June 29, 2010

Private jet liberals

I wrote yesterday about Oliver Stone's slobbering love fest for Venezuelan strong-man Hugo Chávez. The left-leaning Village Voice (aside from Variety) takes Stone apart for his film fellatio about Chávez, noting his preposterous hypocrisy:

And yet Stone raises the specter of media manipulation when it suits him, devoting a whole section of the film to sympathetically presenting Chávez's argument that during the failed coup attempt of 2002, the Venezuelan media were so in the tank for his political opponents that they edited footage of rioting in the streets to make it look as if Chávez's supporters instigated a fire fight. The construction of false realities for political gain is the subject of much of Stone's own work—so why is he content to take each leader's practiced-for-the-camera spiel at face value, never pushing for information or conducting interviews on any deeper level than a photo op? South of the Border's subjects are masters at cooking bullshit, and Stone just eats it up.

Because, at least in part, Stone is a rich, pampered elitist, whose status and position makes him "see" (he believes) the lofty "goals" and "values" of rulers like Chávez (and Fidel Castro) -- and yet conveniently ignore the cold hard realities of their policies. Why? Good question. You think Stone would ever live as a typical Venezuelan or Cuban for any length of time? You think members of Congress (like idiot Maxine Waters) who've spoken favorably of Cuba would likewise do so?

Hell no.

I've always been fascinated by well-to-do lefties who just don't get it. Are they so enamored by the professed ideals of people like Chávez that they purposely block out the actual results? Or do they actually approve of the results -- jail for political differences, massive barriers to free speech, etc. -- at least in the short term, so that the ideal can be reached?

I've come to the conclusion that there are essentially two types of people who support people like Chávez, Castro, et. al.: Very well to-do "progressives" (usually foreigners) and the very destitute (usually natives). People in the middle usually want nothing to do with these thugs. I can understand the destitute; it's the reason why the double Cs got into power in the first place. After all, the majority of Latin American countries are poor. Costa Rica, where my ex is from and where I've spent a heck of a lot of time over the last 25 years, is one of the few L.A. countries with a sizable middle class -- and as such is a stable democratic nation which generally despises far-left politics.

There's my own grappling with far-left politics: It began in 1986 when I first went abroad (to Costa Rica) as a college junior to study. (Detailed here and here, among other places.) As noted in that first link, this was largely due to the influence of our accompanying professor. Dr. M clearly falls into the first category I noted -- a well to-do progressive. Whoa -- an American academic ... a progressive?? What a surprise, eh? Dr. M lectured to us and had us read about the virtues of the then-in progress Sandinista Revolution in neighboring Nicaragua. I became quite an opponent of the US-backed insurgency there, and Dr. M even noted that many of us should look into opportunities to study ... in Cuba!

And that's just it. I was studying. I wasn't a part of the [average] Nicaraguan (or Cuban) population. I was essentially on a big vacation where studying was only a [relatively small] part of the whole equation. I had enough money to do as I wished. In effect, it was a charade. It was far from reality. How in the f*** could I sit there and, based on what an academic and his choice of books said, judge the Sandinistas and Castroites as nothing but beneficient? (Side note: It was also around this time that I was rabidly pro-Palestinian. Another side effect of academic progressivism!)

By the time I was a grad student I had delved into the opposing side of the Sandinista-Contra question (not to mention the Palestinian-Israeli topic). There was clearly a lot more to the whole discussion than what had been presented by Dr. M, needless to say. So, again -- what is it that so arouses comfortable progressives to the poverty-inducing policies of people like Chávez? Is it a deeply-ingrained desire for "equality" at virtually all costs? The ultimate egalitarianism? Our own [leftist-dominated] education system is replete with such a philosophy. We cannot have "achievement gaps" among various racial/ethnic groups. Academic "tracking" is anathema. Honors and gifted classes with the "wrong" ethnic make-up are a no-no. Group work over direct instruction. Restrictions on free speech on campuses so as not to offend "historically aggrieved" groups. Etc. But all these efforts at "equality" only make people equally ... poor, destitute and wanting.

A good (leftist) friend recently visited some of his family in Cuba. He is furious at people like Stone because they are clueless. The only "equality" is in poverty, and the moral hypocrisy of the Castro regime is appalling; his tales of young girl prostitution that are outright ignored by the regime were sickening. Further south, average Venezuelans like the members of Los Amigos Invisibles and the myriad friends I have made from that country are all trying to get out, or, if they're already out, get their families out. These are average Venezuelans, folks, not rich elitists.

I'm not a big fan of those who put forth knee-jerk quips like "America, love it or leave it;" however, when it comes to "progressives" who unhesitatingly espouse the "virtues" of people like Hugo Chávez, Fidel Castro, (Bolivia's) Evo Morales, I will quickly ask them to go live in those "paradises" as a typical citizen for a period of not less than six months. They cannot take any of their American-earned cash with them. They have to live completely as a typical Venezuelan/Cuban/Bolivian citizen.

Think they'll want to come home after those six months?

Posted by Hube at June 29, 2010 02:09 PM | TrackBack

Comments  (We reserve the right to edit and/or delete any comments. If your comment is blocked or won't post, e-mail us and we'll post it for you.)

Good post, Hube. However, there's one thing I'd dispute:

After all, the majority of Latin American countries are poor. Costa Rica, where my ex is from and where I've spent a heck of a lot of time over the last 25 years, is one of the few L.A. countries with a sizable middle class -- and as such is a stable democratic nation which generally despises far-left politics.

Whether you go by count or by population the majority of Latin American countries are not poor. By World Bank standards most Latin American countries and an overwhelming majority of the population live in middle class countries. Consider Mexico, Costa Rica, Venezuela, Peru, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, and Uruguay. All middle class countries (by World Bank standards).

They do, however, have lots of very poor people in them. That points rather clearly to serious social problems, IMO the main reason that populist idiots like Chávez come to power.

Posted by: Dave Schuler at July 1, 2010 06:01 PM

Interesting, Dave. By World Bank standards, are you (they) using something like overall GDP per capita? That might make the country "middle class" even by our own standards; however, as you note, there remains a massive # of poor in those countries -- and in most (unlike Costa Rica, BTW) I'd wager the difference between rich and poor is quite disparate. Either you are rich, or you are poor. The actual # in the middle is relatively small. I'd be interested in seeing the stats if you have a link. :-)

Costa Rica early in its independence allowed average folk to buy and own land which precipitated the growth of the middle class (much like here). In countries like Venezuela and Peru, for example, much of the land was owned by the aristocratic very rich.

Posted by: Hube at July 1, 2010 06:50 PM

Whenever an American goes to one of these people's revolutionary paradise, he is confronted by shouts of "Yanqui Go Home!" followed by a low muttered "and take us with you!"

Posted by: empress trudy at July 5, 2010 08:24 AM