A few weeks later, Malcolm X was murdered by three men with links to the Nation of Islam.
After Elijah Muhammed died, Farrakhan served as a Sunni imam under the late leader’s son, Warith Al-Deen Mohammed,who gave him the name Abdul-Haleem. Leaving Mohammed’s movement in 1978, Farrakhan established a new Nation of Islam. At its head, he routinely made headlines by calling caucasians “white devils,” calling Jews “bloodsuckers” and Judaism “a gutter religion,” and calling Hitler “very great.” Speaking of the Jews in a 1985 speech at Madison Square Garden, Farrakhan exclaimed: “Don’t you forget, when it’s God who puts you in the ovens, it’s forever!” Repeatedly, Farrkahan proclaimed that God had decreed the death of America, which he described as the most evil nation in human history. He pinned 9/11 on “the Jews.”
He was friendly with Muammar Qaddafi, who donated a billion dollars to Farrakhan’s political work, and who, speaking at a Nation of Islam convention in Chicago, said that he hoped to fund a black revolution in America. Farrakhan, for his part, called Qaddafi his “friend” and “brother.” He also befriended the leaders of Iran, Iraq, and other countries listed by the U.S. as state sponsors of terrorism.
He exchanged letters of support with Saddam Hussein, whom he praised as a “visionary.” Years later, he met with Iranian leader Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
A pretty appalling record. And yet it hasn’t kept a number of high-profile showbiz figures from gladly collaborating with him. More on Thursday.
For a long time, nobody thought of Robert De Niro as an American thinker, great or otherwise. For over a quarter century, however, he was unquestionably a great American artist – a remarkably versatile and extraordinarily compelling actor who created immortal characters in such films as The Godfather, Part II, Taxi Driver, The Deer Hunter, Raging Bull, Goodfellas, Cape Fear, and Casino. He was nominated for several Oscars, and won two. In short, a cinematic treasure.
In recent years, however, De Niro has become what some uncharitable observers might describe as a sellout. You might have gotten a few laughs out of Analyze This and Analyze That, but nobody will ever confuse them with The Godfather, Part I and II. You can say one thing about those two comedies – they look like Preston Sturges masterpieces alongside Meet the Parents, Meet the Fockers, and Little Fockers. And the movies have just gotten worse and worse: The Intern, Dirty Grandpa, and The Comedian gave new meaning to the word lightweight. He’s obviously decided to stop going with the best scripts and instead grab at the biggest paychecks.
Of course, he’s entirely within his rights. What’s interesting to us is that while De Niro the artist has shriveled, another creature has risen up from the murk: De Niro the political commentator. In 2012, he spoke at an exclusive Obama campaign event in New York – attended by such left-wing showbiz luminaries as Harvey Weinstein and Whoopi Goldberg – at which he put race at the heart of the matter. “Callista Gingrich. Karen Santorum. Ann Romney,” he said. “Now do you really think our country is ready for a white first lady?” It was obviously meant as a joke, but what’s the joke?
But that was nothing. In October 2016, a month or so before the presidential election, he made headlines by releasing a video in which he urged the electorate not to vote for Donald Trump. “He’s so blatantly stupid,” De Niro said, appearing to channel one of his gangster characters. “He’s a punk. He’s a dog. He’s a pig. He’s a con.” It went on – and got nastier from there. “He’s a national disaster. He’s an embarrassment to this country.” De Niro concluded by saying he’d like to punch Trump in the face.
The video was notable for its utter lack of anything resembling a serious argument. It didn’t so much as touch on a single real issue. It was pure name-calling. Days later, while in Dubai to promote investment in Antigua and Barbuda, where he was involved in a resort development (could it be that he and Trump have more in common than he realizes?), De Niro told an interviewer that Trump “does not have a clue about what goes on in the rest of the world.”
He was still at it this past January, when, standing at the lectern at the National Board of Review awards ceremony, he delivered what one news source accurately called “an expletive-filled rant” about Trump. “This f***ing idiot is the President,” De Niro said, and went on to call Trump a “f***ing fool” and “the jerkoff-in-chief.” Once again, he had nothing of substance to say about Trump. Once again, it was just name-calling – which he (quite mistakenly) appeared to consider amusing.
The other day, De Niro was back in Dubai, this time to attend the World Government Summit. He was there “to help combat climate change.” In a speech at the summit, he unfavorably compared the U.S., which he called “a backward country,” to the United Arab Emirates, which he described as “an example to the rest of the world.” Under Trump, he charged, Americans were suffering from “temporary insanity.”
Reading his remarks, one wondered who, exactly, was insane; who, exactly, was an embarrassment to his country; who, exactly, was clueless “about what goes on” in the world. There he was, praising as a role model a country that’s governed under sharia law – a country that denies its citizens many basic human rights, that carries out floggings and stonings, that restricts freedom of speech and of the press, that punishes apostasy, adultery, and homosexuality with death, that permits men to beat their wives, and that treats not rapists but rape victims as criminals.
Two pieces of advice for Robert De Niro. Go back to making good movies. And stick to the words in the script.
In July of last year, we spent a week covering the oeuvre of Ben Norton, who after only three years as a professional scribe had already compiled an extensive body of work – and made a name for himself as a high-profile fan of socialism and Islam and enemy of the U.S. and Israel.
To say he’s a fan of socialism, to be sure, is to soft-pedal his ideological allegiances. In fact he’s a full-throated defender of Communism, as witnessed by a piece he published at AlterNet on November 22. In it, he accused the Trump administration and others, including the WashingtonPost and WallStreetJournal, of marking the 100th anniversary of the Bolshevik Revolution by “demoniz[ing] communism.”
Singling out a Post article in which Marc Thiessen pointed out that “Communist regimes killed some 100 million people — roughly four times the number killed by the Nazis — making communism the most murderous ideology in human history,” Norton called the piece a “diatribe” and denounced Thiessen for “whitewashing the Nazi regime’s uniquely murderous crimes.” Because, you see, if you dare to tell the whole truth about the destructive evil of Communism, and acknowledge that Communism, in its century-long history, has indeed claimed more lives than Nazism did during its decade or so in power, you must be a Nazi sympathizer.
In his screed, Norton played the same kind of numbers game in which Holocaust deniers like to indulge. Rejecting the claim that Communist regimes had killed 100 million people, he complained that that figure included Russians killed during the Nazi invasion of the USSR. He also criticized Thiessen and others for relying on statistics from The Black Book of Communism, a solid reference work that Norton dismissed as a “propagandistic tract” – “a collection of right-wing essays published in France in 1997” – and charged with “trivializing the Holocaust.”
Of course, it’s possible to tell the whole truth about Communism without being a fan of Nazism. Evil is evil. Totalitarianism is totalitarianism. Surely the Washington Post and Wall Street Journal don’t think Hitler was peachy keen. Norton’s whole line of argument here is disingenuous – in fact, he’s the one who greatly prefers one kind of totalitarianism to the other, and who is determined not to see them placed anywhere near on the same level. He claims that The Black Book of Communism had been used “to diminish the crimes of fascism and portray it as a lesser evil compared to communism.” That admirers of one brand of tyranny can use the facts about another brand of tyranny to suit their own purposes does not mean that those facts aren’t facts.
Norton goes further: borrowing from Noam Chomsky, he serves up the suggestion that the logic of The Black Book of Communism could be used to blame capitalism for the death of tens of millions of people in India alone. He also tries to sell the notion that, because “the Soviet Union’s meticulously kept archives” show that “799,455 people were executed under the rule of Joseph Stalin between 1921 and 1953,” this number should be accepted as the sum total of lives lost as a result of Communism during the Stalin era. Forget, then, the Gulag and the Holodomor.
Norton also tries to drastically slash the number of people who died as a consequence of Mao’s tyranny, arguing that millions of them were, rather, victims of famine, and pointing out that deadly famines have been a regular part of Chinese history for centuries. In short, in addition to dropping the Gulag and Holodomor down the memory hole, Norton also deep-sixes the depredations of the so-called Cultural Revolution.
But that’s not all. Norton implies that instead of demonizing Communism, we should celebrate it – after all, it was the Soviets who experienced most of the battlefront casualties in “the fight against fascism.” Fine – the problem is that, again, they were fighting one form of totalitarianism in the name of another form of totalitarianism. He describes the USSR as having “liberated Auschwitz and Berlin.” But how can you speak of “liberation” when the people “liberated” ended up living under a fiercely illiberal dictatorship?