Chavismo: one man’s story

Over the last few years we’ve covered the steady descent of socialist Venezuela into the maelstrom. What more is there to say? Well, there used to be an old anthology TV series set in New York City. It was called Naked City, and every episode ended with a voice intoning: “there are eight million stories in the naked city. This has been one of them.”

Dining al fresco in Caracas

Well, there are 28 million stories in Venezuela. One of them is that of a fellow named Christian K. Caruzo, who recounted his own experiences recently at the Breitbart website under the headline “My Socialist Hell: 20 Years of Decay in Venezuela.” “Hell”? “Decay”? Is he exaggerating? In his opening sentences he also uses the word “tragedy.” And he sums up the country’s current conditions in the bleakest of terms: “toilet paper shortages, desperate people scavenging through garbage to find food for their families, bread lines, a systemic failure of our public utilities, dogs flayed in broad daylight for meat, corruption, lack of proper medicine and health access, weighing stacks of cash, and so much more.” Its all true, he says, and it’s all “a product of 20 years of socialism.”

Hugo in his heyday

Eleven years old when Hugo Chávez took power, Caruzo has spent his adult life under chavismo. Chávez, he writes, turned Venezuela into a country where “you’re no longer a citizen — you’re merely a survivor.” A country where he’s “a lesser version of what I could’ve been.” A country where you stand in line for bread and where you barter for the meds you need. “Socialism,” he writes, “has slowly eroded the functional existence of every aspect of our lives, from our freedom of speech to our economic liberties, our access to healthcare and personal documents to our water supply.” Yes, the same socialism that, thanks to disinformation by media and faculty ideologues, has millions of young American fans.

Caruzo recalls how, around the year 2007, Chávez’s title morphed from “President” to “Commander-President”; and how, after the caudillo’s death, he officially came to be known as “Supreme and Eternal Commander of the Bolivarian Revolution.” Today, Chávez is a semi-divine figure. Reruns of his old TV show are still broadcast and are treated as “gospel.”

Nicolas Maduro

Meanwhile, Chávez’s successor Nicolas Maduro has introduced something called the “Fatherland Card” program, which was created with the help of Communist Chinese experts and based on China’s own “Social Credit System.” The program employs a massive database containing detailed personal data about Venezuela’s citizens, and the idea is that unless your personal record is perfect by chavista standards you’ll be denied access to job bonuses, welfare benefits, medicines, and the like.

Venezuelan refugees pouring into Colombia

In Venezuela, even as you’re forced to endure shortages of almost everything, you’re being fed massive doses of propaganda telling you that the system that’s starving you is, in fact, saving you, and that what they’re saving you from is American-style capitalism – which, of course, is exactly what is needed to turn your grinding deprivation into prosperity and your oppression into liberty. It’s pure Orwell, of course – war is peace, freedom is slavery, ignorance is strength.

John Cusack, antisemite

John Cusack

Now 53, John Cusack has been a well-known film actor since he was a teenager. He’s starred in dozens of big pictures, including Grosse Point Blank, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, Pushing Tin, High Fidelity, Runaway Jury, 1408, and The Butler.

But like many of the other actors we’ve discussed on this site, he’s also politically active. A member of the Democratic Socialists of America, he supported the presidential candidacy of Bernie Sanders in 2016 and backs him in the current presidential contest as well.

Philip Berrigan

He didn’t pick up the activist stuff in Hollywood; he was raised on it. His parents were political activists too; he has described himself as having grown up with Philip and Daniel Berrigan, the radical Roman Catholic clerics the latter of whom had the distinction of being the first priest on the FBI’s “most wanted” list and ended up behind bars. Cusack has spoken of them in such a way as to suggest that they were role models for him.

Cusack shares his views regularly on Twitter. He is not known, shall we say, for his subtlety of thought and expression. In 2017 he tweeted a photo of President Trump alongside the quote “YER DEAD – GET YERSELF BURIED.” When it caused something of a controversy, he took it down.

Then, a couple of months ago, he retweeted an image of a giant hand crushing a bunch of people; on the shirtsleeve from which the giant hand protruded was a Star of David. Accompanying this Der Stürmer-type image was the following quotation, which was attributed to Voltaire: “To learn who rules over you, simply find out who you are not allowed to criticize.” Cusack supplemented the quotation with his own comment: “Follow the money.”

The point was clear: Jews run the world. Jews are all about money. Jews are crushing the rest of us. The tweet could hardly have been more stunningly antisemitic. Add to that the fact that the line he quoted about “find[ing] out who you are not allowed to criticize” was a statement not by Voltaire but by an American neo-Nazi named Kevin Alfred Strom.

Elad Nehorai

When he was widely denounced for this breathtakingly obscene tweet, Cusack doubled down. “You think Israel isn’t commuting [sic] atrocities against Palestinians?” he wrote. “What planet are you on?” Eventually, however, the criticism got to be too much. At first, bizarrely, and pusillanimously, Cusack blamed his retweet on a bot. “How,” wondered Jewish writer Elad Nehorai, “does a bot get you to write ‘follow the money’ after sharing an overtly anti-Semitic image?” Eventually Cusack owned up to having posted the retweet and issued a wimpy sort-of-apology that only served to prove that he really isn’t terribly sharp. That apology was so lame that he then issued another apology, which also was lame. The response from David Baddiel, a Jewish comedian in the UK, was succinct and right on the mark: “John Cusack says he didn’t at first realise that the image was anti-Semitic. My, it’s a troublesome old blind spot for progressives, isn’t it?”

Judy Bolton-Fasman at the Wailing Wall

Meanwhile, in a Boston Jewish publication, a woman named Judy Bolton-Fasman posted an open letter to Cusack. Confessing to having had a crush on him in the 1990s, she said that while she too was a critic of some Israeli actions, “it must be said that Israeli citizens have died in Palestinian suicide bombings on buses, in malls and cafes just because they were Jews. There are frequent rocket attacks out of Gaza.” She asked him: “Have you been to Israel?….I’m not happy about walling off the West Bank where it divides neighborhoods and families. However, Israelis call it a security barrier with good reason. Even the most dovish Israeli will tell you the barrier has drastically reduced the number of terror attacks in Israel proper.” She added that she had “met incredible Israelis and Palestinians who are dedicated to achieving peace” and encouraged him to travel to Israel and meet them instead of just demonizing Jews. Good advice. But since the politics of a man like Cusack have less to do with the real world than with blind, stubborn ideological devotion, Ms. Bolton-Fasman is likely whistling in the wind.

Snowflake warriors

A decade or two ago, few would have paid attention to any event held by the Democratic Socialists of America. For almost nobody took socialism seriously. People remembered the USSR; they remembered the captive countries of Eastern Europe; they remembered the Gulag; and the memories were not pretty ones.

Howard Zinn

But America has changed. Memories of the grim reality of twentieth-century socialism have faded, and the old utopian dreams have made a resurgence. In 2019, in many circles, being a socialist is sexy. Young people who were born after the fall of the Iron Curtain are especially susceptible to its dubious charms. No surprise there: a huge percentage of them have learned their “history” from A People’s History of the United States, a patchwork of anti-American slurs by Howard Zinn, a card-carrying Communist, that is the most frequently assigned textbook in that field. Bernie Sanders’s promises of free this and free that during his campaigns for the 2016 and 2020 Democratic presidential nomination brought him millions of followers who have been convinced that capitalism is a nasty, brutal, and heartlessly exploitative system while socialism is the political equivalent of unicorns and rainbows. A poll released in June showed that no fewer than forty percent of Americans prefer socialism to capitalism, and a majority of women aged 18 to 54 – the exact figure was 55% – said they would rather live under socialism than under the present American system.

So it is that when socialists get together nowadays, people listen. But what exactly are they listening to? On August 2-4, the Democratic Socialists of America held their annual convention. Writing in the Spectator, Will Lloyd provided the following summing-up:

How to give you a flavor of the event? Well, note the rules the convention followed:

Quiet rooms available for all attendees – but no aggressive scents in those rooms!

Use the proper doors and exits – no short cuts from the hall!

Wear proper credentials at all times – right-wing infiltrators might be trying to get in!

Try to be chill – take a deep breath!

Don’t talk to anybody – especially if they don’t have credentials!

Don’t talk to anybody from the press!

Don’t talk to the cops for any reason at all!

Please don’t clap – some comrades have sensitive hearing!

Warren Beatty in Reds

Warren Beatty’s 1981 movie Reds, the epic account of the involvement of American socialist John Reed in the founding of the Soviet Union, portrayed Communist Party meetings, both in the U.S. and Russia, at which actual revolutionaries – some of them highly articulate intellectuals, others tough-as-leather labor-union types – fiercely debated strategies and tactics. Whatever their foibles, many of the real-life men and women depicted in those scenes were selflessly (if naively) devoted to their shared ideology, and had no way of realizing just how tragic the ultimate consequences of that ideology would be.

To watch videos of this year’s DSA convention is to view something entirely different. This was a get-together of trust-fund babies – privileged, cartoonishly self-absorbed brats who were born in the wake of a century of horrors spawned by socialism but who have embraced that ideology nonetheless because, in their spectacular historical ignorance and all-around naivete, they think America under a socialist government would allow them to spend their entire lives enjoying the same kind of total dependence they have enjoyed as children. Whereas Lenin, Trotsky, and their crew were scrappy sons of bitches, the DSA whippersnappers are very much of their own generation: they pose as combatants who are ready to take up arms against the USA – veritable Navy SEALs for the socialist cause! – but in fact (as illustrated by those rules about “aggressive scents” and “sensitive hearing”) they’re a flock of lambs, Gen Z snowflakes preoccupied with such contemporary no-no’s as misgendering and microaggressions.

AOC

The whole thing came off like a parody, starting with the silliness of them all calling one another “comrade.” At one point some beta male from Sacramento stands up in the audience and says “guys, can we please keep the chatter to a minimum” because “I’m…prone to sensory overload”; then, because Mr. Sacramento said “guys,” another would-be warrior rises to complain about his “gendered language.” Somehow we have the feeling these kids aren’t going to be running the country any time soon. But excessive sanguinity in the face of this foolishness is inadvisable: as the presence in the House of Representatives of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and other young socialists has demonstrated, a handful of aggressive young people of this ilk can shift the center of the Democratic Party considerably leftward. So we shouldn’t be too dismissive about the destructive socioeconomic potential of these puerile puppy dogs.

Samuel L. Jackson, Twitter militant

Samuel L. Jackson

We have to admit that we misinterpreted the headline 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 plantation owner.

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.

Stokely Carmichael

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 told People magazine in 2008. “We were buying guns, getting ready for armed struggle.”

H. Rap Brown

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 profiled 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 interviews.

Back in 2012, for example, he told Politico 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?’”

Too black, or not black enough?

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.”

P.T. Barnum?

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.”

Lying Fratboy?

People with a connection to Trump have also incurred Jackson’s wrath. During the Brett Kavanaugh hearings, Jackson tweeted 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 Thomas.

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.

Kamala’s Castroite conquest

Sen. Kamala Harris

In the view of CNN, the news amounted to a triumph for Kamala Harris. In an “analysis” posted on February 14, Nia-Malika Henderson, the news network’s Senior Political Reporter, said that the just-announced endorsement of the first-term California senator by Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-CA) was the presidential candidate’s “biggest endorsement to date” and represented “an undeniable boost.” Lee, noted Henderson, had not only thrown her support to Harris but also agreed to co-chair her California campaign.

Rep. Barbara Lee

To underscore the importance of Lee’s backing, Henderson described Lee as an “all-around anti-war and social justice activist star” and “progressive icon” and observed that she “has been called ‘the House’s lefty conscience.’” She was, Henderson pointed out, “the only member of Congress to vote against authorization for the use of force in the days after 9/11.” By teaming up with Harris, Lee was helping the senator to “burnish her progressive credentials.” Moreover, Lee’s announcement “might also foreshadow a show of force” by other “progressive stalwarts” such as Maxine Waters.

The tone of Henderson’s “analysis” of the Lee endorsement was not unique. Other mainstream news media also depicted it as a great leap forward for Harris, and described Lee in similarly glowing terms.

What Henderson omitted, and what many other media reports also chose not to mention, was the – shall we say – complex reality behind the carefully cultivated image of Lee as “icon” and “conscience” and “star.”

Armed Black Panthers at the State Capitol in Sacramento on May 2, 1967

For one thing, this is a woman who began her career as a member of the Black Panthers – and who, as recently as 2017, supported the use of funds from the National Park Services (NPS) budget to pay tribute to the Panthers’ memory with something called the Black Panther Party Research, Interpretation & Memory Project. When the NPS decided not to spend its resources on the project, Lee issued a livid statement that described the Black Panther Party – that violent group of murderous revolutionary thugs – as “an integral part of the civil rights movement.”

Judge Richard Goldstone

Lee also voted against condemning the so-called Goldstone Report, that scandalous United Nations document that whitewashed Palestinian terrorism while falsely accusing the Israeli Defense Forces of deliberately targeting Arab civilians. Even the report’s lead author, South African judge Richard Goldstone, ultimately withdrew his imprimatur from it – but not Lee.

Perhaps most appalling, Lee has been a stalwart supporter of the Cuban Communist regime and was personally chummy with Fidel Castro. Over the years, she visited Cuba more than twenty times and met with Fidel on eight of those occasions.

The now infamous picture of Elian Gonzales being removed by U.S. federal agents from the home of his Miami relatives on April 22, 2000, so that he could be retuned to Cuba.

It was Lee who played the key role in the reprehensible return to Cuba, in the year 2000, of six-year-old Elian Gonzales, whose mother had perished at sea in her effort to bring him to freedom in the U.S.

The San Francisco Chronicle reported in 2014 on a 2009 memo by Fidel documenting a five-hour meeting at his Havana home with Lee, who was there to serve as a liaison with the new Obama administration.

“We need to stop and pause and mourn his loss.”

When Fidel died in November 2016, Lee said that she was “very sad for the Cuban people” and claimed that Fidel had brought “social improvements” to the island. Yes, she admitted, Cubans had experienced hard times, but Lee put a bright face on them: gasoline rationing forced them to ride bikes, and that brought down “their rates of diabetes and high blood pressure.” Calling Fidel “a smart man” and a “historian,” Lee said: “We need to stop and pause and mourn his loss.”

But that wasn’t all: when then President-elect Trump issued a statement calling Castro “a brutal dictator” whose “legacy” was “one of firing squads, theft, unimaginable suffering, poverty and the denial of fundamental human rights,” Lee lit into him, saying his comments on Castro were “not presidential at all….This not how you react as a world leader.”

This, then, is the “icon” who has now joined up with the presidential campaign of Kamala Harris. Make of that development what you will.

Yvette Felarca, anti-fascist heroine?

Yvette Felarca

Doubtless, from one perspective, we have devoted more attention to Yvette Felarca on this site than she deserves. She’s just one local activist, after all, who’s far from an international figure or a woman of great power. Nonetheless, she is the near-perfect example of a certain type that is a preoccupation of this blog: an almost thoroughly clueless tool, brainwashed to a fare-thee-well by totalitarian ideology and driven to violence by her utter fanaticism.

Felarca in action

As we’ve explained before, Felarca is a teacher at a Berkeley, California, middle school. She is also a leading member of BAMN, short for “The Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action, Integration & Immigrant Rights, and Fight for Equality By Any Means Necessary,” founded in 1995 as a front group for a Trotskyist party called the Revolutionary Workers League. Based in California, BAMN has participated in actions that range from blocking highway traffic to outright acts of violence; it was a gang of BAMN thugs that, in February 2017, stirred up the ruckus that prevented Milo Yiannopoulos from giving a presentation at UC Berkeley. Both the FBI and the Defense Department consider BAMN a terrorist group. As for Felarca, she is a diehard true believer who considers any critic or opponent a genocidal Nazi and who seems capable of committing any atrocity in cold blood in the name of the Communist cause.

Milo Yiannopoulos: genocidal Nazi?

Over the years, Felarca has run up quite a record. In 2016 she led a demonstration in Sacramento that has been described in some media as a rally and in others as a riot. When her pupils’ parents got wind of her extracurricular activities, they tried to get her fired. But it takes more than that for the public school system in the city widely known as “Berserkeley” to dismiss a teacher. “We don’t have any authority or business to judge what an employee does in her off time,” a spokesman for the Berkeley Unified School District told the media before sending her back into the classroom. Next thing you know, there she was closing down the Milo event, ordering around a bunch of hoods who broke windows, threw fireworks and Molotov cocktails, and beat innocent citizens with fists and poles.

After the Milo fracas, Felarca was arrested, and gave an interview to Tucker Carlson in which it became utterly clear to viewers just what a fanatic she is. Still, she kept her job.

Delusions of grandeur: Trump’s most famous enemy?

On this past December 19 came the latest update on Felarca’s radical journey. As it happens, her antics in Sacramento in 2016 resulted in charges of felony assault and misdemeanor inciting a riot. Now described as an associate not only of BAMN but also of Antifa – of course she is the sort of woman who makes sure to keep up with progress on the “progressive” front – Felarca has finally had to answer in court for her behavior on that day. In a vain attempt to get the charges against her dismissed, she has accused her accusers of engineering a “political witch hunt,” suggested that the video evidence against her was fabricated, argued that her prosecution is motivated by racism and by politics, and claimed that she has been victimized because she’s “the most publicly known opponent of Donald Trump in the state of California.”

Mark Reichel

These arguments, alas, haven’t saved her from a judicial reckoning. “Two judges so far have failed to dismiss the case against her stemming from the 2016 riot,” reported the Daily Caller, “and in October, a judge dismissed her lawsuit meant to block conservative watchdog group Judicial Watch from obtaining emails regarding her involvement with both Antifa and BAMN.” She was scheduled for a hearing on December 18, but the judge delayed it until this coming January 22. Irked at the judge for not simply dismissing the charges against Felarca, Mark Reichel, a prominent attorney who is representing one of Felarca’s Antifa/BAMN cohorts, accused the Sacramento County district attorney of “selectively prosecuting people that fought fascists.” Reichel actually added: “We used to call them heroes in World War II.” Yes, you read that correctly: he was comparing Felarca, a savage Commie nut of the first water, to the Allied soldiers who risked their lives to defeat the Third Reich.

This is the way these people think. And this is precisely why Felarca is so worth paying attention to. And it’s why we’ll make sure to see what happens when she has her day in court on January 22.

Another Muslim woman in the U.S. Congress? Hurrah!

Ilhan Omar


As we noted last week, the state of Minnesota has given us a new Muslim Congresswoman – namely, 37-year-old Ilhan Omar, who represents Minneapolis and surrounding urban areas, and who, after her election, publicly announced that, contrary to the impression she had left during the campaign, she is a firm supporter of the anti-Israeli BDS movement.

Rashida Tlaib


Elected to the U.S. House the same day was another female Muslim – Rashida Tlaib, age 42, who represents parts of Detroit and Dearborn Heights as well as several smaller municipalities. Tlaib, formerly a member of the Michigan House of Representatives, was the first Muslim woman ever elected to any U.S. state legislature. And she and Omar are the first two Muslim women elected to Congress. (Omar wears a hijab; Tlaib doesn’t.) Suitably enough, they represent all or part of two of the most heavily Islamized cities in the United States – Minneapolis and Dearborn Heights.

Keith Ellison

Like Omar, Tlaib was celebrated by the international media throughout the campaign for being all these wonderful things: young, attractive, female, Muslim. What’s not to love? As with Omar, moreover, those same media have reflexively bought Tlaib’s self-characterization as a “progressive,” which of course even adds to her lovability in the eyes of the media. As evidence of her progressivism, they point to her membership in the Democratic Socialists of America.

Yet Tlaib is also a devout Muslim – in 2014 and again on November 17 of this year, she spoke at banquets held by the Los Angeles branch of the Council on American-Islamic Relations – and of course there is nothing at all progressive about CAIR, a Muslim Brotherhood front group, or about orthodox Islam generally. until recently, moreover, Tlaib professed support for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian question; in an August interview, however, she stated that she was in favor of a one-state solution and a Palestinian right of return. Like Omar, she has also recently come out as a supporter of the BDS movement. At her victory party on Election Night, she danced while waving a flag. Not an American flag. A Palestinian flag.

Linda Sarsour

The eagerness of Democrat voters in the upper Midwest to put people like Omar and Tlaib in office is disconcerting. But of course they’d already sent Keith Ellison, the current holder of Omar’s House seat, to Washington, despite his background in the Nation of Islam and his chumminess with Louis Farrakhan. And left-wingers all over America have embraced Linda Sarsour, a supposed feminist and leftist who has made clear her support for sharia law and for jihad. At this point, it seems safe to predict two things. One, the number of Muslims on Capitol Hill will continue to rise, despite their failure to distance themselves from some of the more uncomfortable aspects of their faith. Two, apropos of Omar’s and Tlaib’s switcheroos on Islam, it seems a fair bet that these are only the first of many about-faces that these two women will carry off as their careers advance.  

 

Only Jew-haters allowed in Berkeley city government

Hatem Bazian

Small world. In July of last year, we wrote here about Hatem Bazian, a lecturer in UC Berkeley’s Department of Ethnic Studies whose CV is, in addition, crowded with Islam-related activities: he’s the co-founder and provost of something called Zaytuna College for Muslim Studies; the founder of Students for Justice in Palestine; the founder of Berkeley’s Center for the Study of Documentation of Islamophobia; and so on. He’s called for an intifada in the U.S., refused to condemn terrorism, and quoted with approval a line from the Hadith calling for the murder of Jews.

Yvette Felarca

Then, last April, we posted an account of Yvette Felarca, who is a Berkeley middle-school teacher by day and a violent “anti-fascist” radical during her free time. Our tale of Felarca’s adventures – including a riot that succeeded in shutting down a planned speech at the UC Berkeley by Milo Yiannopoulos – led us to a fellow by the name of Jesse Arreguin, who happens to be the mayor of Berkeley. Instead of criticizing the violence, Arreguin chose to criticize Yiannopoulos, whom he called (falsely) a “white nationalist.” Within the days that followed, it emerged that Arreguin was a member of the Facebook page of Felarca’s extremist group, By Any Means Necessary (BAMN), which the FBI and State Department consider a terrorist organization; that Arreguin and Felarca were Facebook friends; and that he had a pet cat named Che.

Jesse Arreguin

Recently, Bazian and Arreguin made the news – this time together. In November, Bazian was named to the Peace and Justice Commission of the city of Berkeley; and Arreguin, despite holding political views that are of the sort which usually imply anti-Semitism, opposed the appointment because of Bazian’s “anti-Semitic statements and actions.” Arreguin expressed frustration over the fact that he doesn’t have the power to prevent the appointment, which was the stratagem of City Council member Cheryl Davila.

Cheryl Davila

Having recalled Arreguin’s appalling support for BAMN’s destructiveness, we were frankly surprised by the intensity of his opposition to Bazian on the grounds of anti-Semitism. Arreguin pointed out a couple of crude anti-Semitic cartoons that Bazian retweeted last year, resulting in criticism by the UC Berkeley administration – that move surprised us, too – and an apology by Bazian.

Ben Gerhardstein

Why did Davila pick Bazian, of all people, for that commission? Apparently because, for her, his anti-Semitism isn’t a bug but a feature. As it turns out, this isn’t the first time that Davila has used her position to promote anti-Semitic ideas. In November of last year, she dismissed Transportation Commissioner Ben Gerhardstein “after he declined to state a position on whether Berkeley should divest from companies that do business with Israel.” According to a series of emails between Gerhardstein and Davila, she had indicated to him that his views on Israel and Palestine were important to her, despite their obvious irrelevance to the duties of his job; that, in fact, she was asking a number of potential commissioners about their opinions on the issue; and that she wanted a commission on which everyone supported divestment from Israel. Far from disputing any of these charges, Davila made a public statement that seemed to suggest she was fully within her rights to enforce an Israeli-Palestinian test on Berkeley commissioners and charged that anyone who made a big deal out of this action on her part was part of “the ongoing suppression campaigns to smear anyone who supports Palestine.”

Ben & Jerry….& Linda Sarsour?

Jerry Greenfield, left, and Ben Cohen

Who doesn’t know about Ben & Jerry’s, the ice cream company founded in Burlington, Vermont – that’s right, Bernie Sanders country – in 1978? Who doesn’t know that Ben & Jerry’s is not just political – goodness knows that plenty of companies nowadays wear their politics on their sleeves – but in-your-face political, aggressively political, Vermont political?

The company was founded by two old hippies, Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield, who have given politically tinged names to their ice cream flavors for years. They’ve waded into the British-Irish conflict, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, a struggle in Australia over dangers purported posed by government policies to the Great Barrier Reef. In 2016, they created a flavor in support of Bernie Sanders’s presidential campaign. That same year, both Ben and Jerry were arrested at protests in front of the U.S. Capitol. Earlier this year, they announced support for Afghan asylum seekers in Sweden.

Resist ice cream

Their latest treat is something called Pecan Resist. As in “We can resist.” It is meant to be part of “a campaign to lick injustice and champion those fighting to create a more just and equitable nation for us all.” Get it? You can lick injustice just like you lick an ice-cream cone. If it seems to you that Ben & Jerry have a somewhat overly simplistic idea of politics, and an inflated idea of the importance of ice cream, well, you’re not alone – and you’re way late to the game.

Then again, it could be argued that Pecan Resist – “chocolate ice cream with white and dark fudge chunks, pecans, walnuts, and fudge-covered almonds (formerly known as New York Super Fudge Chunk in a previous incarnation)” – is a step further than Ben & Jerry have ever gone before. In their view, they are defending their progressive values against Donald Trump, and celebrating “the activists who are continuing to resist oppression, harmful environmental practices and injustice.”

To this end, in connection with the launch of Pecan Resist, they’ve donated $25,000 to four “progressive community groups”: Color Of Change (which tackles racism), Honor The Earth (environmentalism), Neta (which is “led by people of color along the Texas-Mexico border”), and, last but not least, the Women’s March.

Ben, Jerry, and (in hijab) Sarsour, celebrating the kickoff of the new flavor

Fine, you may say. Let them spend their profits as they wish. But the launch of Pecan Resist involved something more than just handing out cash to lefty groups. At an event held the day after the massacre of Jews in a Pittsburgh synagogue, Ben & Jerry, who are themselves of Jewish background, held an event at which the most celebrated guest was Linda Sarsour, head of Women’s March.

We’ve written about Linda. Who hasn’t? She became famous on January 21, 2017, the day after President Trump’s inauguration. She gave a fiery speech at that day’s Women’s March on Washington. She always wears hijab. She’s friends with Louis Farrakhan. She loves sharia. She’s the face of the radical Islamic Society of North America. She has said that Trump won the presidency “on the backs of Muslims.” She has routinely dismissed the impact of 9/11 and other jihadist acts on their victims and has just as routinely complained that Muslims are the victims of Islamophobia. She has demonized Brigitte Gabriel and Ayaan Hirsi Ali for daring to fret about the Islamic subjugation of women. And she has constantly made clear her contempt for Jews.

But none of this bothered Ben & Jerry. Confronted with her history, they’ve said they were cool with Sarsour. Okay, that’s their choice. But should we be cool with Ben and Jerry’s?

Defending Antifa at Queen’s University

David Menzies

On September 23, David Menzies of Canada’s Rebel Media introduced the world to yet another idiot professor of whose existence it had previously been innocent. Cynthia Levine-Rasky, an associate professor in the Department of Sociology at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario, had written a letter to the editor to Toronto’s cooler-than-thou alternative weekly, Now, which was basically a billet doux to Antifa. “Many people,” she wrote, “are critical of the anti-fascist activists who protest white nationalist rallies….But they are taking risks that the rest of us will not.” They “mask up because white nationalists photograph and film them so they can identify them and attack them online and otherwise. Many anti-fascist protestors are young people with a lot to lose, including their jobs, their housing, their health, their future. We need to stop labelling these front-line activists since surely all of us are against white supremacy.”

Cynthia Levine-Rasky

Where to start? With the fact that “white nationalist rallies” of any significant size in North America are a fever dream of the far left, whose savviest members know very well that “white nationalism” is a chimera, even if a good many of the white, upper-middle-class college students and trust-fund malingerers who make up most of Antifa actually seem to believe, on some childlike, unreflecting level, that they are at war with millions of rabid racists, sexists, homophobes, transphobes, etc. Second, the conduct of Antifa makes it clear that they, and nobody else, are the major fascist phenomenon in North America today. They are not fighting fascists. They are fighting conservatives, libertarians, classical liberals, moderates, you name it – anyone who may happen to disagree with their radical lockstep boilerplate. They “mask up” because they do not have the courage of their convictions. If they really were brave, they wouldn’t give a toss about losing their jobs or housing. Their convictions are play convictions. They may think they are valiant fighters against capitalism, but they are sunlight warriors, summertime Spartacuses, playpen rebels, gathering en masse to smash the windows of Starbucks branches at which they may well later turn up, maskless, to order a cafe latte grande.

Clash in Charlottesville, 2017

Of course the argument that North America in 2018 is rife with white supremacism is based largely on a single event – the clash in Charlottesville, Virginia, in August 2017 between motley crews of rightist and leftist activists. Yes, some of the rightists who were there were extremists – some were even neo-Nazis or members of the Ku Klux Klan. Some of the leftists, in the same way, were Stalinists, Maoists, anarchists. Neither extreme is attractive. Neither is conducive to individual freedom and intellectual diversity. But one thing is clear. The extreme right in America today is an extremely minimal and marginal phenomenon. The KKK’s heyday is long past. The neo-Nazis are not about to take over the U.S. By contrast, the radical left is thriving. Only Clinton-level political machinations prevented a socialist, Bernie Sanders, from winning the Democratic Party 2016 nomination for president of the United States.

Margaret Sanger

But Levine-Rasky doesn’t buy this. In a recent article, she argued that white supremacists are a clear and present danger, and noted that white supremacism was certainly a real power earlier in the history of the U.S. and Canada. She pointed out, for example, the onetime popularity of eugenics programs, which aggressive promoted birth control as a means of keeping down the reproduction of nonwhites. She’s right to indicate that this sort of thinking was indeed widespread back in the day. What she neatly omits to mention is that eugenics, as preached by Margaret Sanger and others, was an integral part not of conservative political programs but, rather, of the progressive movement that led to the formation of the modern American welfare state. The determination of progressives to make use of modern science to limit the number of black babies was rooted in the very same totalitarian urge to control and restrict that undergirds today’s Antifa movement.

Teddy Roosevelt

Levine-Rasky makes a big deal out of the fact that Teddy Roosevelt, a Republican, subscribed to this kind of thinking, but she omits to even admit that leftist heroes Wilson and FDR were far more worried about “polluting” of white America with the blood of other “races” than Teddy Roosevelt was. It should be recalled that Wilson, despite his image as a liberal-minded academic intellectual, was a vicious segregationist, while FDR locked up Japanese-Americans during World War II and refused to allow Jewish refugees from Nazi Germany into the U.S. In American today, the progressive obsession with group identity that made possible Wilson’s and FDR’s ugliest policies still exists not in today’s GOP but in the party of Obama and the Clintons – but you would never know that from Cynthia Levine-Rasky.