May 16, 2006


Thank you, my foolish friends in the West: Hugo Chavez of Venezuela is only the latest dictator-in-waiting to bask in adulation from western 'progressives' (Ian Buruma, 5/25/06, Times of London)

When the Cuban novelist Reinaldo Arenas managed to escape to the US in 1980, after years of persecution by the Cuban government for being openly homosexual and a dissident, he said: “The difference between the communist and capitalist systems is that, although both give you a kick in the ass, in the communist system you have to applaud, while in the capitalist system you can scream. And I came here to scream.”

One of the most vexing things for artists and intellectuals who live under the compulsion to applaud dictators is the spectacle of colleagues from more open societies applauding of their own free will. It adds a peculiarly nasty insult to injury.

Stalin was applauded by Sidney and Beatrice Webb. Mao was visited by a constant stream of worshippers from the West, some of whose names can still produce winces of disgust in China. Castro has basked for years in the adulation of such literary stars as Jose Saramago and Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Even Pol Pot found favour among several well-known journalists and academics.

Last year a number of journalists, writers and showbiz figures, including Harold Pinter, Nadine Gordimer, Harry Belafonte and Tariq Ali, signed a letter claiming that in Cuba “there has not been a single case of disappearance, torture or extra-judicial execution since 1959 . . .”

Arenas was arrested in 1973 for “ideological deviation”. He was tortured and locked up in prison cells filled with floodwater and excrement, and threatened with death if he didn’t renounce his own writing. Imagine what it must be like to be treated like this and then read about your fellow writers in the West standing up for your oppressors.

None of this is news, and would hardly be worth dredging up if the same thing were not happening once more. Hugo Chavez, the elected strongman of Venezuela, is the latest object of adulation by western “progressives” who return from jaunts in Caracas with stars in their eyes.

It was actually more discordant when the Left praised Mr. Arenas than when they praise Castro and Chavez, who are, after all, perfect egalitarians.

Posted by Orrin Judd at May 16, 2006 11:23 PM

One of the things barely noted by the media, but which may play a major part in the administration's current stance on the illegal immigration debate, is the upcoming Mexican election, in which Chavez-wannabe Andrs Manuel Lopez Obrador held a good-sized lead until recently, when PAN candidate Felipe Calderon began catching up in the polls.

Calderon of course, belongs to Vincente Fox's party, and it's hard to deny Fox has been a disappointment as president, given his close ties to Bush even prior to the 2000 presidential election. But a Calderon win would still be way better for the U.S. than a victory by Obrador, and a U.S. president seen following the Tom Tancredo playbook in the months leading up to the election probably wouldn't be a big plus for the incumbent party's re-election chances -- if the U.S. is going to be openly hostile to PAN, why not just elect the party that's openly hostile to the U.S.?

Bad enough to have Hugo fuming about and rattling the furniture in Venezuela -- to help elect by your actions someone who does that in the country right across the border would be a nightmare, and if Andres were to run Mexico the way Chavez has run Venezuela, would send a flood of immigrants towards the northern border that would make today's migration look like a trickle.

Posted by: John at May 17, 2006 12:13 AM

John: All the more reason to control the borders -- PAN can't remain in power forever.

Posted by: jd watson [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 17, 2006 4:55 AM

In which case people will need somewhere to go.

Posted by: oj at May 17, 2006 7:33 AM

JD --

There are lots of places along the border today that people won't try to cross because it's even more desolate than some of the places today that are called desolate crossings. That's mainly because while economic conditions may be bad, they're not bad enough to try and surmount an 800-foot canyon in 115-degree temperatures in July. But put a government like Hugo's in place in Mexico, and the situation down there may become so dire that even crossing at the most difficult places suddenly become viable options, given the alternative.

Having to institute border patrols along those areas, or build a Berlin Wall-type fence along the length of the Rio Grande, would really make people wince at the cost of having to react to Mexico voters' bad decision. Not having them vote that way in the first place is a much better option.

Posted by: John at May 17, 2006 9:25 AM

I read a comment here the other day that if Mexico goes Communist, they'll build their own wall changing border dynamics completely.

Posted by: erp at May 17, 2006 10:26 AM

WTF is this "Berlin wall" talk?

The Berlin wall was something a failed system used to keep people in. A secure border is something we use to stop a failed system from dumping its failure on us.

Posted by: Lou Gots at May 17, 2006 12:41 PM

Mr. Gots, a secure border is something we use to stop the good people in a failed system from escaping to us, which is why the Berlin wall was built, to keep the good people in a failed system from escaping to us. What is the difference?

Posted by: Robert Mitchell Jr. at May 17, 2006 12:56 PM

The Berlin Wall was a fully-connected barrier, with no gaps to allow the more determined to slip through. Real unrest in Mexico caused by confiscatory economic policies would force any border wall the U.S. erected to become as encompassing as the Russians' barrier in order to have any realistic effect of stemming the surge of people who would now be trying to cross. And the topography of Central Germany is a lot more condusive to guarding a border than some of the land in Arizona, New Mexico and Texas is.

(And if anyone think a far left government in Mexico would hermetically seal off the borders on their own, three words -- "Mariel Boat Lift". Instead of getting people looking for work heading for the border, we really would be faced with a government pushing not only their political dissidents but also the dregs of society across the northern boundary.)

Posted by: John at May 17, 2006 12:57 PM


Nativists think coyotes can't afford boats.

Posted by: oj at May 17, 2006 1:24 PM


Walling people into a failed state is the same no matter which side of the wall you guard.

Posted by: oj at May 17, 2006 1:25 PM

OJ, it all depends on if the people trying to escape said failed state want to bring that culture along with them, or if they instead want to adapt to the non-failed culture that they are escaping to.

The fact that huge numbers of them insist that we learn their language instead of them learning ours is all that a majority of Americans needs to know.

Posted by: fred at May 17, 2006 2:42 PM


Knowing a falsehood only demonstrates ignorance.

Posted by: oj at May 17, 2006 3:00 PM

fred, are you sure it's "they" who are insisting that we learn English? I think it's our home grown leftie PC moonbats who want to turn us into a third world country who are doing the insisting. Like the bilingual classes in public school. Immigrant parents are against them, but the teachers unions are pushing them hard.

Liberals want ignorant dependent immigrants to serve their purposes, we want to swell the ranks of well informed independent citizens to join us in keeping the U.S. the land of the free and home of the brave.

Posted by: erp at May 17, 2006 3:56 PM