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.

Catching up with the selectively proud Hanoi Jane

That famous picture

Last year, as a service to young people who were born long after Jane Fonda (she’s an elderly movie actress, ICYDK) made a fool of herself in Vietnam, we revisited that reprehensible 1972 incident, when – in the midst of a proxy war between her own country and its totalitarian foes – she traveled to North Vietnam, chummed around with its soldiers, read their propaganda aloud on the radio for an audience of American servicemen, praised the murderous North Vietnamese dictator Ho Chi Minh, called U.S. troops war criminals, urged members of the U.S. Air Force to disobey orders, and (last but not least) had her picture taken on an anti-aircraft battery.

Fraternizing with the enemy

Fonda has claimed innumerable times that the last-named action, which earned her the nickname “Hanoi Jane,” was “a two-minute lapse of sanity that will haunt me forever.” But it was more than a matter of just two minutes. And it was no lapse. At the time of her visit, Fonda was already a dyed-in-the-wool antagonist of her own nation and an outspoken friend of totalitarian Communism. “If you understood what communism was,” she told an audience in 1970, “you would hope, you would pray on your knees that we would some day become communist.” In her extensive whitewash of the North Vietnamese and Viet Cong, Fonda lied about their brutal treatment of American POWs – and then, after those POWs returned home and called her a liar, she had the nerve to call them liars. In more recent years, she’s taken part in Communist-led rallies, shared stages with Saddam Hussein’s chum George Galloway, vilified Israel, and said that her “biggest regret” was that she “never got to fuck Che Guevara.”

With Ted Turner. Communism pays off!

As we pointed out last year, authors Henry Mark Holzer and Erika Holzer published a whole book in 2002 in which they showed that Fonda’s actions in Vietnam amounted to treason. In Fonda’s own 2005 memoir she rewrote the whole episode, depicting herself as a tribune of peace rather than a Communist traitor. Of course, she’s a Communist traitor with a difference: for ten years, she was married to CNN honcho Ted Turner, one of the most powerful men in America as well as America’s largest private landowner. So she’s not just a world-class Communist; she’s a world-class Communist hypocrite.

Giving Megyn Kelly the evil eye earlier this month, in response to a question about plastic surgery

Since we dropped in on Hanoi Jane last year, she’s been in the news several times. At the Emmy Awards, on September 17, she and Lily Tomlin, with whom she appears in a Netflix series, Grace and Frankie, joined in calling President Trump “a sexist, egotistical, lying, hypocritical bigot.” (Their 9 to 5 co-star Dolly Parton, standing onstage between them, looked distinctly uncomfortable.) But that was relatively nothing. Later Fonda made headlines when, on The Today Show, Megyn Kelly dared to ask her about plastic surgery. Well, Fonda may believe in Communism, but it’s clear she also believes that the entertainment-media serfs shouldn’t dare pose certain questions to cinema royalty such as herself. She shot Kelly a look that could kill.

Tomlin, Dolly Parton, and Fonda at the 2017 Emmys

But let’s set that aside too, and move on to earlier this month, when she sat down for an interview with the BBC. Asked whether she was “proud of America today,” she replied with a quick, firm “no.” But, she added, “I’m proud of the resistance. I’m proud of the people who are turning out in unprecedented numbers and continue over and over and over again to protest what Trump is doing.” The topic of Vietnam came up – and again the lies came out. Rejecting the idea that she had been “siding with the enemy,” she claimed that after being photographed on that anti-aircraft battery, she’d thought: “Oh my gosh. It’s going to look like I am against my own country’s soldiers and siding with the enemy, which is the last thing in the world that was true.” Fonda is 79 now; presumably she will continue to promote this lie until she dies.

Still fabulous. And still dishonest!

But that wasn’t all. She actually tried to sell the idea that her trip had helped save “two million people who could have died of famine and drowning.” We don’t remember hearing her make this claim before. Fonda still looks fabulous, but perhaps the years are taking their toll on the old noggin. Or maybe it’s just another example of Celebrity Narcissism Syndrome, the symptoms of which do tend to intensify as time goes by. In any case, here’s her logic: “The United States was bombing the dikes in North Vietnam….If the dikes had given way, according to Henry Kissinger, somewhere around 2 million people could have died of famine and drowning. And we were bombing, and it wasn’t being talked about. And I thought, ‘Well, I’m a celebrity. Maybe if I go, and I bring back evidence.’ And it did stop two months after I got back, so I’m proud that I went.”

Another recent glamour shot

As far as we can tell, there aren’t any serious historians who feel that Fonda had anything to do with an end to the U.S. bombings. On the other hand, her visit didn’t exactly enhance American morale, and it could be that, in the long term, Fonda’s PR job for the enemy helped tip the balance toward ultimate U.S. withdrawal. But if you’re going to make that argument, you’re going to have to give Fonda a share of the responsibility for the fact that after the U.S. pulled out of Indochina, the Viet Cong murdered tens of thousands of South Vietnamese and the Khmer Rouge exterminated 1.5 to three million Cambodians. Are you proud of that, Jane?

Vanessa Redgrave’s hatred for “Zionist hoodlums”

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Vanessa Redgrave

Though Vanessa Redgrave is one of the world’s great actresses of stage and screen, and a member of the most renowned acting dynasty ever, she’s at least as well known for her politics as for her performances. The most famous moment of her career is still the speech she gave in 1978 upon winning the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her title role in Julia. Redgrave was already famous for her outspoken Marxism, her support for the PLO, and her hostility toward Israel, and she had just produced and narrated an anti-Israel documentary, The Palestinian, which had caused outrage among many American Jews. As a newspaper profile would point out many years later, by the time of that award ceremony her “reputation for hectoring radicalism had made her widely disliked.”

After being handed her Oscar by John Travolta, Redgrave expressed thanks for the honor and praised her co-star, Jane Fonda, and her director, Fred Zinneman. She then thanked the audience – or, at least, the Academy members present who had cast their ballots for her – for having “stood firm” and “refused to be intimidated by the threats of a small bunch of Zionist hoodlums.”

At the sound of the words “Zionist hoodlums” there were audible gasps from the audience – followed by a good deal of booing. Unruffled, Redgrave went on to maintain that by giving her the Best Supporting Actress nod, Academy voters had “dealt a final blow against that period when Nixon and McCarthy launched a worldwide witch-hunt against those who tried to express in their lives and their work the truth that they believe in.” In other words, by choosing to present that golden statuette to Redgrave rather than to one of her fellow nominees (Leslie Browne, Quinn Cummings, Melinda Dillon, and Tuesday Weld), the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences had finally brought the age of McCarthyism to an end.

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Redgrave and her brother Corin at an London antiwar rally in 1968

It was, all in all, a high point in the history of show-business vanity, self-importance, ideological hectoring, and moral posturing. And it shouldn’t have surprised anyone. Just a few years earlier, Redgrave and her brother Corin had joined a radical British faction called the Workers Revolutionary Party (WRP), and had immediately become its most famous and influential members. Corin had even bought a house in Derbyshire for the party to use as a training camp. Over the next few years, the WRP developed close ties to Muammar Gaddafi’s government in Libya, took money from him, and engaged in espionage on his behalf. The party also accepted payments from Saddam Hussein, on whose behalf its members photographed participants in demonstrations against Saddam’s regime. All this happened with the knowledge and approval of Vanessa Redgrave, who was twice an WRP candidate for for Parliament.

More tomorrow.

Rewriting Rwanda: John Pilger

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John Pilger

Who is John Pilger? Born in Australia in 1939, he worked as a reporter for the Sydney Daily Telegraph, then relocated in 1962 to Britain, where over the years he made a name for himself as a foreign correspondent, TV journalist, documentary maker – and, not least, as one of a small number of prominent scribes (among them Noam Chomsky, Robert Fisk, and Howard Zinn) who are famous for their anti-Western rancor. As is so often the case with such figures, his anti-Western rancor hasn’t kept Pilger from receiving honorary doctorates from several leading Western universities and from collecting a long list of major Western awards – an Emmy, a Peabody, a BAFTA, two nods for “Journalist of the Year,”multiple prizes from the UN, an award from Reporters without Borders, and a human-rights prize from Norway, among others.

Former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein yells at the court as the verdict is delivered during his trial held under tight security in Baghdad's heavily fortified Green Zone, Sunday Nov. 5, 2006. Iraq's High Tribunal on Sunday found Saddam Hussein guilty of crimes against humanity and sentence him to die by hanging. (AP Photo/David Furst, Pool)
Saddam Hussein

We saw yesterday that even after 9/11 Pilger couldn’t see Americans as ever, ever being victims. That atrocity and its aftermath evoked some of Pilger’s most wretched writings. It’s one thing to consider the whole “War on Terror” misguided or botched, and to deplore the collateral damage caused by coalition forces in Afghanistan and Iraq; it is quite another to look upon the utter savagery of Saddam or of Taliban jihadists, as Pilger did, with apparent indifference. (Indeed, Pilger openly declared that he was on Saddam’s side.) For him, as one critic wrote,

the people of Iraq, the terrorists, the psychopathic death squads, only exist in the dim and distant background. If they are mentioned at all…they are products of Western policy. They lack all agency. To all intents and purposes they are the absent party. They are non-persons; hapless nobodies…..There’s obviously a kind of racism at play here: only Westerners matter; and only then if they can be blamed.

It gets worse. In 2010, Pilger endorsed a book, The Politics of Genocide, in which Edward S. Herman and David Peterson denied the monstrous 1994 annihilation of the Tutsi in Rwanda by the Hutu majority. According to Herman and Peterson, the shoe was on the other foot: the Tutsi, in fact, had massacred the Hutu. Pilger called the book a “brilliant exposé of great power’s lethal industry of lies.” As one former admirer of Pilger commented: “In the Rwandan context, this is the equivalent of asserting that the Nazis never killed Jews in death camps – indeed, that it was really Jews who killed Germans.”

In Pilger’s view, we weren’t even the good guys in the Cold War: complaining in one 2005 essay about the history syllabi then in use at Oxford and Cambridge, he mocked the references to Soviet “expansionism” and the “spread” of Communism and protested the fact that “there is not a word about the ‘spread’ of rapacious America.”

(FILES) In this 04 September1999 file photo, Cuban President Fidel Castro discusses his request to the president of the International Olympic Committee in Havana for an investigation into the treatment of certain Cuban atheletes. Castro said the communist nation is not afraid of dialogue with the United States -- and not interested in continued confrontation with its powerful neighbor. The comments came as a group of US lawmakers visited Cuba this weekend to try to end nearly half a century of mutual distrust and amid reports that President Barack Obama was planning to ease economic sanctions on the island, including travel restrictions on Cuban-Americans. "We're not afraid to talk with the United States. We also don't need confrontation to exist, like some fools like to think," Castro, 82, said in an article on the Cubadebate website on April 5, 2009. AFP PHOTO/ADALBERTO ROQUE /FILES (Photo credit should read ADALBERTO ROQUE/AFP/Getty Images) Original Filename: Was672139.jpg
Fidel Castro

Of course he loves Cuba, which he first visited in 1967. In a 2011 article, he depicted that initial exposure to the Castros’ island as a fun, colorful, fiesta-like experience. The Cubans he met were uniformly delightful and friendly – but, he added, “the hardship of their imposed isolation left smiles diminished and eyes averted once the music had stopped.” And whose fault was that isolation? One guess. America’s, naturally. In fact, everything that went wrong with the Castro Revolution, it turns out, was America’s fault: the increasing poverty, the decrease in food supplies, the crumbling of infrastructure, etc., etc. Also, while America’s relations with the rest of the world are driven by a sheer lust for power, don’t you know, Cuba’s international relations are motivated by pure altruism: the “revolution,” Pilger maintained, echoing the Castros’ ludicrous propaganda, “sends tens of thousands of doctors across the world for the sole purpose of helping other human beings: an epic internationalism.”

And he was at least as fond of Hugo Chávez as he is of the Castros. More on that tomorrow.

George Galloway’s accounting methods

George Galloway arrives for the funeral of former Labour cabinet minister Tony Benn at St Margaret's Church, Westminster, central London.
Wide boy

In a 2005 article, the late, great Christopher Hitchens called George Galloway “a type well known in the Labour movement. Prolier than thou, and ostentatiously radical, but a bit too fond of the cigars and limos and always looking a bit odd in a suit that was slightly too expensive. By turns aggressive and unctuous, either at your feet or at your throat; a bit of a backslapper, nothing’s too good for the working class: what the English call a ‘wide boy.’” As Hitchens neatly put it, Galloway “has stayed just on the right side of many inquiries into his character and his accounting methods.”

You can say that again. When Galloway hasn’t been busy praising dictators or slandering lovers of freedom, he’s spent a lot of time participating in shady international money transfers, some of which involved fattening his own pockets, and some of which involved passing cash and merchandise on to terrorists and tyrants.

Christopher Hitchens, polemicist and frequent radio and TV commentator, debates with George Galloway, a member of the British parliament, in Baruch College in New York September 14, 2005. Galloway kicked off a tour for his new book "Mr. Galloway Goes To Washington, The Brit Who Set Congress Straight About Iraq" in Boston. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton
Christopher Hitchens

From 1983 to 1987, he ran a charity called War On Want. During his tenure, questions were raised about the organization’s less than transparent financial picture. Accused of having used the charity’s dough to “liv[e] the high life in dirt-poor countries,” as Hitchens put it, Galloway was forced to resign and to pay back a relatively small sum in “contested expenses.” There are those who believe that in this case, as in many others, the true dimensions of Galloway’s perfidy were covered up.

In 1998 he founded the Mariam Appeal, which purportedly aimed to provide medical help to people in Iraq. Galloway raked in huge sums from sheiks in the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, among others. Again, questions were raised about his personal use of the organization’s funds. The group was investigated several times by the U.K.’s Charity Commission, which chided Galloway for not registering it as a charity and not reporting on its finances as required by law. When the commission asked to see the Mariam Appeal’s books, they turned out to have been shipped off to Amman and Baghdad, far from prying British eyes. The whole thing looked extremely fishy, but once again Galloway got off with a slap on the wrist. The Mariam Appeal shut down in 2003.

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Faraz Zureikat

One of the Mariam Appeal’s big donors was Fawaz Zureikat, a Jordanian businessman whom Galloway eventually put in charge of the operation. In 2005, Zureikat became a focus of a U.S. Senate subcommittee’s investigation into Saddam Hussein’s abuses of the U.N. Oil-for-Food program, under which Saddam’s government, despite trade sanctions, had been allowed to sell oil to buy food and medicine. Galloway became a focus, too. Documents were reportedly uncovered showing that he, his then wife (Amineh Abu-Zayyad), and his campaign organization had all received shares of the illicit profits from Iraqi oil sales.

George Galloway - Elections...George Galloway with his wife Amineh after voting at Streatham in the in Local Goverment elections,London Mayoral election and European Parliamentary Elections. ... George Galloway - Elections ... 10-06-2004 ... LONDON ... UK ... PRESS ASSOCIATION photo. Photo credit should read: Michael Stephens/PA Archive. Unique Reference No. 1968245 ...
George Galloway and wife #2, Amineh Abu-Zayyad

Galloway admitted that some of the money made illegitimately through the exploitation of the U.N. Program had ended up in the coffers of the Mariam Appeal, but insisted that he hadn’t personally profited. So did his wife. (By the way, Galloway has been married four times and divorced thrice; his last three wives have been Muslims, whom he married in Islamic ceremonies.) Although the subcommittee sent reports detailing evidence of corruption on the part of both M. and Mme. Galloway to the U.S. Justice Department, to law officials in New York and the District of Columbia, to the ethics office of the British Parliament, and to the U.K.’s Charity Commission, no action was taken by any of these bodies.

George Galloway returns to his property on Ambleside Avenue, Stretham, with his new wife, Putri Gayatri Pertiwi. (please confirm Identity) 2/4/12
George Galloway and wife #4, Putri Gayatri Pertiwi

To be sure, he hasn’t just taken cash from hooligans – he’s distributed it, too. When he took part in the 2009 Viva Palestina convoy, he transported a substantial amount of illicit cash and merchandise which he handed over to the Hamas rulers of Gaza. He denied having done this, even though video footage showed him presenting bags of cash to these creeps.

We’ve noted earlier that both Galloway and his wife (this would be wife #4, Putri Gayatri Pertiwi) are on the payroll of Putin’s English-language TV station. Galloway is also a paid employee of Iran’s state-owned TV station, Press TV, and of the pro-Hezbollah TV station Al Mayadeen. You’ve got to hand it to him. When in modern times has a member of any national legislature in the Western world had fingers that were at once so sticky and so filthy?

Hamas, Hezbollah, and other friends of George Galloway

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George Galloway

Long-time socialist MP George Galloway was not only a friend of Saddam Hussein’s. In fact he’s had a lot of friends at the top in the Islamic world. This is, after all, as we’ve noted, a guy whose own Respect Party – which he joined after being expelled from Labour – is, in columnist Nick Cohen’s words, an “alliance… between the Trotskyist far left and the Islamic far right.” It’s thanks to the Islamic far right that Galloway was returned repeatedly to the House of Commons from his Muslim-heavy constituencies in London and Bradford. In a private speech that came to light soon after the 2010 parliamentary election, he credited the pro-sharia Islamic Forum of Europe with playing “the decisive role” in his victory that year. Repeatedly, he’s made clear to Islamists around the world that the support and devotion is mutual.

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Galloway accepting his Hamas passport

For example, he’s hooked arms with the creeps of Hezbollah, insisting repeatedly that it isn’t and “has never been a terrorist organisation!” He’s been a reliable supporter of Hamas, one of whose leaders, Ismail Haniya, issued him his own Palestinian passport in 2009. He’s provided succor to the Assad regime in Syria, defending its occupation of Lebanon by saying that “Syrian troops in Lebanon maintain stability and protect the country from Israel.” He’s worked for Iran’s Press TV and stood up against criticism of Iran, rejecting any suggestion that it’s a dictatorship and routinely shrugged off its execution of gay people. His argument: those put to death for being gay aren’t being executed for their sexual orientation but for “rape” and other “sex crimes.” In any event, he’s maintained, Westerners are using Iran’s mistreatment of gays as a means of demonizing Iran and inviting war.

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Nick Cohen

And he’s expressed eternal devotion to the Palestinians of Gaza, comparing them to the Jews in the Warsaw Ghetto – while likening their purported Israeli tormentors, of course, to the Nazis. Indeed, his denunciations of Israel have been as constant, and as passionately articulated, as his championing of oppressive Islamic regimes. In a 2014 speech, he pronounced Bradford an “Israeli-free zone”: “We don’t want any Israeli goods, we don’t want any Israeli services, we don’t want any Israeli academics coming to the university or the college, we don’t even want any Israeli tourists to come to Bradford, even if any of them had thought of doing so…..We reject this illegal, barbarous, savage state that calls itself Israel. And you have to do the same.” Note not only the foul anti-Semitism but the outrageous assumption that, as a Member of Parliament, he had any power to make any such declaration on behalf of Britain’s fourth-largest conurbation. This is a man whose every instinct is that of a despot.

But as we’ll see tomorrow, the autocrats on Galloway’s buddy list aren’t exclusively Muslim.

Saddam’s buddy

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Christopher Hitchens

Over the course of his long career in the Commons, George Galloway has become a unique figure on the British political landscape. Describing himself as a “revolutionary,” he hates Britain, hates America, hates the West, hates democracy, hates capitalism. And he hates them all so very much that he seems to love every form of despotism that represents a challenge to these things. The worst day of his life, he has said, was the day the USSR fell. As Christopher Hitchens once noted, Galloway has been involved ever since in “the pathetic search for an alternative fatherland.” He found it in Saddam’s Iraq, gushing that “just as Stalin industrialised the Soviet Union, so on a different scale Saddam plotted Iraq’s own Great Leap Forward.”

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With Saddam

While savaging leaders in the U.S., Britain, and elsewhere in the West, Galloway was an unapologetic fan of Saddam, whom he visited twice in Baghdad. In a 1994 speech, he addressed the bloodthirsty tyrant directly, saying: “Sir, I salute your courage, your strength, your indefatigability.” When Saddam invaded Kuwait, Galloway defended him, calling Kuwait – counterfactually – “clearly a part of the greater Iraqi whole, stolen from the motherland by perfidious Albion.” He also whitewashed Saddam’s massacre of Kurds and Shias, insisting that there was “massive violence on both sides.”

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With Usay

In 2002, the Mail published an “interview” Galloway held with Saddam, in which their chumminess comes through vividly. He also palled around with Saddam’s son Usay, known as “The Wolf,” whose own barbaric practices include the killing of thousands of people and the torturing of athletes who didn’t perform as well as expected. Recordings exist of George and Usay joking about weight loss and putting down the U.S. “I’d like you to know,” the Scots MP promised the Iraqi tyrant’s heir, “that we are with you till the end.”

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With Tariq Aziz

If he was friendly with Saddam and son, he was even closer to Saddam’s deputy premier, Tariq Aziz. While Aziz was in power, Galloway counseled him on warfare: “Don’t stand in lines, or hunker down in trenches….You will be mown down or buried alive.” When fighting a superpower, he advised, stay in motion. “I brought Tariq Aziz all the writings of Che Guevara and Mao Tse Tung on the arts of revolutionary war and he had them translated into Arabic,” Galloway later claimed. “Fight a war of movement, take the uniforms off, swim among the Iraqi people and whatever their views on the regime, they will undoubtedly provide deep aquifers of support for a patriotic resistance.”

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Galloway presenting Saddam with a pennant, 1994

In 2006, by which time Aziz had been taken into custody by U.S. forces, Galloway wrote him a letter of sympathy that began “Your excellency, dear brother, friend.” Describing Aziz’s detention as “cruel and unjustified,” Galloway told Aziz: “I have thought of you and of the long days and nights we spent in each other’s company….I have made many enemies in this struggle. They are your enemies also. They are my enemies because I am your friend.”

But Galloway’s Iraqi ties are only a tiny part of a very large and ugly picture. More tomorrow. 

CNN and tyrants: access at all costs

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Ted Turner

We’ve devoted a good deal of time here at Useful Stooges to Ted Turner, the founder of CNN who’s made billions through capitalism but has a very soft spot for Communism. This is a dude who’s insisted that North Korea is peaceable and called Fidel Castro a “great guy.” He owns over two dozen homes and is America’s second-largest landowner, but he demands that the ordinary proles should tackle global warming by reducing their carbon footprints. As for Islamic terrorism, he’s explained that 9/11 happened “because there are a lot of people living in abject poverty out there who don’t have any hope for a better life.”

He’s often spoken of CNN as if it were his child. Well, in this case, the apple didn’t fall far from the tree. The received wisdom is that of the three major cable-news operations, Fox News is conservative and MSNBC liberal, while CNN is in the middle, serving up objective, balanced reporting and treating both sides fairly.

Balderdash.

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Peter Arnett

When it comes to oppressive regimes – the type that shutter opposition media and imprison honest journalists – CNN’s policy has routinely been to retain access at all costs. Back in 1991, during the first Gulf War, CNN’s Peter Arnett was the only Western TV reporter in Baghdad, and, as such, according to Newsweek, provided “rare glimpses from inside Iraq,” even as he “provoked criticism that he and his network [were] being used as a conduit for Iraqi propaganda.” Arnett denied the charges vehemently: “Are we conduits for propaganda? It’s information….[The Iraqis] aren’t requiring me to report information; I’m not told what to write. I feel that what we are doing is giving a view which is not complete but is helpful, hopefully, for Americans and [people] elsewhere.”

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Eason Jordan

CNN’s access-at-any-price policy gained widespread attention again after 9/11, when many critics pointed to CNN’s unique ability to keep its reporters in Baghdad and attributed it – correctly – to the network’s systematic refusal to report on the dark side of Saddam’s regime. In a 2003 New York Times op-ed, “The News We Kept to Ourselves,” CNN news exec Eason Jordan admitted that on 13 trips to Baghdad over the previous dozen years, he’d seen and heard “awful things” that his network hadn’t reported. But instead of acknowledging that CNN had stayed mum to retain access, he took the line that it had stayed silent to protect “the lives of Iraqis, particularly those on our Baghdad staff.”

In the op-ed, Jordan told of an Iraqi CNN cameraman who’d been arrested and tortured by the secret police; he recalled the time Saddam Hussein’s son Uday confided in him plans to kill two of his relatives; and he noted that henchmen had once pulled an aide’s front teeth with pliers just to keep him in line. But CNN reported on none of these things. “I felt awful having these stories bottled up inside me,” Jordan claimed. But it was his decision to maintain CNN’s presence in Iraq nonetheless – resulting in reportage that every single day whitewashed the reality of life under Saddam.

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Christiane Amanpour

When the U.S. and its allies did finally invade Iraq, CNN continued to be reluctant to criticize Saddam’s regime – though it didn’t hesitate to go after the American government and military, and (especially) after news operations that weren’t so cozy with Saddam’s regime. The network’s own Christiane Amanpour actually smeared Fox News as being the Bush administration’s “foot soldiers” – in response to which Fox issued the statement saying, “It’s better to be viewed as a foot soldier for Bush than a spokeswoman for al-Qaeda.”

A Maoist’s day in court

Six counts of indecent assault, four counts of rape, two counts of bodily harm, one count of cruelty to a child under 16. These, as we saw yesterday, were the charges of which a Maoist cult leader by the name of Aravindan Balakrishnan was convicted in December in a London court.

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Rosie Davies

The child in question was Katy Morgan-Davies, who was born in 1983 and who, during her childhood and youth, was beaten regularly and prohibited from attending school or making friends. Her mother was a member of Balakrishnan’s commune, the Mao Zedong Memorial Centre, who died under suspicious circumstances in 1997. After Katy’s liberation from the commune, she told a BBC reporter that her father had “wanted the whole world to be like the collective where he is in charge and everybody is his slave.” Indeed, she said he “was using the sect as a ‘pilot unit’ to learn how to control people before taking over the world” – which made her think: “God, if the whole world is going to be like this, what way out is there? How am I going to live? I cannot live in this. So I used to think that the best way would be to die.”

mao-zedong1Katy had actually escaped once – way back in 2005 – only to be returned to her father by the police. In 2013, it was the police who saved her, plucking her out of her father’s homemade hell at a time when she suffering from diabetes and desperately in need of medical treatment. At Balakrishnan’s trial, Katy described the commune as the headquarters of a “hate cult” that “was full of violence and horror.” Calling her father a “narcissist and a psychopath,” she said: “The people he looked up to were people like Stalin, Mao and Pol Pot and Saddam Hussein – you couldn’t criticise them….They were his gods and his heroes. These were the sort of people he wanted to emulate.” She said she’d “felt like a caged bird with clipped wings” and had finally left the house because she “didn’t want to live like an animal anymore.”

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Judge Deborah Taylor

One detective said that Katy had been so profoundly indoctrinated that when she finally was freed from the house, she “genuinely believed…she was going to explode – that her life would come to an end.”

In late January, Balakrishnan was finally sentenced to 23 years in prison by Judge Deborah Taylor, who told him in open court that he’d been “ruthless” in his “exploitation” of his followers, that he’d “engendered a climate of fear, jealousy and competition for [his] approval,” that he’d treated his daughter like “an experiment,” subjecting her to “a catalogue of mental and physical abuse,” and that these were “grave and serious crimes conducted over a long period of time” for which he had “shown no remorse whatsoever.”

Aravindan-Balakrishnan
Aravindan Balakrishnan

Ideologically, of course, what Balakrishnan preached was hardly orthodox Maoism. But in his intellectual tyranny, and his employment of physical abuse and psychological terror to enforce his power, he was a Maoist through and through – a man expertly schooled in the ways of totalitarianism. And the fact that this bullying mediocrity was able to draw so many followers only reflects the perennial power of utopian ideology to attract the gullible and psychologically needy.

CNN founder Ted Turner: master of hypocrisy

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Ted Turner

Recently we spent a couple of days scratching our heads over Jane Fonda‘s lifelong career as a fleabrained enthusiast for totalitarianism. Now it’s time to train the camera on this aging fluffhead’s third husband, Ted Turner, the billionaire founder of CNN, godfather (in the eyes of some observers) of cable TV itself, and currently the second largest landowner in the U.S., with more acreage, all told, than the states of Delaware and Rhode Island put together. (Until recently he was #1, but another media tycoon, John Malone, edged ahead of him.)

You’d think, given his remarkable financial success (he’s now worth over $2 billion), that, unlike his ditzy ex-wife (they divorced in 2001), Turner must be quite the sharp cookie. Indeed he has to be some kind of a business genius – many of those who’ve worked with him over the years have said so, and his own accomplishments can hardly be explained otherwise. But to peruse the record of his public statements on various issues is to be gobsmacked by what seems nothing less than a stunning combination of foolishness, nuttiness, ignorance, and immaturity. (And we’re talking about a man who’s now 72 years old.)

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With Jane Fonda at the 1992 Emmys

Like Fonda, Turner is on the extreme political left, loath to criticize the likes of Fidel Castro, Saddam Hussein, or North Korea’s Kims but quick to compare Fox News or people like George W. Bush to Hitler. Like Fonda, too, he’s a world-class hypocrite. As of 2012, when he was profiled by Stephen Galloway in the Hollywood Reporter, Turner was spending his time jetting privately from one of his 28 (yes, 28) homes to another – and was, at the same time (no joke) identifying himself as a passionate environmentalist who found it “heartbreaking” that “the Tea Party…say that global warming is a hoax.” In a list he’s drawn up of “11 Voluntary Initiatives,” Turner vows “to care for Planet Earth and all living things thereon, especially my fellow beings.” Back in 2001, Ken Auletta reported on Turner’s climate hysteria: “In a hundred years, he believes, New York will be under water and it will be ‘so hot the trees are going to die.’” As of July 2015, when Turner was interviewed by CNN’s Cristiane Amanpour, “protect[ing] the environment” remained his “current aim,” as demonstrated by the fact that his car was “adorned with two bumper stickers, proclaiming: ‘Save the Planet’ and ‘Save Everything.’” In short: do as I say, not as I do. 

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One of Ted Turner’s 28 residences

Another cute little hypocrisy: Turner has had five kids, but in 2010 he called for an international directive that would penalize couples for having more than one child. (He’s openly praised the Communist Chinese government for its one-child policy, which has resulted in the widespread murder of baby girls by their parents.)

But Turner’s biggest hypocrisy is the fact that he’s a billionaire with a soft spot – and a blind spot – when it comes to Communism. We’ll get into the details – of which there are many – next time.