“The white Jeremiah Wright”

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Fr. Michael Pfleger

Yesterday we met Father Michael Pfleger, a prominent Chicago priest and ally of Barack Obama’s who has been celebrated in The New Yorker and elsewhere as a crusading civil-rights hero. As we noted, he’s also a close friend of Jeremiah Wright and Louis Farrakhan.

“You can think of Father Michael Pfleger as the white Reverend Jeremiah Wright,” wrote Daniel Greenfield in 2008. “Not only does Father Michael Pfleger have a longstanding association with Wright and his Church, he has longstanding ties to Louis Farrakhan.” Indeed, Pfleger has said the following about Farrakhan:

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Pfleger enjoying a friendly moment with Farrakhan

I’ve known the minister both as someone who I have great respect for as a prophetic voice, as a mentor but also as a friend and as a brother. We’ve become very close friends over the years. Our families have been close; he’s shared dinner at my house as I have at his many, many times. He has preached from our pulpit here at this church on three different occasions.

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. In 2015, Pfleger wrote on Facebook:

Looking forward to getting on the bus tomorrow night to go to DC for the Anniversary of the Million Man March….and hearing my Brother Minister Louis Farrakhan….There is no leader in America who can draw the attention and hearts of millions of people seeking Justice and Truth like him……I thank God for his friendship and his Prophetic and courageous Voice….we never needed it more than right now…….Love my Brother.

In 2010, Pfleger, Wright, and Farrakhan came together on a single stage. The occasion: the presentation to all three of them of “Living Legends” awards. Who gave out the awards? Wright himself. Yes, he gave himself an award – just like some tinpot African dictator.

Of course, Wright and Farrakhan aren’t Pfleger’s only friends. He has a lot of them – many of whom are quite famous. In 2015, Matt C. Abbott called Pfleger a “well-known instigator who often panders to liberal politicians and celebrities.” And the celebrities who call Pfleger a friend are nothing less than multitudinous. Among those to whom Pfleger has gladly played host are the race hustler Al Sharpton and the radical singer Harry Belafonte (who, like Pfleger himself, took to Pfleger’s pulpit to blame the U.S. for 9/11). Kareem Irfan, a leading Chicago imam who has excused terrorist beheadings and has close links to terrorists, was also invited to speak at Pfleger’s church – on a 9/11 anniversary, no less.

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Pfleger leading an anti-gun protest

What else is there to say about Pfleger? Well, one thing is that the list of protests he’s led would fill a small book. In 2002, he “led a rally at the Dirksen Federal Building condemning the destruction of [Yasir] Arafat’s compound” in Gaza. Once he led a gun-control protest outside a gun shop, telling the shop owner: “We’re gonna find you and snuff you out.” (He also said he’d “snuff out” politicians who oppose gun control.) In 2014, he led his parishioners in a street protest against violence – not against the gang murders that have made Chicago the murder capital of America, mind you, but against the Chicago police, whom Pfleger accused of “genocide.”

Poisonous Waters

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Hilary Swank collecting her paycheck in Grozny

It’s a weird, upside-down planet we live on. Consider this. Around the globe, there are almost too many savage, monstrous regimes to keep track of. They steal their people blind. They employ death squads. They imprison, torture, and murder members of the political opposition. They harass and kill independent journalists. They execute gays and persecute Christians. And so on.

And world-famous stars clamor to entertain them and eulogize them. As we’ve seen on this site, Hollywood actors like Hilary Swank and Jean-Claude Van Damme have traveled to Chechnya to praise and perform for Ramzan Kadyrov, Putin’s puppet president.  Jermaine Jackson has fawned all over Yahya Jammeh, the brutal dictator of Gambia.  A boatload of luminaries – among them Steven Seagal, Sharon Stone, Goldie Hawn, Kurt Russell, Gérard Depardieu, and Mickey Rourke – have partied with Putin himself. Danny Glover and Harry Belafonte palled around with Hugo Chávez. And soccer great Lionel Messi has cozied up to Gabon’s child-murdering dictator, Ali Bongo. 

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Sharon Stone with Putin and unidentified child

And yet which country on earth is the sole target of an organized campaign to pressure show-business figures into turning down invitations to perform within its borders? Israel, of course – the only democracy in the Middle East.

The BDS movement – the letters stand for “boycott, divestment, and sanctions” – has a wide reach. It’s not just concerned with entertainers. It’s out to cut off Israel as fully as possible, in every way possible, from the rest of the world. But the effort to break cultural ties is particularly high-profile – and alarmingly successful. In February, several hundred British artists signed a statement announcing that they would “not engage in business-as-usual cultural relations with Israel,” meaning that they would “accept neither professional invitations to Israel, nor funding, from any institutions linked to its government. Among the artists were Palme d’Or-winning film director Ken Loach; Mike Leigh, the Oscar-nominated director of the 2004 movie Vera Drake; and musician Brian Eno.

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Roger Waters

A number of entertainers have been outspoken in their support of the BDS movement. But few of them are as ardent as musician Roger Waters, formerly of the band Pink Floyd. For Waters, there are apparently no gray areas when it comes to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict: consistently, he not only condemns Israel but also defends terrorists. He’s called the Israeli government a “racist apartheid regime” and accused it of “genocide” and “ethnic cleansing.” He’s slammed what he calls the “Jewish lobby” in the U.S. and Israel’s “propaganda machine.” He’s accused Israel’s rabbis of viewing Arabs as “sub-human.” And he’s mocked Israeli concern about Iran acquiring nuclear weapons, calling it a “diversionary tactic.”

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Waters’s pig balloon

In the summer of 2013, his concerts featured “a pig-shaped balloon adorned with Jewish symbols, including a Star of David.” In December of that year, he explicitly compared Israeli treatment of Palestinians to Nazi treatment of Jews. “The parallels with what went on in the 1930s in Germany are so crushingly obvious,” he told an interviewer. Rabbi Schmuley Boteach, a noted American author and public speaker, offered a memorable reply to these remarks. We’ll get around to that tomorrow.

Brainless actor fond of penniless country

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Glover and Harry Belafonte at a 2009 cultural event in Havana

As we saw the other day, movie star Danny Glover had a soft spot for late Venezuelan strongman Hugo Chávez. If anything, however, Glover loves the Castros even more than he ever loved el caudillo. While routinely savaging Israel as an apartheid state and supporting the BDS (boycott, divestment, and sanctions) movement against the Jewish state, Glover fiercely opposed the U.S. embargo of Cuba. As the editors of the New York Post noted last December, there was, at least, no ideological contradiction here: Glover supports BDS because he hates the only democracy in the Middle East; he opposed the Cuba embargo, quite simply, “because he admires Havana’s Communist regime.”

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Glover accepting a prize in Havana

By all accounts, Glover has spent a remarkable amount of time in Cuba. According to the Washington Post, he “goes there all the time with little fuss.” He’s attended an annual Havana film festival several times.   In 2011 he accepted a “cinema award” in Havana;  in the same year he took part in a Havana event entitled “Cuba and the Afro-Descendant Peoples of the Americas.”

lethal[1]He’s made it clear that he sees Cuba as some kind of utopian society that’s free of, among other things, racism. In a 2012 interview with the Cuban state media, he gushed that the Cuban Revolution is infused with “an extraordinary will to find truth and to reveal the new human being, the new man and a new woman.” The official Cuban daily Granma has called the relationship between Glover and Havana “intense….It was love at first sight, and not only has it stood the test of his frequent visits, but it is growing deeper and deeper, through discoveries and affinities.”

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Paquito D’Rivera

Quoting this statement in his memoirs, the distinguished jazz musician Paquito D’Rivera – who fled Cuba after his musical style was condemned by the Castro regime as “imperialist” – wryly observes that “Castro’s black victims from Havana…haven’t been among [Glover’s] discoveries and affinities.” Listing the names of several black Cuban human-rights activists who’ve been imprisoned by the Castro regime, D’Rivera asks: “Has Danny Glover denounced the sentences perpetrated against these heroic black Cubans?…On the contrary, Glover’s solidarity is for the man who subjugates black Cubans.” Indeed, we’ve searched the Internet unsuccessfully for any indication that Glover has ever spoken up for any of the Cuban natives who’ve been incarcerated for criticizing their own government.

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Glover visiting Gerardo Hernández in prison

Glover was especially active in seeking the release of the so-called “Cuban Five” – a group of Cuban spies who were imprisoned in the U.S. for many years. (They’re now free.) The Cuban government itself admitted that they were spies, but this didn’t keep Glover from calling them “heroic men.” He became especially close to one of them, Gerardo Hernández, who’d also been convicted of conspiracy to commit murder (this for his involvement in the “shoot-down of unarmed civilian planes piloted by members of the Cuban exile group Brothers to the Rescue”). Glover visited Hernández frequently in prison, and described him as his “spiritual brother” and “one of the greatest people I ever met.”

This, then, is the real Danny Glover. And however many times you may see his name online preceded by the word “humanitarian,” just remember: it’s not exactly the mot juste.  

Danny Glover: lethally stupid

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Danny Glover, Hugo Chávez

We’ve devoted a certain amount of attention on this site to top-drawer Hollywood stooges like Sean PennRobert Redford, and Steven Seagal, but so far we’ve neglected to cover one of the most assiduous ones: Danny Glover, star of such films as The Color Purple and Lethal Weapon, and, um, Lethal Weapon 2, and – let’s see, what else? – oh, yes, Lethal Weapon 3 and Lethal Weapon 4. To read the most prominent sources, you’d think Glover is a prince of a guy. “He is an active supporter of various humanitarian and political causes,” reads his Wikipedia page. On IMDB, he’s identified as an “[a]ctor, producer and humanitarian.” On his own Facebook page he calls himself an “actor, producer, activist, and humanitarian”; the h-word is also front and center on his official website

Yet look beyond the PR and you’ll find that Glover’s outsized enthusiasm for despots makes some of his fellow Tinseltown tyrant-fans look almost irresolute by comparison.

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Danny Glover, Hugo Chávez

Let’s start with Venezuela. Glover was chummy with the late strongman Hugo Chávez for years: along with Harry Belafonte, Cornel West, and others, he met with the caudillo back in 2006. So close was he to Chávez that El Presidente actually set up financing for a couple of movies Glover planned to produce – one of them about Simón Bolívar, the other about Haitian rebel leader Toussaint L’Ouverture. (Neither of these films has yet materialized, although the latter is listed as forthcoming on Glover’s IMBD page.)

Glover’s love for the Caracas regime didn’t end with Chávez’s death. Last year, when a gang of the usual suspects, among them Oliver Stone and Tom Hayden, wrote a letter to the U.S. Congress expressing support for Chávez’s successor, Nicolás Maduro, Glover’s name led the list of signatories.

But Chávez isn’t the only dictator, alive or dead, with whom Glover’s been chummy. Guess who his other fave is? We’ll take a look at that friendship on Monday.  

 

Harry Belafonte, “unreconstructed Stalinist”

harry-belafonte1Harry Belafonte, now aged 88, is one of those maddening souls for whom the noble cause of civil rights is inextricable from its ignoble opposite – the enthusiasm for unfree societies and totalitarian ideologies.

Belafonte was a protégé of the great singer Paul Robeson – who, similarly, saw no contradiction between his activism on behalf of racial equality in the U.S. and his devotion to Stalinist tyranny in the USSR.

For a long time Belafonte seemed to many a reasonable, admirable figure. He was active in the U.S. civil-rights movement and spoke at the historic 1963 March on Washington. But as the years went by, he became increasingly outspoken in his support for tyrants. During the Cold War, he allowed himself to be used as a tool by the East German government. He’s also been a key player in the Africa-aid racket, raising billions in the West – supposedly to feed the poor – that have ended up in the pockets of dictators.

Historian Ronald Radosh has rightly called Belafonte an “unreconstructed Stalinist.” Last year Mona Charen called him “a die-hard communist” who “never met a communist government he didn’t like, including the genocidal regime of Mengistu in Ethiopia.” Indeed, when Belafonte had a twenty-minute conversation with Mengistu in 1985, they talked mostly about human-rights violations in South Africa – which, horrendous though they were, could not hold a candle to Mengistu’s atrocities. 

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Belafonte with Fidel Castro

He’s also frequently praised the Castro regime, saying in one 2002 interview that “there’s much about the Cuban government, the Cuban people and what they have achieved that many of us here are still trying to achieve.” At one Havana appearance, he condemned American “censorship.” And he’s raised money for a fund, named for the Soviet atom spies Ethel and Julius Rosenberg, that claims to provide “for the educational and emotional needs of children of targeted progressive activists, and youth who are targeted activists themselves.” Addressing a 2000 rally in Cuba honoring the Rosenbergs, he praised the Castro regime as exemplary of “the principles the Rosenbergs fought and died for.”

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Belafonte with Hugo Chávez

He loves the current Venezuelan government, too. During a 2006 visit to Venezuela, he called George W. Bush “the greatest terrorist in the world” and told Hugo Chávez on a national broadcast that “[n]ot hundreds, not thousands, but millions of the American people … support your revolution.”

Not long after President Obama’s re-election, Belafonte told Al Sharpton on MSNBC that Obama should behave “like a Third World dictator” and put his opponents “in jail.” All this, and still he’s routinely fêted as a humanitarian and social activist; indeed, the older he gets, the more honors he accumulates, and the more the media are inclined to treat him as a pillar of wisdom and virtue.