Lana Del Rey: another showbiz coward

 

Lana Del Rey

Lana Del Rey, the singer, has won a shelfful of prizes: two Brit Awards, a GQ Award for Woman of the Year, the MTV Europe Music Award, a Trailblazer Award from Billboard, plus four Grammy nominations. We’re also hereby presenting her with a perhaps less enviable accolade: we’re adding her to our Hall of Infamy for celebrities who have refused to perform in Israel. Among those who’ve already earned a place on the scroll of honor: Natalie Portman and Roger Waters.

Roger Waters

As we’ve seen, Waters has stooped so low as to equate Israel with Nazi Germany – a comparison that led Rabbi Schmuley Boteach to issue an angry correction:

…the Nazis were a genocidal regime that murdered 6 million Jews. That you would have the audacity to compare Jews to monsters who murdered them shows you have no decency, you have no heart, you have no soul. The Jews of Germany did nothing to invite the aggression against them. Indeed, they were loyal citizens of a country that many of them had fought for courageously just 20 years earlier in the First World War. They did not blow up buses for political purposes. They did not send terrorists into schools to murder children. They did not preach that killing German children would get them virgins in heaven. They lived lives of humanity and decency and were murdered for no other reason than the fact that they were Jews.

Far from being shamed into silence, Waters stayed on his high horse, preaching self-righteously about the purported evils of Israel, haranging both Robbie Williams and Dionne Warwick for agreeing to sing in Israel. 

Robbie Williams

Anyway, back to Lana. In her case, it started off well enough. Del Rey, who is touring the world to promote her latest album, Ultraviolence, originally agreed to play at the Meteor Festival, which took place at a kibbutz near Tel Aviv on September 6-8. When she first began to take heat for this move – from, among others, the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI), which compared Israel to apartheid South Africa – she stood by her decision, saying “I believe music is universal and should be used to bring us together” and promising to perform “with a loving energy” and “a thematic emphasis on peace.” She added: “If you don’t agree with it I get it. I see both sides.” She further pointed out that she did not mean to make “a political statement” by doing a show in Israel. “We don’t always agree with the politics of the places we play within or in our own country,” she said.

Abraham Riesman

That didn’t last long. On August 31, Del Rey backed down. Her excuse: she was postponing her appearance at the festival until she could “schedule visits for both my Israeli and Palestinian fans, as well as hopefully other countries in the region.” We look forward to seeing her take the stage in Saudi Arabia, burka and all. In any event, as Abraham Riesman commented at Vulture, it’s unfortunate that people around the world are increasingly being introduced to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict through these crude pressure campaigns against showbiz figures, which are orchestrated by the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement. “Fifteen years ago,” wrote Reisman, “there was little to no stigma attached to a gig in Israel. Now, it seems inevitable that every musician who chooses to play there will face at least some degree of condemnation for doing so.”

Well, that’s how so much of the left operates these days: if it finds it doesn’t have truth and logic on its side, it resorts to lies and threats. And the more successful this strategy is, the more they’ll use it. It’s unfortunate that they managed to turn Lana del Rey, whose original instinct, as it happens, was the right one. 

Ever oppressed, never privileged: Sarah Jeong

Sarah Jeong

After the New York Times‘s newest editorial board member, Sarah Jeong, was revealed to have sent out hundreds of repellent tweets about white people between 2013 and 2015, leftist commentators rushed to her defense. The editors of her own previous employer, the website The Verge, not only stood up for Jeong but condemned those who dared to call out her bigotry, accusing people of “intentionally [taking]them out of context” and of subjecting poor Sarah to “an unrelenting stream of abuse” online.

In the view of the folks at The Verge, the only guilty parties here were those whose jaws dropped when they read Jeong’s tweets: they’re “dishonest and outrageous”; they’re “trolls”; they’re yet more journalist-haters who are “acting in bad faith” and who have a “malicious agenda.” These horrible people on the right, you see, “take tweets and other statements out of context because they want to disrupt us and harm individual reporters. The strategy is to divide and conquer by forcing newsrooms to disavow their colleagues one at a time. This is not a good-faith conversation; it’s intimidation.” And it distracts terrific journalists like Jeong from their vitally important effort to “report on the most toxic communities on the internet.” This is pretty rich, given that it would be hard to find stuff on the Internet that’s more toxic than Jeong’s own tweets. But of course in the Verge mindset, attacks on other human beings are ugly only if those human beings are members of recognized victim groups.

Jim Hoft

At Fortune, Jeff John Roberts accepted the argument that Jeong’s tweets “amount to irony or barbed humor, not racism.” Humor? Irony? Sorry, no sale. In the Guardian, Sam Wolfson defended Jeong by demonizing Jim Hoft, who first drew attention to her old tweets on his site Gateway Pundit – according to Wolfson, “a far-right blog that often publishes entirely false stories that bolster the Trump administration.” (Lie.) Wolfson approvingly quoted one Ijeoma Oluo’s argument that Jeong was “using humor to get through the white supremacist bullshit this society shovels on WOC [women of color].” Wolfson helpfully added that “Jeong’s tweets arguably form part of a genre of commentary common on Twitter and in mainstream media, from the hit Netflix show Dear White People to the bestselling book Stuff White People Like, which seek to highlight the ways people of color can be excluded by white society.” Exactly how on earth, one wonders, can Jeong, a Berkeley and Harvard Law grad and Times editorial board member, be viewed as an “excluded” individual?

When we googled “Sarah Jeong” and “Times,” the first hit was from Vox, which called Jeong “a venerated tech culture journalist” and “an outspoken progressive and feminist, making her an obvious target for the right-wing internet mobs.” As Vox outlined it, the right was out to get Jeong all along and the tweets were merely a useful weapon. Poppycock. Vox, like the other leftist outlets, rejected the racist label: “To equate ‘being mean to white people’ with the actual systemic oppression and marginalization of minority groups is a false equivalency.” Again, to describe a Harvard grad and Times top dog as oppressed or marginalized is beyond absurd – it’s a postmodern ideological construct that has no connection whatsoever to lived reality.

Hating whites is OK: Sarah Jeong

Sarah Jeong

On Thursday, we saw how the New York Times added a Korean-American woman, Sarah Jeong, to its editorial board and defended this action even after Jeong turned out to have been busy, from 2013 to 2015, sending out hate tweets about whites, men, and cops. As we noted, there were critics. But many on the left had Jeong’s back.

At the Washington Post, Eli Rosenberg and Erin B. Logan wrote a piece headlined “An Asian American woman’s tweets ignite a debate: Is it okay to make fun of white people online?” Make fun of? In the article text, they described Jeong as having “spoke[n] sarcastically about white people.” You would think Jeong’s tweets had been playful jabs at good buddies rather than calls for genocide. Rosenberg and Logan called them “old tweets,” even though the oldest of them is only five years old. Then they wrote this:

Eli Rosenberg

Without evidence that they had any bearing on Jeong’s extensive body of work, which includes a book she wrote about online harassment, these statements could have perhaps been unceremoniously dismissed as insignificant. But after conservative media seized on the story Thursday, they ignited a firestorm of debate.

What on earth are Rosenberg and Logan saying here? Are they actually suggesting that Jeong’s mountain of odious tweets have no relevance to her employment by the Times? Do they not grasp that the tweets provide a window on Jeong’s character and patterns of thought, and that they are plainly the work of a sick and vile mind – and that such a mind does not belong at the highest editorial level of a serious newspaper?

Erin B. Logan

No: to Rosenberg and Logan, apparently, Jeong’s tweets are trivial, and the whole hullabaloo over them is the fault of conservatives out to make trouble. This is how they frame it: “in a country in the midst of a painful debate about white supremacy and privilege, Jeong’s episode has exposed a deeper rift between some conservatives – whose political ideology has been marked by the rise of a president who has trafficked in racially charged rhetoric and policies – and the left, pointing to a fundamental disagreement about the nature of race and power in the United States.”

Nonsense. The U.S. is not undergoing “a painful debate about white supremacy and privilege.” White supremacy is a fever dream of the left. Actual white supremacists are exceedingly few in number and are effectively powerless. Privilege? Jeong is a Berkeley and Harvard Law grad and, now, a member of the Times editorial board. If that isn’t privilege, what is? As for President Trump’s rhetoric, there’s nothing “racially charged” about it. He has been frank and tough about very real threats to American security – namely, Islamic terrorism and murderous Latin American youth gangs – that the left prefers not to discuss because of its own twisted obsession with race.

Nolan L. Cabrera

After dismissively summing up some of the conservative reaction to Jeong’s tweets, the Post writers quoted a University of Arizona professor, Nolan L. Cabrera, who characterized the outrage as “manufactured” and as “completely decontextualized and ahistorified.” The only way to conclude that Jeong “hates white people” is to be “willfully ignorant of 400 to 500 years’ history and contemporary social context and also the context from which the tweets were sent.”

Sorry, “white men are bullshit” and “fuck the cops” are pretty straightforward – no historical analysis required. Cabrera also served up the usual postmodern line that an Asian woman can’t be racist toward a white man, because racism is a matter of “power dynamics and social oppression.” More nonsense – and even if you do buy this definition of racism, then okay, she’s not a racist, she’s a bigot. Hate is hate.

More on Thursday.

Pure hate: Sarah Jeong

Jeff Bezos

Thanks to the Internet, newspapers are in a bad way. Just the other day, without warning, the New York Daily News dumped a large percentage of its staff. The Washington Post survives thanks only to its purchase by the world’s richest man, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, who has poured cash into the Post in an effort to transform it into “media and technology company.”

Carlos Slim

Meanwhile the New York Times is kept afloat by another zillionaire, Carlos Slim, who topped the list of the world’s richest guys from 2010 to 2013. owned by one of the world’s richest men. Yet Slim’s cash hasn’t protected Times staffers from job insecurity. Over the last few years, the people who run the Times have instituted various economies, large and small. In 2014, about a hundred newsroom jobs were eliminated. Last year, the paper cut the number of copy editors roughly in half.

Sarah Jeong

All of which makes the Times’s hiring of one Sarah Jeong even more puzzling. In late July, the Times announced that Jeong, a young Korean-American writer for a website called The Verge,would be joining its editorial board. It didn’t take long for Jeong’s remarkable history of tweets to make news. Written between 2013 and 2015, they reveal a stunning hatred for white people, especially white men.


“White men are bullshit,” she writes. Whites are only “fit to live underground like groveling goblins.” And: “oh man it’s kind of sick how much joy I get out of being cruel to old white men.” After maintaining that everything white men do other than skiing and golf is cultural appropriation, Jeong concludes: “it must be so boring to be white.” In a couple of tweets, she seems to express approval of genocide: “#cancelwhitepeople.” “White people have stopped breeding. you’ll all go extinct soon. that was my plan all along.”

She hasn’t just targeted whites. Her Twitter record contains plenty of vile stuff about the police, too: “[C]ops are assholes.” “[F]uck the cops.” “If we’re talking big sweeping bans on shit that kills people, why don’t we ever ever ever ever talk about banning the police?”

It’s more than enough, of course, that these tweets are hateful. But in addition to that, they’re staggeringly vapid and vulgar. None of them have the remotest hint of wit or intellectual content. If somebody told you this person was headed for a job on the editorial board of the New York Times, would you ever believe it in a million years?

Andrew Sullivan

Jeong’s tweets sparked outrage. In some places, anyway. Conservative publications and websites called out the Times for hiring an obvious racist. So did Andrew Sullivan at New York Magazine. But the Times held firm. In an August 2 statement, it stood by its hire, accepting her “explanation” that her ugly tweets had been responses to “torrents of online hate” that she had experienced as “a woman of color on the internet.” Her tweets about whites, cops, etc., insisted Jeong, were a form of “counter-trolling” and “intended as satire.”

Sorry, but we don’t buy it. In what way is “fuck the cops” satire? Others didn’t buy it either. But an appalling number of commentators did. Not only did they defend Jeong – they celebrated her. More on Thursday.

Cynthia Nixon, democratic socialist

Back to Cynthia Nixon, TV star (Miranda on Sex and the City to you) turned would-be governor of the great state of New York.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

On this site, we’ve already discussed the other self-identified socialist star of the hour, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, whose upset victory in the Democratic primary for a Bronx congressional district, made her a nationwide media sensation (and who has, as it happens, endorsed Nixon’s run). Since her win, Ocasio-Cortez has shown in innumerable interviews that she’s shockingly ignorant about basic facts of history and current events – in short, definitely not ready for prime time. But she’s only 28 years old. Her ignorance is forgivable – or, at least, more forgivable than it is in a woman twice her age.

Nixon and her wife, Christine Marinoni

Nixon is 52. How could a 52-year-old woman be so naive about the reality of socialism? Well, if you look through her background, the answer seems pretty clear. The daughter of an unemployed radio guy and a woman who worked on the TV game show To Tell the Truth, Nixon has been acting since she was 12, “often taking time away from school to perform in film and on stage.” It’s not hard to believe that she missed a lot of classes.

With her Sex and the City co-stars Kristin Davis, Kim Cattrall, and Sarah Jessica Parker

Her education, then, consisted largely of performing in a variety of films, plays, TV shows, and TV movies. To scan the list of early credits on her ImdB page is to imagine the ways in which these productions might have helped shape her picture of the world. The 1982 TV movie My Body, My Child argued for the morality of abortion. Robert Altman’s O.C. And Stiggs was an indictment of middle-class American life disguised as a teen comedy. The 1988 miniseries The Murder of Mary Phagan was about a factory worker convicted of murder and lynched in Georgia in 1915. Tanner ’88 recounted a noble left-wing Democrat’s failed run for president.

Nixon (left) in Tanner ’88

We’re not suggesting that acting in a movie or play means you share its writer’s opinions; we’re simply saying that it seems reasonable to posit that a young, spottily educated actor will inevitably be shaped by the ideologies that underpin the works in which she appears and which she spends weeks memorizing and (in the case of plays) weeks or months performing over and over again.

Not that you have to buy that theory. All you need to do is be aware that Nixon, an actress who has been praised frequently for her intelligent interpretations of characters, is less intelligent when it comes to real-life politics than when it comes to portraying persons other than herself. Of course, when it comes to that, she’s got a lot of company in Hollywood. Perhaps when you spend the most important, or at least the most intense, parts of your life in a totally pretend world, you’re not going to be particularly well informed about how the real world works, or well qualified to make pronouncements about how the real world should be run.

The new Nixon

Cynthia Nixon

Until recently, Cynthia Nixon was best known for playing Miranda on the HBO series Sex and the City and its big-screen movie spinoffs. Of the four women who were the main characters, Miranda was the sensible one. She was a serious-minded lawyer and, unlike her three friends, she didn’t fall instantly into bed with every guy who made a pass at her.

Though we may know better, we often think of famous actors as being more or less like the people they play. You could be forgiven, then, for assuming that Nixon is, in real life, a brainy, level-headed type. In recent months, however, Nixon has appeared to be on a one-woman mission to prove otherwise.

Andrew Cuomo

As a candidate for governor of New York State who is challenging the Democratic incumbent, Andrew Cuomo, from the left, Nixon has, not to put too fine a point on it, demonstrated to all and sundry that she is a world-class pinhead. On July 10, Politico published a statement by Nixon in which she admitted to being, in her own words, a “democratic socialist.”

“Some more establishment, corporate Democrats get very scared by this term but if being a democratic socialist means that you believe health care, housing, education and the things we need to thrive should be a basic right not a privilege then count me in,” Nixon wrote. “As Martin Luther King put it, call it democracy or call it democratic socialism but we have to have a better distribution of wealth in this country. I have long stood in support of a millionaires tax, Medicare for all, fully funding our public schools, housing for all and rejecting all corporation donations — all of which align with democratic socialist principles.”

Marc Molinaro

Nixon’s campaign confirmed that she wasn’t using her words lightly. Her handlers had been in touch with the Democratic Socialists of America. She feels that socialism is on the rise in America and, especially, in the Democratic Party – and she thinks it’s a terrific development. Marc Molinaro, the GOP candidate for New York governor, had a pointed response to that: “Millionaires like Cynthia Nixon may be able to dream about socialist paradises, but here in the real world, people can’t afford the taxes they have,” Molinaro said. “If Ms. Nixon thinks socialism is the answer, she should ask the people of Venezuela.”

More on Tuesday.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, kingmaker?

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

There’s always a first time. Never in the history of this site have we felt called upon to revisit a subject only a couple of weeks after writing about it – or him, or her – but Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the charismatic 28-year-old who shook up the American political scene by beating a ten-term establishment Democrat, New York’s Joe Crowley, in a primary race for his House seat, has received so much media attention in the wake of her victory that we consider ourselves obliged to update our report on her.

Joe Crowley

As we noted, Ocasio-Cortez calls herself a Democratic-Socialist. Not too many years ago, she would have been considered too far left for a serious career in national politics. After Bernie Sanders, that’s no longer the case. Staggering percentages of millennial Americans tell pollsters that they prefer socialism or Communism to capitalism. It helps that the Soviet Union fell before they were born, and that they’re either uneducated about the reality of socialism or have been fed pro-socialist propaganda by their teachers. So it is that somebody like Ocasio-Cortez is being interviewed on national media – and getting cheers from studio audiences.

Tom Perez

She’s also getting cheers from Democratic Party officials. She hasn’t even been elected to the House yet, but on July 3 Tom Perez, chairman of the Democratic National Committee, called her “the future of our party,” and Obama adviser Valerie Jarrett tweeted a thumbs-up for the ambitious young woman.

Ocasio-Cortez hasn’t just been collecting endorsements, but handing them out. The Daily Beast reported that her support for Kerri Harris, a candidate for the U.S. Senate from Delaware, and Ayanna Pressley, who is running for Congress from Massachusetts, has caused donations for both campaigns to soar. The same goes for Kaniela Ing and Brent Welder, who are running for Congress from Hawaii and Kansas respectively.

Abdul El-Sayed

One of Ocasio-Cortez’s endorsements has gained particular attention. “Michigan is blessed to have Abdul El-Sayed as a candidate for Governor, and I am proud to support him,” Ocasio-Cortez tweeted on July 2. Who is El-Sayed? A former public-health director for the city of Detroit, he is a Muslim who, as a college student, was a vice president of the Muslim Brotherhood-linked Muslim Students Association. At a recent candidates’ forum, he refused to provide a direct answer to a query about sharia law – a perfectly reasonable question given his religious affiliation, and given the fact that courts in Michigan, which has America’s highest concentration of Muslims, is currently facing cases of female genital mutilation and honor killing.

Patrick Colbeck

When El-Sayed’s opponent in the governor’s race, Patrick Colbeck, replied to the question by speaking frankly and critically about sharia law, jihad, and the Muslim Brotherhood, El-Sayed went ballistic, accusing Republicans in general of racism and white supremacy. While Colbeck had made it clear that he was troubled by certain aspects of Islamic doctrine itself but had no personal animus against individual Muslims, a furious El-Sayed called Colbeck an Islamophobe, saying, “Now you may not hate Muslims, but I’ll tell you, Muslims definitely hate you!”

This, then, is a man whose political career Ocasio-Cortez is championing. Need we say more? Well, given the degree of attention she is receiving, and the amount of new information that is coming out about her by the day, we’ll probably find it necessary to revisit this rising socialist star yet again in the very near future.

Forget Thelma and Louise: now it’s Sarandon and Sarsour

 

Susan Sarandon

On Tuesday we began covering the activist career of actress Susan Sarandon, who seems never to have met a murderer she didn’t love. One such figure, as we have seen, is Mumia Abu-Jamal, a cop-killer who, thanks to the efforts of Sarandon and others, became a worldwide cause celebre. Protests were held all over the planet. The city of Paris made Mumia an honorary citizen. Meanwhile, Maureen Faulkner, whose husband had been killed by Mumia, and had already had to live once through his trial, had to climb back on that horse – this time in an attempt to keep the killer in prison.

Maureen Faulkner

She had no stars on her side. She did it alone. In 1999, a journalist who’d interviewed Mumia years earlier let slip that Mumia, during their conversation, had actually admitted to murdering Faulkner’s husband – a fact that there had not, in any case, been any serious reason to doubt in the first place. Yet so committed were Sarandon and others to Mumia’s cause that this revelation did nothing to shake their faith in their hero. So it was that thanks to the puerile activism of Sarandon and company, Maureen Faulkner’s life was turned upside down not once but twice.

That wasn’t the last example of Sarandon’s soft spot for thugs. As a member of Actors and Artists United for the Freedom of the Cuban Five, she fought for the release from a U.S. prison of five spies for the Castro regime. Her confederates on that occasion included Ed Asner, Danny Glover, Elliott Gould, Pete Seeger, Martin Sheen, and Oliver Stone.

Sarandon and friends

Now 72, she’s still at it. On June 28, she was one of 575 activists arrested in Washington, D.C., while protesting outside the Hart Senate Office Building against the Trump Administration’s detention of illegal aliens and reinforcement of the Mexican border. “What do we want? Free families!” they chanted. Some carried signs bearing the hashtag #FamiliesBelongTogether, a reference to the practice of temporarily separating adults caught entering the country illegally from the children they bring with them – a practice that is blamed by the far left on Donald Trump, even though it predates his presidency, and that, in fact, often ends up rescuing children from adults who, though pretending to be their parents, are in fact trafficking them into the U.S. for nefarious reasons.

Sarandon and Sarsour

A picture taken at this protest, by the way, shows Sarandon seemingly joined at the hip with fellow “feminist” Linda Sarsour – a woman who is always wearing hijab, who doesn’t hide her enthusiasm for sharia, who is a vocal supporter of the BDS movement against Israel, who said that her “Arab pride was hurt” when the child-murdering Saddam Hussein was captured by U.S. forces, who solicited contributions for Hamas-linked “charities,” who charged that al-Qaeda’s 2009 “underwear bomber” was actually a CIA operative, and who won an “American Muslim of the Year” award from terrorist-tied CAIR (whose executive director, Nihad Awad, she affectionately called “Uncle Nihad”).

This is the company Sarandon keeps. The fact that she seeks out this kind of ally, combined with her execrable record of standing up for the likes of Jack Henry Abbott, Mumia Abu-Jabal, and Castro’s spies, should be enough to discredit her in the eyes of any sensible observer, no matter whether that observer identifies with the left or the right. But memories are short, and all too many people who consider themselves liberals or leftists continue to view this foolish old woman as a voice of conscience.

Idolizing a cop killer: Susan Sarandon

This website has been around for quite a while, but somehow we’ve never given Susan Sarandon her due. Sarandon, the Oscar-winning star of such movies as Pretty Baby, Atlantic City, Bull Durham, Thelma and Louise, and Dead Man Walking has also, over the years, made a name for herself as a left-wing activist.

Susan Sarandon

Come to think of it, “left-wing activist” is probably putting it too mildly. Sarandon has been an active participant in several Revolutionary Communist Party projects and front groups, including the anti-war organization Not in My Name and something called World Can’t Wait. She was a major booster of Occupy Wall Street and has collaborated with far-left New York mayor Bill de Blasio on plans for extensive wealth redistribution.

Jack Henry Abbott

Sarandon and her longtime partner, Tim Robbins – who shares her extreme views, and whose own misguided hijinks we hope to get around to on this site before too long – are so far out there that they actually named one of their children Jack Henry, after Jack Henry Abbott, a Communist forger, bank robber, and murderer whom novelist Norman Mailer help spring from prison in 1981 and who, six weeks later, without provocation, stabbed to death 22-year-old writer and playwright Robert Adan. (It occurs to us, just now, that this reprehensible episode has so fully faded from historical memory, and is so representative an example of the dangers of sentimental limousine radicalism, that we should probably recount it, too, in a future post on this site.)

Sarandon (center), with her son Jack Henry Robbins and Eva Amurri Martino

Abbott wasn’t the only murderer who drew Sarandon’s sympathy. She spent years as a leader of the nationwide campaign to release loathsome cop-killer Mumia Abu-Jamal from prison. Mumia, born Wesley Cook, was a former Black Panther who, thanks to the misguided support of Sarandon and others, became a poster boy for the fight against the death penalty – and, indeed, something a worldwide folk hero. Writing in Time Magazine in 1970, Steve Lopez told the tragic story of Maureen Faulkner, the widow of the Philadelphia police officer whom Mumia killed. Only 24 when her husband was murdered on duty in 1981, Faulkner left town and started her life over again in California – where, some years later, the weirdest thing started happening.

Mumia Abu-Jamal: yes, he killed a cop, but look, he’s cool, like Che Guevara!


“Suddenly, everywhere she turned, she saw her husband’s killer,” wrote Lopez. “She saw him on T shirts, on posters, on book covers, on television. He’d become an international celebrity, called a hero by some, compared to Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King Jr. by others.” Sarandon and other famous and powerful people – including fellow actors Paul Newman, Ed Asner, and Ossie Davis, authors Mailer, E.L. Doctorow, Gunther Grass, and Maya Angelou, the rock groups Rage against the Machine and the Beastie Boys, and no fewer than 22 members of the British Parliament – insisted that Mumia was innocent and demanded a new trial.

More on Thursday.

The ACLU today: leftism and lies

In our last couple of postings, we’ve been preoccupied with the transformation of the American Civil Liberties Union from an objective defender of free speech and civil liberties into yet another partisan tool for the left. The most prominent critic of this development has been Alan Dershowitz, the high-profile – and liberal – lawyer.

Wendy Kaminer

But Dershowitz hasn’t been alone. In a June article for the Wall Street Journal, Wendy Kaminer – who, like Dershowitz, is a former ACLU board member – cited a leaked memo about the ACLU’s current guidelines for taking on free-speech cases. Under those guidelines, the organization takes into account “the potential effect” of speech limits “on marginalized communities” and the “structural and power inequalities in the community in which the speech will occur.” Kaminer shook her head over all this, arguing that such thinking amounts to “a demotion of free speech in the ACLU’s hierarchy of values.”

Megan McArdle

That wasn’t all. On June 26, the Washington Post website ran a piece by Megan McArdle headlined “The ACLU’s divided heart.” McArdle began by paying tribute to the ACLU’s history: “Born out of the prosecutions of antiwar speech during World War I, the American Civil Liberties Union has spent the succeeding decades litigating and lobbying to protect speech rights for everyone, from communists to Nazis. Without the ACLU, Americans wouldn’t have some of the most robust civil liberties in the world.” McArdle also made a point that cannot be considered anything short of vital: “If the ACLU steps back from speech cases, no other organization is ready to pick up the torch, in part because the ACLU is so synonymous with free speech that it attracts much of the donor interest and legal talent in this area.” McArdle then summed up the problematic new guidelines that Kaminer had written about in the Journal.

Nadine Strossen

One might have expected that the leaking of these guidelines to the public would have caused David Cole, the ACLU’s legal director, to miss his stride. But he didn’t. Absurdly, he insisted that these kinds of considerations had entered into decision-making at the ACLU ever since its founding. Nonsense. Nadine Strossen, a former head of the ACLU who has been especially strident lately in her pretense that it’s the same organization it always has been (see, for example, her recent turn on Dave Rubin’s podcast), also stood her ground. But Ira Glasser, Strossen’s predecessor, called B.S. on her: “To deny that this departure from free speech policy is a departure is intellectually dishonest, an Orwellian smokescreen thrown up to obscure what they are doing.” McArdle agreed: the ACLU’s politically drenched new criteria are “inimical to the very ideals the ACLU was founded to protect.” Yep.