Another Bernie bro who’s a gulag fan

Bernie Sanders

A couple of weeks ago we met Kyle Jurek, an Iowa field organizer for the Bernie Sanders campaign who, thanks to the brilliant hidden-camera reportage of James O’Keefe’s Project Veritas, was exposed as a bloodthirsty Communist who sees the Sanders candidacy as the first step in a much-needed revolution – indeed, as the prelude to a “Reign of Terror” which he and his comrades will kick off by gunning down some of their ideological enemies and shipping others off to a Gulag.

Kyle Jurek

Of course, as we pointed out in our account of Jurek, the fact that this nutbag is a fan of totalitarianism who looks forward to putting into practice the most sanguinary lessons of Lenin and Stalin doesn’t necessarily mean that Bernie shares his views. Then again, it says something that the Sanders campaign would have a guy like this on the payroll – and it said something, too, that, after the Project Veritas exposé of Jurek, the campaign refused to comment. At this writing, there’s no indication that Jurek has been cut loose.

Martin Weissgerber

And now there’s this. Jurek, it turns out, is not unique. The other day, after releasing two mind-blowing reports on Jurek, O’Keefe put out one about another Sanders staffer – namely, one Martin Weissgerber, who works as the campaign’s South Carolina field coordinator. This guy, it turned out, made Jurek look like an amateur. “I’m a communist,” Weissgerber told Project Veritas’s hidden-camera operative, who was posing as a journalist who shared his views. Weissgerber said that after Sanders’s inauguration, the Senate, House, and judiciary should be dissolved and Sanders should assume dictatorial powers. He said that he looked forward to “send[ing] the rich to the guillotine” and that he planned to “learn how to shoot” so that he could take an active part in the coming revolution. In this connection, he praised the Soviet Union for having developed the greatest gun ever, the AK-47, “the destroyer of imperialism and colonization.”

James O’Keefe

Like Jurek, Weissgerber is a fan of the gulags, which, he said, were much more humane that they’re given credit for. They were, he claimed, “re-education camps.” Like Jurek, he wants to bring them back, and fill them with Republicans and billionaires. Indeed, Weissgerber maintained that the USSR generally has been given a bum rap. “The Soviet Union was not horrible,” he claimed. It had great “women’s rights.” It was “progressive.” Weissgerber made it clear that he’s all about “complete seizure of the means of production.”

Who is this Weissgerber? He provided his interlocutor with a bit of personal history. He studied Soviet history in college. Both his parents are Communists, too. His dad is a Belgian who “took part in Paris 1968.” His mother, Kathleen McKenna, works for WBUR, an NPR station in Boston, where she is obliged to “keep her politics to herself.”

Kathleen McKenna

Weissgerber adores Bernie. He finds only one problem with the old fella: he’s not far left enough. Still, he’s a big step in the right direction.

And what does Bernie think of Weissgerber? Valerie Richardson answered that question in The Washington Times on January 23. When Project Veritas called a Sanders field office in South Carolina to ask for a comment on the staffer’s remarks, the Sanders people phoned the North Charleston police and accused Project Veritas of harassment. A police officer then called Project Veritas and told them that the Sanders people would have no comment. “They are aware of videos you guys took, the undercover stuff,” said the cop. “It’s one of those things where they wish he hadn’t said that, but they’re still standing by him or whatever.” As for Jurek, Richardson reported that “Sanders state director Missy Rebik tweeted last week that Iowans ‘don’t care about political gossip.’” In short, the Sanders campaign is standing by both of these Communists. What more do we need to know?

As we said in our piece on Jurek, we’re not in the habit of taking sides in elections. But the Sanders outfit isn’t just another campaign. Jurek and Weissgerber are useful stooges of the first order. How many more of them are there in the ranks of Sanders’ people? If we feel obliged to help draw attention to O’Keefe’s revelations, moreover, it’s because virtually the whole mainstream media has done its best to ignore them. And if there’s one thing we know at this site, it’s that ignoring useful stooges in positions of power is never a good idea.

It’s 2020, and Maduro hasn’t gone away yet

Juan Guaidó

The early days of 2019 were a time of hope for freedom lovers in Venezuela. On January 5, Juan Guaidó, became President of the National Assembly; just a few days later, after chavista leader Nicolás Maduro was sworn in for a second term after an election that was widely viewed as suspicious, Guaidó told attendees at a huge rally that Maduro was a dictator and a usurper and that, in accordance with the Venezuelan Constitution, he, Guaidó, would assume the nation’s presidency and, as he wrote shortly thereafter in a Washington Post op-ed, “restore democracy in Venezuela.”

Nicolas Maduro

Things looked promising. On January 23, Guaidó declared himself president. He was quickly recognized as such by the U.S., Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Guatemala, Honduras, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, and the Organization of American States, as well as by sixty-odd other countries around the world. It was hoped that the Venezuelan military would act in accordance with the wishes of democratic-minded Venezuelans and of international supporters of liberty by compelling Maduro to step down and hand over power to Guaidó.

Trump meets with Guiado’s wife, Fabiana Rosales, in March 2019

Alas, one country in the Western hemisphere was conspicuously missing from that list of Guaidó’s supporters: Cuba, of course. And thanks to Cuba, it proved harder to oust Maduro than some observers – and Guaidó himself – expected. For Maduro, it turned out, was not as dumb as he looks. During his presidency, the highest ranking officers in the Venezuelan military had been collaborating closely with Cuban officials who had been sent by the Castro regime and stationed in Venezuela to participate in an effort – a successful one, alas – to ruthlessly purge Maduro’s armed forces of anyone who was suspected of anything but total loyalty to the regime. So it was that the military on which Guaidó had counted for support did everything it could to prop up Maduro.

Code Pink embassy protesters

Meanwhile, allies of Maduro in the U.S. were doing everything they could to prevent democracy from coming to Venezuela. In the spring, the Venezuelan embassy in Washington, D.C., was occupied by members of Code Pink and other radical-left groups that, in the wake of the Trump administration’s recognition of Guaidó as the legitimate president of Venezuela, sought to keep any diplomats appointed by Guaidó out of the embassy. This spectacle, played out on the leafy streets of Georgetown, was a disgraceful example of free people using their own freedom to help deny freedom to others.

Guaido tries to get to the Assembly by going over a fence

It was all quite dispiriting. With Maduro in firm control of the military – not to mention the apparatus of government, the judiciary, and the police – the only significant body that stood up against the power of the regime was the legislature, the National Assembly, of which Guaidó continued to serve as president. Only five days into 2020, Maduro made his move to squelch that last outpost of opposition. On his orders, as NPR’s Scott Neuman reported, Venezuelan National Guardsmen “in riot gear” physically prevented Guaidó and other anti-Maduro legislators from attending a special session of the Assembly, where the plan for the day was to elect a new Assembly president. Since Guaidó’s allies make up a majority of the Assembly, it was expected that he would be expeditiously re-elected to that post. Instead, he ended up in what Neuman described as a “scuffle” with Maduro’s thugs and walked away with his suit torn. With him and his allies missing from the conclave, the supporters of Maduro who were allowed to enter the chamber swore in one of their own, Luis Parra, as their new leader. Later the same day, however, members of the anti-Maduro parliamentary majority, meeting at the offices of the opposition newspaper El Nacional, overturned that outrageous action – which, Neuman noted, had been taken without a formal vote – and re-elected Guaidó.

“Sunday’s events,” wrote Neuman, “leave open the question of who controls the legislature, and the fight for control is likely to continue.” And needless to say it does not look as if the larger question – that of who controls Venezuela itself – will be settled anytime soon, either.

Exposed: A Sanders staffer’s dreams of terror

Bernie Sanders

We don’t see it as part of our mission on this site to take sides in American presidential races. But since our whole raison d’être is to call out the fans of totalitarianism, it’s impossible, in the year 2020, to close our eyes to a campaign in which one of the more successful major-party candidates is a self-identified socialist – a man who, for heaven’s sake, actually honeymooned in the Soviet Union and has expressed admiration for the Castro regime in Cuba. To some people who would never vote for him in a million years, Bernie Sanders may seem an innocuous enough figure – like a crazy but lovable grandpa who caught the “progressive” bug in his youth and whose one pleasure, in his dotage, is to rant about capitalism. To his unsettlingly large number of supporters, however, Sanders – who until running for the Democratic nomination was not a registered Democrat but an independent socialist – is a breath of fresh air, an outsider who, like Trump in the 2016 campaign, challenges the two-party system and promises to shake up the status quo. Moreover, it’s not just young people, born after the fall of the Soviet Union and taught by left-wing professors to despise America and admire socialism, who plan to cast their votes for Bernie: only recently, we were dismayed to see the actor and comedian Larry David, who is famous not only for creating Seinfeld and Curb Your Enthusiasm but also for playing Sanders (brilliantly) in skits on Saturday Night Live, telling an interviewer that he admires Bernie and that America would be a lot better off with him as president. We thought David – who is no spring chicken – was smarter than that.

James O’Keefe

Is there any chance that a significant number of Bernie’s fans will peel off after they see the sensational video that was released on January 14 by James O’Keefe’s Project Veritas? O’Keefe and his team specialize in hidden-camera exposés of teachers’ unions, media organizations, groups like ACORN and Planned Parenthood, and, not least, political campaigns. In one instance after another, they have shed light on the actual – which is to say, often shabby, corrupt, and reprehensible – agendas behind the anodyne public rhetoric. In the case of the Sanders campaign, they captured on camera Kyle Jurek, an Iowa field organizer for Sanders, calling Trump supporters fascists and saying that “The only thing that fascists understand is violence. So the only way you can confront them is with violence.” If Trump gets reelected, Jurek said, cities will “burn,” because “we have to save f***ing human civilization.” If Bernie doesn’t get nominated at the Democratic National Convention in Milwaukee, Jurek promised, he and his cronies will beat up police, because “we” will have “nothing left to lose.”

Kyle Jurek

And if Sanders is elected? Jurek promised a “Reign of Terror.” Even leftist MSNBC isn’t leftist enough for him: he spoke enthusiastically of dragging MSNBC journalists out of their studios and “light[ing] them on fire in the streets.” Mere liberals, he promised, will be sent to a “Gulag”; they’ll “get the f***ing wall first.” Meaning, of course, that they will be lined up against a wall and gunned down, Che Guevara style. “In Cuba, what did they do to reactionaries?” he asked. “They shot them on the beach. Do you want to fight against the revolution? You’re gonna die for it, mother***er.” In a commentary at the end of this explosive video, O’Keefe asked: “Is Kyle Jurek the true but hidden face of the Sanders campaign?” He added that this was only the first of multiple videos about Jurek that Project Veritas would be releasing, and that those to come would be even worse.

Scene from an Antifa riot

Does Sanders share Jurek’s views and aspirations? Well, of course Sanders has never promised a “Reign of Terror.” Then again, he’s expressed fondness for regimes that have engaged in reigns of terror. In any case, one thing is certain: Jurek is not alone. Others who have lined up behind Bernie share Jurek’s extreme politics. And of course the promise of violence is not just talk: groups like Antifa, which are pretty much on the same page politically as Jurek, have staged riots around the U.S., causing physical harm to their political opponents and serious damage to private property. They are cut from the same cloth as the Bolsheviks who murdered the Romanovs, filled the Gulags, and carried out the Holodomor; cut from the same cloth as the Maoists who staged the Cultural Revolution in China; cut from the same cloth as the SS and Gestapo officers who herded Jews onto trains to Auschwitz. The thirst for terror, violence, and tyrannical power never dies; the price of freedom is, as ever, eternal vigilance against aspiring Stalins, Castros, and Che Guevaras. Kudos to Project Veritas for showing us that one of these aspiring Ches can be found performing a not inconsiderable job within a major presidential campaign.

Another Teflon Communist

Its one thing for political naïfs to condemn capitalism and celebrate Communism, but it’s another for reputable media to publish their nonsense.

Andray Domise

Recently, Macleans – Canada’s leading newsmagazine – actually published a column headlined “The left must stand against capitalism. Now.” The author, Andray Domise, began by explaining that an environmental activist had recently asked him to recommend books about working-class rights, decolonization, and other issues. Domise suggested The Communist Manifesto. The activist, however, did not respond with enthusiasm. This bugged Domise, who saw it as typical of many members of the left, who, alas, “cannot quit kidding themselves by believing that capitalism exists as a benevolent or even neutral social arrangement.”

Marx and Engels

His argument was that if the left wants to triumph, it “must stand in principled opposition to capitalism.” As far as Domise is concerned, capitalism is at the root of pretty much every problem on earth: capitalists “pollute oceans with plastic, fill the air with smog and accelerate climate change via carbon emissions.” They warp environmental policies “to the point of immorality.” They make housing unaffordable. They cause income inequality to increase. They have no concern for working-class people. How to put an end to it? Only through “organized, large-scale resistance” to the “capricious free market.” Fortunately, maintained Domise, “58 per cent of Canadians have a favourable view of socialism,” which bodes well toward the possibility of encouraging them to “expand” their “political vision…beyond capitalism” by embracing Communism wholesale.

And that was pretty much all he had to say. Bottom line: one more fool who’s willing to drop the entire bloody history of the twentieth century down the memory hole, turn his gaze away from the nightmares that are today’s Venezuela and North Korea, and plunge right back into the maelstrom.

2014 campaign poster

Who is Andray Domise? Well, for one thing, he was arrested in 2016 and charged with one count of mischief and three counts of domestic assault, all of them involving alleged physical abuse of his then girlfriend. An article about the case, which was settled out of court, described Domise as a “darling of the progressive scene in Toronto” who, despite a reputation as a stalwart supporter of feminism, “is known to have harassed and attacked feminists online for years, particularly those who speak out against male violence, misogyny, pornography, objectification, and the sex industry.” The response of Macleans to this courtroom episode was to suspend Domise’s column for a week.

Another commentator on Domise’s brush with the law described him as a “self-celebrating prat” (British and Canadian for “idiot”) whose “self-promotion drive” had ended up in a “ditch” as a result of his arrest. The commentator provided some info on Domise’s background: born Andre, Domise “switched to the more Caribana-inflected ‘Andray’ when he realized that ‘Andre’ comes with all sorts of inferences, none of them flattering.” When he ran for a Toronto city council seat, he served up a “fable about being raised in poverty” by a “single mother in a social housing complex”; in fact, his mother divorced and remarried and the family moved to West Palm Beach, and shortly after their relocation to Toronto Domise was a university student. As for his arrest, both Macleans and The Toronto Star knew about it at the time, but kept mum; not until months later did the National Post find out and break the news.

So it goes. Another day, another shameless apologist for the evils of Marxism being protected by his leftist media cronies – even when it becomes clear to everyone that he’s the very opposite of the pillar of honesty and virtue that he pretends to be.

The stripper was a Stalinist

Ludwig von Mises

An article that was recently posted at the website mises.org, named for and dedicated to the intellectual legacy of Ludwig von Mises, the Austrian School economist (1881-1973) pointed out that people in showbiz – actors, producers, screenwriters, playwrights – who make a great living and whom you might therefore expect to have some appreciation for capitalism turn out, all too often, to have bought into the lies of socialism – or worse: “Hollywood and Broadway, the world-famous centers of the entertainment industry, are hotbeds of communism. Authors and performers are to be found among the most bigoted supporters of Sovietism.

Sovietism? When was this written? And who wrote it? In fact, although the author’s observations are perfectly valid today, this article was written by Mises himself – it’s an excerpt from his 1956 book The Anti-Capitalist Mentality, published at the height of the Hollywood blacklist.

Joe McCarthy

Today it’s the received opinion that the interrogation of famous movie people by House and Senate committees was a disgrace; the name of Joe McCarthy, the Democrat from Wisconsin who chaired the Senate committee, has become a byword for fascist tyranny. Yes, it was decidedly unfair that a few Tinseltown innocents who thought they were standing up for the First Amendment got dragged onto the blacklist and had their careers damaged. But the fact is that there were Communists in Hollywood; every last one of the Hollywood Ten, a group of screenwriters who were cited for contempt of Congress, was in fact a card-carrying Communist.

Mr and Mrs Dalton Trumbo

They are now viewed as heroes – witness (among many other cinematic tributes to them) the movie Trumbo, about which we wrote some time back. But as members of the Communist Party, which took its orders directly from the Kremlin, they were agents of a totalitarian enemy and tools of a mass-murdering dictator, Stalin, who was very consciously using them to influence American opinion about the USSR and thereby undermine American freedom.

Why were – and are – so many showbiz people Communists? Mises’s theory was that those who toil in the entertainment industry are “always agitated by anxiety,” fearing the fickleness of the audience and worrying that they will soon be dislodged from their thrones by vigorous young competitors; hence they turn to Communism, which, they think, “will bring their deliverance” because it “makes all people happy.” Mises added that “ a future historian…should not neglect to mention the role which the world’s most famous strip-tease artist played in the American radical movement.”

Gypsy Rose Lee

The world’s most famous strip-tease artist? In 1956, Mises could only have meant one person: Gypsy Rose Lee. Was she a Communist too? That was a new one on us: like most people nowadays, our knowledge of Lee is pretty much limited to the biographical information communicated in Gypsy, the first-rate Broadway musical that follows her from girlhood – when she was overshadowed by her sister, June, a child star in vaudeville, and largely ignored by their mother, Rose, the quintessential stage mother from hell – to the threshold of burlesque stardom. There was no hint of Communist ties in Gypsy.

Elaine Stritch performing “Zip”

But sure enough, it turns out that Gypsy Rose Lee was indeed a Red. In interview with Publishers Weekly, Karen Abbott, whose biography of the stripper came out in 2011, said that “Gypsy soon learned that every stripper needed a gimmick and decided to incorporate her exceptional intelligence into her act, to become the ‘intellectual stripper.’ To that end. she read the latest books, magazines, and newspapers voraciously.” Well, we happen to know that because of the lyrics of the Rodgers and Hart song “Zip” (from the 1940 musical Pal Joey), which parodies Rose’s intellectual pretensions. Anyway, Abbott continues: “She became politically active, and supported Spanish Loyalists during Spain’s Civil War. She also became a fixture at Communist United Front meetings, and was investigated by the House Committee on un-American activities.”

Josef Stalin

Curiously, a previous biographer of Lee, Noralee Frankel, seems to deny that Lee was a Communist; a review of Frankel’s book, which came out in 2009, refers to Lee as having “convinced the McCarthyites that her having supported Spanish loyalists against Franco in the 1930s and entertained at the New York Council of the Arts, Sciences and Professions did not make her a communist.” There is no mention in the review, or presumably in the book, of her being a regular attendee of Communist meetings, which, of course, does seem to make her a Communist. Which shouldn’t have surprised us, aware as we are of how many showbiz folk in the 1950s were puppets of Stalin, but somehow it never occurred to us that the highbrow ecdysiast, whom Larry Hart’s lyric depicts as a reader of Saroyan and Schopenhauer, was also a fan of Stalin.

Will Owen Jones ever get it?

As we noted back in April, Owen Jones, perhaps the best known leftist commentator in Britain, “still looks like a high-school kid” even though he’s 34. Maybe it’s because his brow hasn’t been furrowed by deep thoughts. Although he is considered highly influential, it’s impossible, we wrote, to grasp why “anyone, anywhere, could possibly be influenced by him.”

Owen Jones

But there he is, this Oxford grad who is the son and grandson of Communists, constantly pontificating in the pages of the Guardian and all over British TV, endlessly reiterating his one-dimensional, ideologically lockstep message that “capitalism is a sham” and “socialism is our only hope.” He is constantly condemning Islamophobia, which he has called “a European pandemic” and “the most widespread…form of bigotry of our times,” but won’t breathe a word in criticism of Islam or in acknowledgment of the ongoing worldwide oppression of Christians Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, women, gays, and others in the name of Allah.

A gay man, Jones is eternally on the lookout for the slightest hint of right-wing homophobia, but simply refuses to talk about the fact that sharia law orders the execution of gays. Appearing on Sky News after the June 12, 2016, jihadist massacre at the gay Pulse nightclub in Orlando, he was mainly concerned with shutting down any mention by his host and fellow panelist of the atrocity’s Islamic roots, and when they refused to be silenced, he walked off in a now-famous huff.

Jeremy Corbyn

Jones was also a devout fan of Hugo Chávez and Fidel Castro. And – oh, yes – he’s an ardent follower of Jeremy Corbyn, the anti-Semite who led the Labour Party to a historic defeat in the UK’s December 12 parliamentary elections. In the hours after the loss, Jones tweeted that voters had abandoned Labour because of its wishy-washy position. A few days later, in his post-election column, Jones presented a longer list of reasons for the loss, citing a series of misguided strategies and tactics. This supposedly influential voice of the left had utterly failed to recognize that the problem was a pure matter of ideology: the sometime reformist party of the working class had, quite simply, been taken over by radical elites who live in a north London bubble, who look down on the proles, and who love the idea of socialism even though they’ve never, of course, lived in a socialist country or seriously studied the subject.

British PM Boris Johnson

And Jones is one of them. Which is the only reason any of these people read him and take him seriously: because he shares, and affirms, their own shallow, puerile worldview. “I don’t think anyone on the left should regret our enthusiasm for the transformative programme on offer,” Jones wrote in his column. “These are the right policies for the country and the planet, and a bad campaign hasn’t changed that.” While Labour, he asserted, needed to win back elderly voters, it must not give up “the progressive social values that are articles of faith to its young supporters.” Which is to say the hip, privileged, urban young, many of whom have never had a job, run a business, or paid income taxes, and who have embraced a certain set of political propositions not because they know anything about the actual lessons of modern history and economics but because adherence to those propositions is de rigueur in their social circle.

Britain’s high-culture Corbynistas

How could the Tories have won such a massive victory in the British parliamentary elections? After all, the Labour Party was headed by a man who speaks of Hamas and Hezbollah as “friends”; who has praised Hugo Chavez and his successor as president of Venezuela, Nicolas Maduro; who is a longtime admirer of the Communist regime in Cuba; who is an ardent supporter of the Palestinian cause; and who is widely viewed as a dyed-in-the-wool anti-Semite.

Jeremy Corbyn

Most sensible observers considered the mass defection of working-class voters from Labour – resulting in that party’s worst showing in an election since the 1930s – a thumbs-up for democracy and patriotism and a rejection of the far left. Not everybody cheered Jeremy Corbyn’s loss, however. In a post-election letter released by a group called the People’s Campaign for Corbyn, over 100 members of Britain’s artistic community, some of them quite high-profile, paid tribute to Corbyn, praising him for his “humanity, courage and insight” and for “raising political awareness in our country to a level not seen since the end of World War II.”

Ken Loach

Among the signers of the letter was film director Ken Loach, who, as we noted earlier this year, “has belonged to the Workers Revolutionary Party, the Socialist Workers Party, and the International Marxist Group, has been involved with Jeremy Corbyn and with the bilious Jew-hater George Galloway, has campaigned for a number of boycotts of Israel, and has condemned efforts to address anti-Semitism in the Labour Party.” In 2002, when 11 directors from around the world were asked to contribute a segment to a film, 11’09″01 September 11, about the reactions to the 9/11 atrocities in their own countries, Loach chose to diminish the jihadist attacks by focusing on another September 11 – namely, the US-backed Chilean coup of September 11, 1973, in which the Communist-allied Salvador Allende was ousted and replaced by Augusto Pinochet.

Brian Eno

Another signatory was musician Brian Eno, who has a long record of criticizing Israel and whose 1978 song “RAF,” as we noted in 2016, “incorporates ‘sound elements from a Baader Meinhof ransom message made by public telephone at the time of the Lufthansa Flight 181 hijacking.’”

Among the other signers: Nigel Kennedy, a violinist whose onstage image has been compared to that of Liberace and who condemned Israel during an appearance on a BBC Proms broadcast in 2013; Alexei Sayle, a standup comic who, after joining the pro-Soviet Young Communist League in his teens, decided that the USSR was “going soft” and thus switched to Maoism and the Chinese Cultural Revolution, and, at 67, still says he holds to the politics of his youth; and John Rees, a leader of the Stop the War Coalition and of Respect, who at the time of the Iraq War called on his fellow socialists to “unconditionally stand with the oppressed against the oppressor, even if the people who run the oppressed country are undemocratic and persecute minorities, like Saddam Hussein.” In other words, Saddam, apparently by virtue of being a person of color and an enemy of the West, counted as an oppressed person, even if he was, in fact, one of the world’s most notorious oppressors.

Saddam Hussein, victim of oppression

Such is the kind of thinking that goes on in the heads of those who lined up to declare their solidarity with Jeremy Corbyn. As unsettling as it is to know that there are so many people with such ideologies in roles of cultural power in the UK, it is comforting to know that ordinary UK citizens, in overwhelming numbers, recognized these views as totalitarian and un-British and rejected them decisively on December 12.

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.

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.

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.