“Fossil fuels are literally choking the life from us, that action must be powerful and wide-ranging. After all, the climate crisis is not just about the environment. It is a crisis of human rights, of justice, and of political will. Colonial, racist, and patriarchal systems of oppression have created and fueled it. We need to dismantle them all. Our political leaders can no longer shirk their responsibilities.” — Greta Thunberg
Greta is eleven years old and has gone two months without eating. Her heart rate and blood pressure show clear signs of starvation. She has stopped speaking to anyone but her parents and younger sister, Beata.
After years of depression, eating disorders, and anxiety attacks, she finally receives a medical diagnosis: Asperger’s syndrome, high-functioning autism, and OCD. She also suffers from selective mutism—which explains why she sometimes can’t speak to anyone outside her closest family. When she wants to tell a climate researcher that she plans a school strike on behalf of the environment, she speaks through her father.
The book Scenes from the Heart (“Scener från Hjärtat,” 2018) recounts these medical difficulties and the events that led to Greta Thunberg’s now-famous “school strike for climate,” in which hundreds of thousands of children have refused to attend school to protest about government inaction over climate change. Greta herself strikes every Friday and spent three weeks sitting outside the Swedish Parliament at the beginning of the school year. Written by her family—mother, father, Beata and Greta—the story is told in the voice of Greta’s mother, the opera soprano Malena Ernman, who was a celebrity in Europe long before her daughter’s fame. Although the book is only available in Swedish for the time being, it is already being translated into numerous languages—a development that reflects the global fascination with Thunberg’s campaign.
We are offered a story of “a family in crisis and a planet in crisis”—two phenomena that are presented as inextricably linked. The book posits that oppression of women, minorities, and people with disabilities stem from the same overarching root problem as climate change: an unsustainable way of life. The family’s private crisis and the global climate crisis, the authors argue, are simply symptoms of the same systemic disorder.
Greta is not alone in her mental suffering, according to the book. Her sister Beata, who was 12 when the book was written, lives with ADHD, Asperger’s syndrome, and OCD. She is prone to sudden outbursts of anger, during which she screams obscenities at her mother. What would normally be a 10-minute walk to dance class takes almost an hour because Beata insists on walking with her left foot in front, refuses to step on certain parts of the sidewalk, and demands that her mother walk the same way. She also insists that her mother wait outside during class—she isn’t allowed to move, even to go to the bathroom. The child still ends up weeping in her mother’s arms.
I do not wish to suggest that Greta is too young to understand the consequences of her actions, nor that the challenges she faces make her unsuitable to take a stand on political issues, or even to lead a global movement. No one who has heard her address world leaders in impeccable English can doubt that she is very intelligent. Ernman also stresses that her daughter has never felt better than during her campaign for the climate. Greta herself has said that realizing that she could do something about climate change has helped her recover.
I am also not questioning Greta’s role as a public speaker, nor the power of hundreds of thousands of protesting school children, nor that climate change is an existential threat to humankind.
But adults have a moral obligation to remain adults in relation to children and not be carried away by emotions, icons, selfies, images of mass protests, or messianic or revolutionary dreams.
Greta was recently named ”Woman of the Year” by a Swedish newspaper. But she is not a woman, she is a child. It is time we stopped to ask if we are using her, failing her, and even sacrificing her, for what we perceive to be a greater good.
Take note of Article IV, Section 4 of the Constitution reads:
“The United States shall guarantee to every state in this union a republican form of government…”
I tell my kids that we do not have a democracy, but a Democratic REPUBLIC; and I am basing these on the Constitution and the authors (and signers) understanding of it (commonly referred to as “original intent”). Our Founders had an opportunity to establish a democracy in America but chose not to. In fact, they made very clear that we were not – and never to become – a democracy:
James Madison (fourth President, co-author of the Federalist Papers and the “father” of the Constitution) – “Democracies have ever been spectacles of turbulence and contention; have ever been found incompatible with personal security, or the rights of property; and have, in general; been as short in their lives as they have been violent in their deaths.”
John Adams(American political philosopher, first vice President and second President) – “Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There never was a democracy yet that did not commit suicide.”
Benjamin Rush (signer of the Declaration) – “A simple democracy… is one of the greatest of evils.”
Fisher Ames (American political thinker and leader of the federalists [he entered Harvard at twelve and graduated by sixteen], author of the House language for the First Amendment) – “A democracy is a volcano which conceals the fiery materials of its own destruction. These will provide an eruption and carry desolation in their way.´ / “The known propensity of a democracy is to licentiousness [excessive license] which the ambitious call, and the ignorant believe to be liberty.”
Governor Morris(signer and penman of the Constitution) – “We have seen the tumult of democracy terminate… as [it has] everywhere terminated, in despotism…. Democracy! Savage and wild. Thou who wouldst bring down the virtous and wise to thy level of folly and guilt.”
John Quincy Adams (sixth President, son of John Adams [see above]) – “The experience of all former ages had shown that of all human governments, democracy was the most unstable, fluctuating and short-lived.”
Noah Webster (American educator and journalist as well as publishing the first dictionary) – “In democracy… there are commonly tumults and disorders….. therefore a pure democracy is generally a very bad government. It is often the most tyrannical government on earth.”
John Witherspoon (signer of the Declaration of Independence) – “Pure democracy cannot subsist long nor be carried far into the departments of state – it is very subject to caprice and the madness of popular rage.”
Zephaniah Swift(author of America’s first legal text) – “It may generally be remarked that the more a government [or state] resembles a pure democracy the more they abound with disorder and confusion.”
Critics have long derided the Electoral College as a fusty relic of a bygone era, an unnecessary institution that one day might undermine democracy by electing a minority president. That day has arrived, assuming Gov. Bush wins the Florida recount as seems likely.
The fact that Bush is poised to become president without a plurality of the vote contravenes neither the letter nor the spirit of the Constitution. The wording of our basic law is clear: The winner in the Electoral College takes office as president. But what of the spirit of our institutions? Are we not a democracy that honors the will of the people? The very question indicates a misunderstanding of our Constitution.
James Madison’s famous Federalist No. 10 makes clear that the Founders fashioned a republic, not a pure democracy. To be sure, they knew that the consent of the governed was the ultimate basis of government, but the Founders denied that such consent could be reduced to simple majority or plurality rule. In fact, nothing could be more alien to the spirit of American constitutionalism than equating democracy will the direct, unrefined will of the people.
Recall the ways our constitution puts limits on any unchecked power, including the arbitrary will of the people. Power at the national level is divided among the three branches, each reflecting a different constituency. Power is divided yet again between the national government and the states. Madison noted that these two-fold divisions — the separation of powers and federalism — provided a “double security” for the rights of the people.
What about the democratic principle of one person, one vote? Isn’t that principle essential to our form of government? The Founders’ handiwork says otherwise. Neither the Senate, nor the Supreme Court, nor the president is elected on the basis of one person, one vote. That’s why a state like Montana, with 883,000 residents, gets the same number of Senators as California, with 33 million people. Consistency would require that if we abolish the Electoral College, we rid ourselves of the Senate as well. Are we ready to do that?
The filtering of the popular will through the Electoral College is an affirmation, rather than a betrayal, of the American republic. Doing away with the Electoral College would breach our fidelity to the spirit of the Constitution, a document expressly written to thwart the excesses of majoritarianism. Nonetheless, such fidelity will strike some as blind adherence to the past. For those skeptics, I would point out two other advantages the Electoral College offers.
First, we must keep in mind the likely effects of direct popular election of the president. We would probably see elections dominated by the most populous regions of the country or by several large metropolitan areas. In the 2000 election, for example, Vice President Gore could have put together a plurality or majority in the Northeast, parts of the Midwest, and California.
The victims in such elections would be those regions too sparsely populated to merit the attention of presidential candidates. Pure democrats would hardly regret that diminished status, but I wonder if a large and diverse nation should write off whole parts of its territory. We should keep in mind the regional conflicts that have plagued large and diverse nations like India, China, and Russia. The Electoral College is a good antidote to the poison of regionalism because it forces presidential candidates to seek support throughout the nation. By making sure no state will be left behind, it provides a measure of coherence to our nation.
Second, the Electoral College makes sure that the states count in presidential elections. As such, it is an important part of our federalist system — a system worth preserving. Historically, federalism is central to our grand constitutional effort to restrain power, but even in our own time we have found that devolving power to the states leads to important policy innovations (welfare reform).
If the Founders had wished to create a pure democracy, they would have done so. Those who now wish to do away with the Electoral College are welcome to amend the Constitution, but if they succeed, they will be taking America further away from its roots as a constitutional republic.
How did the terms “Elector” and “Electoral College” come into usage?
The term “electoral college” does not appear in the Constitution. Article II of the Constitution and the 12th Amendment refer to “electors,” but not to the “electoral college.” In the Federalist Papers (No. 68), Alexander Hamilton refers to the process of selecting the Executive, and refers to “the people of each State (who) shall choose a number of persons as electors,” but he does not use the term “electoral college.”
The founders appropriated the concept of electors from the Holy Roman Empire (962 – 1806). An elector was one of a number of princes of the various German states within the Holy Roman Empire who had a right to participate in the election of the German king (who generally was crowned as emperor). The term “college” (from the Latin collegium), refers to a body of persons that act as a unit, as in the college of cardinals who advise the Pope and vote in papal elections. In the early 1800’s, the term “electoral college” came into general usage as the unofficial designation for the group of citizens selected to cast votes for President and Vice President. It was first written into Federal law in 1845, and today the term appears in 3 U.S.C. section 4, in the section heading and in the text as “college of electors.”…
Thomas Sowell is an American economist, turned social theorist, political philosopher, and author. He is currently Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University. In this talk from May 2018, he explains one simple test to decide whether Marxism is true.
Check out the full interview via the Hoover Institute:
Dennis Prager interviews Michael Walsh who writes for the NEW YORK POST as well as PJ MEDIA. Michael is on for his book being released in paperback, “The Devil’s Pleasure Palace: The Cult of Critical Theory and the Subversion of the West.” The conversation was interesting, I even enjoyed the “conductor talk,” but alas, I am keeping this upload directed at the political. A great conversation and a humbling of myself who stayed anti-Trump till the last month-and-a-half before the election. The article mentioned by these two, “The Flight 93 Election,” can be found at CLAREMONT INSTITUTE … near the end they discussed the previous hour about cultural appropriation, that segment can be found HERE.
I am a new fan of Michael’s and look forward to reading his work. Follow him on TWITTER.
This is an excerpt dealing with some short biographies of people Obama chose to surround himself with. You can see they are radicals who export Marxist ideals into public policy as well as some overtly anti-American positions. I would say “enjoy” the read, but I cannot.
William J. Murray, Utopian Road to Hell: Enslaving America and the World With Central Planning (Washington, D.C.: WND Books, 2016), 165-174.
Cass Sunstein was the Edward Mandell House/Rexford Tugwell character in the Obama administration. He was appointed to run Obama’s White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs in 2009. He left the administration in 2011 to return to Harvard, where he continues to brainwash his students into supporting his anti-Constitutional and totalitarian beliefs.
Sunstein is the consummate Progressive and utopian tyrant. He believes that the Constitution is a “living document”—code words for liberal judges having the power to interpret the Constitution and law in general to support the latest leftist political agenda.
Writing in The Partial Constitution (Harvard University Press, 1993), Sunstein pushed the idea of a “First Amendment New Deal,” which would create a government panel of experts to ensure a “diversity of views” on the airwaves. Imagine a panel of presidential appointees determining what constitutes diversity on TV and radio.
Sunstein also believes hunting should be banned, that animals should have the same rights as humans, and that lawyers should be empowered to file lawsuits on behalf of animals. Despite being against the killing of rabbits or deer, he is, like all Progressives, perfectly agreeable to destroying unborn humans at any stage of pregnancy.
In 2004 he published A Second Bill of Rights: FDR’s Unfinished Revolution and Why We Need It More Than Ever. In it, he proposed a series of “rights” for individuals that would inevitably result in greatly expanding the power of the federal government over every aspect of our lives.
According to Sunstein, “Much of the time, the United States seems to have embraced a confused and pernicious form of individualism. This approach endorses rights of private property and freedom of contract, and respects political liberty, but claims to distrust ‘government intervention’ and insists that people must fend for themselves. This form of so-called individualism is incoherent, a tangle of confusions.”
Sunstein’s views sound like those of Benito Mussolini or Philip Dru in the utopian novel.
President Obama appointed John Holdren to run the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and to cochair the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology.
Holdren sounds like a very dangerous tyrant in his written statements on population control and other issues. In 1977 he coauthored a book with Paul R. and Anne H. Ehrlich, titled Ecoscience: Population, Resources, Environment (W. H. Freeman, 1978), which seriously proposed, among other things, that women should be forced to abort their children; that populations should be sterilized by dropping drugs into the water supply; that people who “contribute to social deterioration” should be forcibly sterilized or forced to abort their children; that a “Planetary Regime” should assume total control of the global economy; and that an international police force should be used to dictate how all of us are to live our lives.
Because this was a White House office, the Senate did not have the authority to stop the appointment; however, some senators should have come forward and pointed out on the record that Holdren’s suggestions were very much the same as those of fascist utopian Adolf Hitler.
Holdren openly condemns the free enterprise system as the enemy of the people and a threat to the environment. Writing in his 1973 book, Human Ecology: Problems and Solutions, also cowritten with the Ehrlichs, he called for a “massive campaign . . . to de-develop the United States” and other Western nations.
According to Holdren, the “mad czar” of science and technology:
De-development means bringing our economic system (especially patterns of consumption) into line with the realities of ecology and the global resource situation…. The need for de-development presents our economists with a major challenge. They must design a stable, low-consumption economy in which there is a much more equitable distribution of wealth than in the present one. Redistribution of wealth both within and among nations is absolutely essential if a decent life is to be provided for every human being.
Elsewhere, he wrote, “By de-development, we mean lower per-capita energy consumption, fewer gadgets, and the abolition of planned obsolescence.”
The Soviet Union successfully did away with “planned obsolescence” by eliminating innovation. As no new cars were designed for decades, vehicles like the unsafe Lada lived on unchanged for decades. Like many Progressives who believe jobs should be “preserved” as a right, Holdren does not understand that artificially preserving outdated industries and nonproductive jobs results in a failure for new industries to come into existence.
Dr. Berwick was picked by President Obama to run the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Knowing that Berwick’s views were so radical, Obama used a recess appointment to get him into this position so he wouldn’t have to undergo Senate scrutiny. Once his recess gig expired, he simply resigned to avoid having to answer questions under oath before a Senate committee.
Berwick has an open love affair with the British National Health Service (NHS). In his own words, “I’m romantic about the National Health Service. I love it!” In fact, he loves it so much that he says it is an “example for the whole world—an example… that the United States needs now.” ‘Why? Because he considers America’s health care system to be “immoral” and an example of the “darkness of private enterprise.” And in typical utopian-tyrant fashion, he believes that only government-enforced “collective action” can override “individual self-interest.”
He was, however, a bit more honest than his boss, President Obama. He openly admitted that under Obamacare, “the decision is not whether or not we will ration care, the decision is whether we will ration with our eyes open.” Conservatives always find this a terrifying thing about central planners—their willingness, even eagerness, to assume the role of making life-and-death decisions about the fate of other individuals.
So, how is the love of his socialist life working for British citizens, keeping in mind that this is the same system he wanted to bring to the United States? The Boston Globe shares some quotes from UK newspapers:
“Overstretched maternity units mean mothers face a 100-mile journey to have baby.”
“Hundreds of patients died needlessly at NHS hospital due to appalling care.”
“Cash-strapped NHS trust introduces rationing for common children’s conditions.”
“Standard of care in some wards ‘would shame a third world country.”‘
And to top it all off, in Britain 36 percent of patients wait more than four months for nonemergency surgery. In America, only 5 percent do.
According to Berwick, “Any healthcare funding plan that is just, equitable, civilized and humane, must redistribute wealth from the richer among us to the poorer and the less fortunate. Excellent healthcare is by definition distributional.”
That sounds familiar, doesn’t it? From Woodrow Wilson, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and Lyndon Johnson to Barack Obama, there’s a clear socialist utopian model in play that results in the control of Americans’ lives through rationed medical care.
These are only three of the most high-profile utopian totalitarians to serve in the Obama administration, but they are typical of those whom the president picked to assist in an Imperial Presidency in which central planning of society has become the goal.
First Lady Michelle Obama and former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg are what could be politely referred to as the “Food Police” by the vast majority of Americans who prefer to choose their own foods. A more accurate description would be Food Nazis, because they both desire to dictate to Americans what they will eat, how much they will eat, and what size portions they will be served at restaurants.
Mrs. Obama’s mind-set about Americans may be defined by her husband’s definition of her during pre—White House years as his “bitter half.” Apparently even President Obama knew that his wife was not capable of seeing a glass half full; how, then, could she possibly see that a hamburger with lettuce and tomato was actually a balanced meal?
Michelle Obama decided early on that she would seize the issues of “childhood obesity” and “food deserts” as her crusade while inhabiting the White House. She and her utopian handlers created the “Let’s Move” campaign to force restaurants, schools, and parents to feed children more “nutritious” meals. Initially she wanted a mere $400 million from taxpayers for her program.
Walter Williams was warning against this years ago:
Without any real evidence, Mrs. Obama has claimed that poor Americans are trapped in what she calls “food deserts,” where they must apparently trudge for miles outside of their dismal neighborhoods to buy a piece of fruit or some celery sticks. According to Mrs. Obama, a food desert is an inner city without a grocery store. She envisioned spending millions of federal dollars to plant grocery stores in those blighted areas so the “poor” won’t have to buy food at mini-marts.
Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Shaun Donovan actually attended Al Sharpton’s National Action Network annual con‑
vention in April 2012. There he told an absurd story about how Barack Obama, who attended Harvard University, knows what “it’s like to take a subway or a bus just to find a fresh piece of fruit in a grocery store.” No fruit at Harvard?
The story may be ridiculous, but Michelle Obama was dead serious about extorting $400 million from American taxpayers to solve the nonexistent problem of food deserts.
In reality there are no such things as food deserts. Researcher Roland Sturm at the Rand Corporation studied food desert claims and found that individuals in urban areas can get any kind of food they want within a couple of miles. He suggested we call these areas “food swamps,” rather than food deserts.
In addition, researcher Helen Lee at the Public Policy Institute in California found that in poor neighborhoods, citizens had twice as many fast-food restaurants and convenience stores as wealthier neighborhoods had, and more than three times as many corner stores. These areas had twice as many supermarkets and large-scale grocery stores as wealthier neighborhoods.
The truth was exactly the opposite of Mrs. Obama’s claim, but hers satisfied the mind-set of the utopians, who believe they alone could solve problems that never existed. Mrs. Obama later began a second crusade to force restaurants and schools to serve “healthy” foods, ban “junk food,” and bully restaurants into serving smaller portions.
Michelle Obama worked in 2010 to get Congress to pass a nutrition bill that would give the Department of Agriculture new powers to regulate school lunches. The bill was passed in December of that year, and now that the regulations have gone into effect, it is having a devastating impact on students and their angry parents.
Under Department of Agriculture edicts, cinnamon rolls and chili are banned. School bands and groups can’t sell candy bars for fund-raising. The government is now mandating portion sizes, including how many tomatoes must go into a salad!
Children are permitted to refuse three items on a tray, but not fruits and vegetables. Of course, the Food Police can’t yet force them to eat their veggies, but it’s not far-fetched to think they might someday. After all, the Obamas have rammed through legislation that initially demanded that nuns buy insurance coverage for contraception and pregnancy. Fortunately the Supreme Court ended that requirement in 2014.
The new federal guidelines, thanks to Michelle Obama, now limit caloric intake to between 750 and 850 a day for schoolchildren. Teenagers require between 2,000 and 3,000 calories a day to be healthy and grow, and high school athletes need up to 5,000 calories per day. In short, the First Lady is responsible for malnourishing kids through the school lunch program.
In 2006 the three-term mayor of New York City, Michael Bloomberg, decided to add the title “Food Police Chief’ to his list of duties in the Big Apple. That year, he banished trans fats from city restaurants and, in 2010, forced food manufacturers to alter their recipes to include less sodium. He failed, however, to remove salt shakers from the tables. Patrons who receive a dish of food at a New York restaurant that they deem not salty enough may still simply add salt.
In spring 2012 Bloomberg decided that New Yorkers had to be protected even more from themselves, so he issued an edict banning soft drinks larger than sixteen ounces. The ban applied to restaurants, movie theaters, stadiums, and arenas.
In August 2012 Bloomberg banned the distribution of baby formula in city hospitals unless it is medically necessary because he, a man, had decided that new mothers should always breast-feed regardless of their weight, professions, or other personal details. Free formula provided to mothers was also eliminated. Bloomberg determined that breast-feeding is best for children and that new mothers should not have a voice in the decision regardless of their circumstances. But Bloomberg did want women to have freedom of choice to kill their young before they are born. He was willing to give moms the option to abort their unborn babies, but not to feed formula to those who are living.
What is next for those like Obama and Bloomberg? Mandated calisthenics each morning at six? Currently the United States seems to be incubating and hatching utopian tyrants at an alarming rate.
[Green on the outside, “red” on the inside]
America is threatened not only by the Food Nazis, but by the Watermelon Utopians, who are working to destroy our industrialized civilization and bring us back to an agrarian society in the name of the environment.
These are the Watermelons. They’re Red (Marxist-Leninist) on the inside, but are using the Green movement on the outside to promote totalitarian central-planned government.
The poster child for this Watermelon movement is Van Jones, a Marxist with a nice smile who hates free enterprise just a bit less than nuclear power and fossil fuels.
In March 2009 President Obama picked Jones to be his “Green Jobs Czar.” In September 2009 Jones resigned after television host Glenn Beck exposed the fact that Jones was a militant Marxist radical.
After his departure from the Obama administration, Jones went to work at the Center for American Progress, a socialist group funded by one-worlder George Soros. Jones also began teaching at Princeton University at the African American Studies and Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. He is a “senior fellow” at the Center for American Progress and is an advisor for the extremist group Green for All, which he founded in 2007.
In an unsurprising way, Van Jones symbolizes the support Barack Obama received from the left that helped him win two terms. Jones also highlights the vast portion of the US population who do want the government to take care of all their needs and are willing to allow government to be the god of their lives in return.
Jones openly said he became a Communist shortly after the 1992 Rodney King riots and the trial. According to Jones, “I was a rowdy nationalist on April 28th” and “by August, I was a communist.”
In 1993 he moved to San Francisco and helped found the Bay Area Police Watch, which demonized the police in that city. In 1996 he founded the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, designed to undermine the criminal justice system, which he saw as unjust to minorities. The Baker Center received more than $1 million from George Soros’s Open Society Institute.
As Jones’s commitment to Marxist-type central planning grew in the late ’90s, he became a leader of the group called STORM (Standing Together to Organize a Revolutionary Movement).
Then in 2006 Jones endorsed an antipolice day held by the Maoist Revolutionary Communist Party. Jones considers all American prisons to be racist and nothing more than “slave ships on dry land.”
As a green activist, Jones demanded that America “build a pipeline from the prison economy to the green economy.” He wants the federal government to hire ex-felons to work in “green jobs” to do weather-stripping for energy efficiency in homes and offices. He did not mention if the home and business owners would be informed of workers’ felony convictions.
According to Jones, in an interview on Uprising Radio in Los Angeles, “The green economy will start off as a small subset” of a “complete revolution” against what he calls “gray capitalism.” The goal is the “redistribution of all wealth.”
Part of this anticapitalist effort is being accomplished through Green for All, funded in part by George Soros and our incredibly wealthy former vice president Al Gore—a true multimillionaire of the people. The organization’s alleged purpose is “building an inclusive green economy strong enough to lift people out of poverty.” In reality the plan would use taxpayer dollars to fund centrally planned government-run boondoggles in the inner cities.
Jones has openly admitted that his green agenda is designed to destroy capitalism. “We are going to push it and push it until it becomes the engine for transforming the whole society,” he said.
…that “what Columbus did to the Arawaks of the Bahamas, Cortez did to the Aztecs of Mexico, Pizarro to the Incas of Peru, and the English settlers of Virginia and Massachusetts to the Powhatans and the Pequots.” It simply is not true that the farmers of the Chesapeake colonies in the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries avidly desired the importation of black slaves, or that the gap between rich and poor widened in the eighteenth-century colonies. Zinn gulps down as literally true the proven hoax of Polly Baker and the improbable Plough Jogger, and he repeats uncritically the old charge that President Lincoln altered his views to suit his audience. The Geneva assembly of 1954 did not agree on elections in a unified Vietnam; that was simply the hope expressed by the British chairman when the parties concerned could not agree. The United States did not back Batista in 1959; it had ended aid to Cuba and washed its hands of him well before then. “Tet” was not evidence of the unpopularity of the Saigon government, but a resounding rejection of the northern invaders.
One should remember that Columbus and his people were not American Settlers, but part of the Spanish Conquistadors, as D’Souza notes:
The white men who settled America didn’t come as foreign invaders; they came as settlers. Unlike the Spanish, who ruled Mexico from afar, the English families who arrived in America left everything behind and staked their lives on the new world. In other words, they came as immigrants. We can say, of course, that immigration doesn’t confer any privileges, and just because you come here to settle doesn’t mean you have a right to the land that is here, but then that logic would also apply to the Indians.
Which causes one to ask JUST HOW GOOD is Zinn’s historical “narrative” from his Marxist “red colored glasses”? Reason.com asks the same question, “JUST HOW POOR IS ZINN’S HISTORY?“
They then answer it:
…After hearing of his death, I opened one of his books to a random page (Failure to Quit, p. 118) and was informed that there was “no evidence” that Muammar Qaddafi’s Libya was behind the 1986 bombing of La Belle Discotheque in Berlin. Whatever one thinks of the Reagan administration’s response, it is flat wrong, bordering on dishonest, to argue that the plot wasn’t masterminded in Tripoli. Nor is it correct to write that the American government, which funded the Afghan mujahadeen in the 1980s, “train[ed] Osama bin Laden,” a myth conclusively debunked by Washington Post correspondent Steve Coll in his Pulitzer Prize-winning book Ghost Wars.
Of Cuba, the reader of A People’s History is told that upon taking power, “Castro moved to set up a nationwide system of education, of housing, of land distribution to landless peasants.” Castro’s vast network of gulags and the spasm of “revolutionary justice” that sent thousands to prison or the executioners wall is left unmentioned. This is unsurprising, I suppose, when one considers that Zinn recently told an interviewer “you have to admire Cuba for being undaunted by this colossus of the North and holding fast to its ideals and to Socialism….Cuba is one of those places in the world where we can see hope for the future. With its very meager resources Cuba gives free health care and free education to everybody. Cuba supports culture, supports dance and music and theatre.”
There is also no mention of the Khmer Rouge or Pol Pot, though in a misleading digression into the so-called Mayaguez Incident, Zinn mentions that “a revolutionary regime had just taken power” in Cambodia and treated its American prisoners rather well. And it is untrue, as Zinn claims, that President Gerald Ford knew Cambodia had released its American captives in 1975 but still allowed a small Marine invasion simply to show American muscle after the Vietnam humiliation.
A People’s History is full of praise for supposedly forgotten truth-tellers like “Dalton Trumbo and Pete Seeger, and W.E.B. Du Bois and Paul Robeson,” all apologists for Stalinism. (Both Du Bois and Robeson were awarded the Stalin/Lenin Peace Prize by the Kremlin, and both enthusiastically accepted.) There is no accounting of communism’s crimes, though plenty of lamentations that, after the Second World War, “young and old were taught that anti-Communism was heroic.” Indeed, in the comic book version of A People’s History, Zinn writes that the Cold War “would last for over 40 years” but “to keep it going required political and social repression on both sides” (emphasis in original).
Despite conclusive evidence from Russian archives, Zinn suggests the atom spies Morton Sobel and Julius Rosenberg were railroaded with “weak” evidence and their subsequent trials were simply to show “what lay at the end of the line for those the government decided were traitors.” When Sobel confessed his espionage to the The New York Times earlier this year, Zinn told a reporter, “To me it didn’t matter whether they were guilty or not.”
This is a strange sentiment for someone whose job, one assumes, is to mine the historical record in search of historical truth. But Zinn wasn’t, as Schlesinger correctly said, a historian in any traditional sense. Zinn abjured footnotes (there are a number of quotes in A People’s History that I couldn’t verify), his books consist of clip jobs, interviews, and recycled material from A People’s History, and he was more likely to be found protesting on Boston Common than holding office hours at Boston University. But it is clear that those who have praised his work do so because they appreciate his conclusions, while ignoring his shoddy methodology.
This helps explain why few of his acolytes mention the effusive blurbs Zinn provided for David Ray Griffin’s two books of 9/11 conspiracy theories, Debunking 9/11 and The New Pearl Harbor, or why A People’s History uses the work of Holocaust denier David Irving to inflate the civilian death toll at Dresden….
They end this “eulogy” with this thought, “Call him what you will—activist, dissident, left-wing muckraker. Just don’t call him a historian.”
You see, many of Zinn’s critiques came from the left ~ combined from a few sources:
Much of the criticism of Zinn has come from dissenters on the left. Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr. once remarked that “I don’t take him very seriously. He’s a polemicist, not a historian.” Last year, the liberal historian Sean Wilentz referred to the “balefully influential works of Howard Zinn.” …. Socialist historian Michael Kazin judged Zinn’s most famous work “bad history, albeit gilded with virtuous intentions.”
“Virtuous Intentions” is the worst type of tyranny! Many evils on this planet have been done in the name of “good intentions.” CS Lewis says as much in this often used quote:
Of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience. They may be more likely to go to Heaven yet at the same time likelier to make a Hell of earth. Their very kindness stings with intolerable insult. To be ‘cured’ against one’s will and cured of states which we may not regard as disease is to be put on a level of those who have not yet reached the age of reason or those who never will; to be classed with infants, imbeciles, and domestic animals.
C.S. Lewis, God in the Dock (Grand Rapids, MI: W.B. Eerdmans, 2002), 292.
Even the socialist magazine DISSENT had to say that,
Pointing out what’s wrong with Zinn’s passionate tome is not difficult for anyone with a smattering of knowledge about the American past.
They continue to point out that this is merely a “polemic disguised as history.” EAG.ORG notes this DISSENT article and more:
Generally speaking, “A People’s History of the United States” is an attempt by Zinn to paint the American experience as one of economic and racial oppression of the masses by the privileged white capitalist class.
Those on the left certainly have no problem with that basic premise. But over time they’ve discovered flaws in his work that bother them to no end.
Georgetown University Professor Michael Kazin, co-editor of Dissent Magazine and one-time member of the radical Students for a Democratic Society, offered a blistering analysis of Zinn’s attempts to revise American history. From the Spring 2004 edition of Dissent:
“…Zinn’s big book is quite unworthy of such fame and influence. A People’s History is bad history, albeit gilded with virtuous intentions. Zinn reduces the past to a Manichean fable and makes no serious attempt to address the biggest question a leftist can ask about U.S. history: why have most Americans accepted the legitimacy of the capitalist republic in which they live?”
In other words, Zinn’s anti-capitalist version of history is not anti-capitalist enough.
Kazin offers other dismissals of Zinn’s work:
“Like most propagandists, he measures individuals according to his own rigid standard of how they should have thought and acted.”
“Given his approach to history, Zinn’s angry pages about the global reach of U.S. power are about as surprising as his support for Ralph Nader in 2000.”
“The latest edition of the book includes a few paragraphs about the attacks of September 11, and they demonstrate how poorly Zinn’s view of the past equips him to analyze the present.”
“Pointing out what’s wrong with Zinn’s passionate tome is not difficult for anyone with a smattering of knowledge about the American past. By why has this polemic disguised as history attracted so many enthusiastic readers?”
Probably because, not long ago, a lot of people who think like Kazin where telling everyone how great Zinn’s books were.
Kazin isn’t the only leftist to offer criticism of Zinn’s “propaganda.” The American Federation of Teachers similarly dismissed “A People’s History” in its Winter 2012-13 American Educator magazine.
“I am less concerned here with what Zinn says than his warrant for saying it, less interested in the words that meet the eye than with the book’s interpretive circuitry that doesn’t,” the author of the magazine article wrote.
The other day a reporter from NPR called me and asked me for my comments on the death of the lifelong Stalinist and propagandist Howard Zinn. I was a little reluctant because I knew that whatever I said, legions of unscrupulous myrmidons on the left would jump on it and say I had spit on Zinn’s grave. I also knew that while I was interviewed for ten minutes, out of what I said only a 20 second sound-bite would make it onto the air. I don’t begrudge NPR this selection. That’s what their obit was and would have to be, a collection of sound-bites.
Sure enough the bottom-feeders at FAIRpounced on my bite and accused me of spitting on Zinn’s grave. So here’s what I said that was cut from the interview. I’m not putting quotes around it because it’s from memory, but it’s pretty close to some of my remarks and captures the sense of others: No one should celebrate the death of another human being unless they are child-molesters or murderers.
Howard Zinn lived to a ripe old age (87), and bad human being that he was, I wouldn’t begrudge him an extra few years; he’s done about as much damage as he could.
Howard Zinn was a Stalinist in the years when the Marxist monster was slaughtering millions of innocent people and launching his own ‘final solution’ against the Jews. Put another way, Howard Zinn was helping Stalin to conduct those slaughters and to enslave all those who had the misfortune to live behind the Iron Curtain. Howard never had second thoughts about his commitment to leftwing totalitarians and never flagged in his political commitment to freedom’s enemies. In the years since Stalin’s death, Zinn supported every enemy of the United States in every war, and devoted his writing talents to every socialist tyrant including Mao Zedong who killed 70 million Chinese in peacetime because they got in the way of his progressive agendas.
When the Cold War was over and freedom had won — thanks to all the political forces and figures (e.g., Reagan and Thatcher) that Zinn opposed – Zinn continued his malignant course. He supported America’s enemies right to the end including the Islamic Nazis whose first agenda is to finish the job that Hitler started and then to impose a totalitarian theocracy on the infidel world.
Pointing out what’s wrong with Zinn’s passionate tome is not difficult for anyone with a smattering of knowledge about the American past. By why has this polemic disguised as history attracted so many enthusiastic readers?
All Zinn’s writing was directed to one end: to indict his own country as an evil state and soften his countrymen up for the kill. Like his partner in crime, Noam Chomsky, Zinn’s life’s work was a pernicious influence on the young and ignorant, with destructive consequences for people everywhere.
…one last note…
(First Video) Dennis Prager speaks with Howard Zinn, leading leftist, professor emeritus at Boston University and college campus icon discusses American Indian history. In this gracious interview excerpted herein, some real numbers emerge of what killed most of the Native American population:
From the 16th century through the early 20th century, no fewer than 93 confirmed epidemics and pandemics — all of which can be attributed to European contagions — decimated the American Indian population. Native American populations in the American Southwest plummeted by a staggering 90 percent or more.
(Editor’s note: A recent federal bill memorializing as a National Historic Trail what has come to be known as the Cherokee Indian Trail of Tears is based on false history, argues William R. Higginbotham. In this article, the Texas-based writer delves into the historic record and concludes that about 840 Indians not the 4,000 figure commonly accepted died in the 1837-38 trek west; that the government-financed march was conducted by the Indians themselves; and that the phrase “Trail of Tears” was a label that was added 70 years later under questionable circumstances.) The problem with some of our accounts of history is that they have been manipulated to fit conclusions not borne out by facts. Nothing could be more intellectually dishonest. This is about a vivid case in point.
After posting the following, GATEWAY PUNDIT asks: “Has anyone on the left ever read a single history book?”
Grand Rapids’ worker-run, no-tipping restaurant closes
The end has come for a popular Grand Rapids restaurant known as much for its creative vegan dishes as its progressive business model.
For much of its five-year existence, the eatery went by the moniker Bartertown Diner, until it was rebranded in September to The Garden Diner and Cafe.
The offbeat 30-seat eatery announced this month that its last day would be Wednesday, Nov. 30.
After a strong summer, the restaurant with about a dozen employees had struggled in recent months, said Thad Cummings. He took it over in March with Crystal Lecoy, who left two months later.
“I was an original investor in it,” Cummings said. “I wanted to push it to see if the model could be done.”…
Bartertown’s initial menu was described in a 2011 MLive review as an “imaginative” array of veggie, vegan and raw dishes that came with names like Dirty Dirty Beans & Greens and Raw Trash salad…
Employees would be expected to join the union, Industrial Workers of the World, he said.
In keeping with the worker empowerment theme, he commissioned a mural depicting Marxist revolutionary Che Guevara, Chinese communist leader Mao Zedong and other provocative leaders tackling restaurant duties.
In the end, the restaurant failed to achieve the employee business model it envisioned.
…Until recently, Henry Parada was director of the School of Social Work at Ryerson University, Toronto’s big downtown commuter school. His career was going well and he got major research grants. Now he has stepped aside after a handful of students calling themselves the Black Liberation Collective accused him of “a violent act of anti-Blackness, misogyny and misogynoir.” What was this act? It seems that he left a meeting where a black female speaker was giving a talk. No one knows why.
What happened next won’t surprise anyone who has been tracking the steady rise of authoritarian illiberalism on the left. The Black Liberation Collective at Ryerson (which has perhaps the most diverse student body in the nation) issued an escalating series of rants demanding immediate action to address his crimes, along with institutional racism in general. Students disrupted faculty meetings. The administration has issued the standard non-response: Basically it values diversity and inclusion, and is looking into the matter.
But really, it doesn’t matter what Prof. Parada did. He’s a white man, and therefore guilty.
Here’s a partial list of what’s been happening on campus lately. At the University of Toronto, psychology professor Jordan Peterson is under attack – not least by his own administration – for refusing to use invented pronouns for transgender people. (Last year, Kenneth Zucker, a renowned U of T psychiatry professor, was fired from his position at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health because his treatment of transgender kids was deemed not radical enough.)
At Queen’s, a good-natured off-campus costume party blew up into a crisis over racism. Queen’s principal Daniel Woolf denounced the event on his blog as “the unacceptable misappropriation and stereotyping of numerous cultures,” and solemnly vowed yet again to improve diversity and inclusion on campus. In other news from Queen’s, the head of a student theatre group was forced to grovel after announcing a plan to cast a white female as the lead in Othello. “There is absolutely no excuse for making a casting decision that was oppressive and caused people of colour to feel as though they were invalid,” she apologized. The production was cancelled.
At many campuses, students routinely try to shut down controversial speakers because they might make someone feel queasy. When Marie Henein, Jian Ghomeshi’s defence lawyer, was invited to speak at Bishop’s University early next year and have her lecture live-streamed to other schools, one women’s studies major at St. Francis Xavier said that Ms. Henein’s talk was a “disservice to students who are victims of sexual violence.” To his credit, Bishop’s principal Michael Goldbloom wrote a rebuttal – an unusual act of academic courage these days.
How did we get here? Here’s a very short answer.
University campuses have always leaned a little left. But in the 1990s, as the previous generation of academics was replaced by baby boomers, they began to lean dramatically left. The humanities and social sciences were colonized by an unholy alliance of poststructuralists and Marxists – people who believe that Western civilization is a corrupt patriarchy that must be dismantled.
According to studies of U.S. universities, 18 per cent of social-sciences professors say they’re Marxists. Only 7 to 9 per cent identify as conservative. Leftism in the academy is a positive feedback loop – and we’re now well past the point where the radicals have taken over. Those who don’t agree just shut up. “There’s no question there’s an atmosphere of terror,” one (older, white, male) professor told me.
According to classic Marxist ideology, people’s degree of oppression is determined by their ancestry and class. Today’s identity politics simply swaps in race and gender. But the anti-liberal thinking is the same. When your goal is revolution, dissent becomes intolerable, and you have a moral licence to shut down free speech. As the very liberal Jonathan Chait wrote in New York magazine: “Liberalism believes in political rights for everybody, regardless of the content of their ideas. Marxists believe political rights belong only to those arguing on behalf of the oppressed.”
Not so long ago, I thought this craziness would pass. Now I’m not so sure. When institutions cave in to radicals, their demands will only escalate….
A recent report indicates that Colin Kaepernick’s Muslim girlfriend Nessa Diab was behind his decision to not stand during the national anthem.
The report from sports gossip blog Terez Owens states, “As the entire world knows by now, San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick refused to stand for the National Anthem in Friday’s pre-season game against Green Bay because he was protesting ‘black oppression’ in the United States. We’re now hearing that it was actually his girlfriend Nessa’s idea for Colin to protest. Colin and his girlfriend, Nessa Diab, an MTV DJ, are still planning an Islamic-style wedding.”
SNOPES as well, while saying his full conversion is false… notes the following, “…but all of these reports stemmed back to an anonymous tip posted by the sports gossip site Terez Owens in July 2015″:
Now we’re hearing he’s transitioning to become a Muslim, according to people close to the player. We received this in our tipbox, Colin’s girlfriend, Hot 97 DJ Nessa, introduced him to the teachings of Islam, and he’s ready to embrace it fully. Our tipster tells us Kaep and Nessa are going to have a traditional Muslim wedding. Colin seems to be all over the place lately.
So let’s have Miss Lahren have her say and then see if we can’t find anything on DJ Nessa, shall we?
This is the basic line so far:
There are some facts about Colin Kaepernick that you should know. 1) He recently converted to Islam, 2) His girlfriend, DJ Nessa Diab, is a prominent activist in Black Lives Matter and is Muslim. She is also a fan of the Cuban dictator, Fidel Castro. (Uncle Sam’S Misguided Children)
We will build up to Nessa’s background, but first, she has posted a couple of things I would say alsoinfluenced Colin. For instance:
And in the recent press conference by Colin discussing his not standing up for the National Anthem, he was wearing this “pro-Cuba/pro-Castro” shirt on:
BABALÚ BLOG has some excellent commentary on the shirt:
We’re guessing his t-shirt statement wasn’t satiric. Instead we’re guessing that –owing much to modern American education–this black American athlete is (unwittingly) hailing the man who jailed and tortured the largest number of black political prisoners in the modern history of the Western hemisphere and who craved–and came within a hair of– nuking the nation that has made Kaepernick a multi-MULTI-millionaire.
“The Negro is indolent and lazy, and spends his money on frivolities, whereas the European is forward-looking, organized and intelligent.” (Che Guevara)
…However, there was one startling display of ignorance by Kaepernick that makes me think he’s not the best person to listen to on the topic of racial injustice. I’m referring to his attire at the press conference: a Malcolm X hat, and though it’s difficult to make out, his T-shirt is of photos commemorating Malcolm X meeting Fidel Castro.
One can revisit the great civil rights debate over using violence as a means to an end; suffice to say, America’s better off that Martin Luther King, Jr. and his commitment to nonviolence, not Malcolm X and his “by any means necessary” approach, won the day. And this divide is only highlighted by Castro’s harboring of a bunch of American cop killers, such as Assata Shakur and Eldridge Cleaver, who claim their unconscionable and murderous actions were done in the name of “racial justice”.
The biggest problem here is that Kaepernick is seemingly unaware of Castro’s legacy. Aside from Castro dragooning and executing Christians and gays, Castro’s record on racial justice is decidedly not “woke”, as the Internet likes to say. While Cuba’s legacy of racism predates Castro, it’s safe to say overt racism against individuals of African ancestry there remains far more pronounced than it is in the United States. In fact, racism is kind of an unstated official policy: “State-posts, government jobs, or positions in the tourism industry are often allocated on the basis of skin color. Take a look at the top office holders in Cuba. See any black faces there? No,” Mediaite’s AJ Delgado wrote.
Earlier this year, as the White House was normalizing relations with Cuba, the New York Timesdeclared “Cuba Says It Has Solved Racism. Obama Isn’t So Sure.” Obama even addressed the topic of Cuban racism explicitly during his historic visit. But there’s no evidence Obama used his leverage to extract any meaningful reforms to address the issue.
The fact remains that the Cuban government doesn’t deal with racism, because to talk openly about it would be to admit that Cuba’s not the socialist paradise it’s cracked up to be. But don’t take my word for it—Cuban editor Roberto Zurbano wrote an illuminating article about Cuban racism that was translated and published in the New York Times three years ago:
Racism in Cuba has been concealed and reinforced in part because it isn’t talked about. The government hasn’t allowed racial prejudice to be debated or confronted politically or culturally, often pretending instead as though it didn’t exist. Before 1990, black Cubans suffered a paralysis of economic mobility while, paradoxically, the government decreed the end of racism in speeches and publications. To question the extent of racial progress was tantamount to a counterrevolutionary act. This made it almost impossible to point out the obvious: racism is alive and well.
As a result of a critical article about Cuban racism being published in an American newspaper, Zurbano lost his job at the state-sponsored Casa de las Americas cultural center. Colin Kaepernick, on the other hand, appears to be in no danger of losing his decadent, capitalist, multimillion-dollar paycheck for speaking out against his government.
….Mr. Kaepernick, you have no clue what Oppression feels like. I know exactly what it feels like. I can tell you as a communist survivor who almost saw his family sent to prison because of bringing a drawing of the birth of Christ and telling my 1st grade kids about Jesus.
I remember clearly watching my father being beaten by Castro henchmen right in front of my grandma’s house… all because we were coming to America.
I remember having only a glass of sugar with water because no one would hire my father or mother for fear they would receive the same discrimination.
I understand you embrace communist/socialist ideas, yet I do not see you giving away all of your millions of dollars to charity. And if you hate it here so much, why aren’t you fleeing to North Korea or Cuba?
You are a new Moslem convert who supports an ideology that has kept women oppressed for thousands of years, without even the right to vote or participate in any leadership role without permission of their father or husband.
You talk about ‘oppression’ from the white men, yet your own white parents have given you a college education and life of “white privilege.”
History shows that blacks sold blacks into slavery. Today, the ‘human trade’ as they call it now is predominantly run by Moslem Arabs: the diamond slavery is a huge example.
It shows that no matter how many millions you have, you can still be a slave in your own plantation.
Nessa has been heavily influenced by contact with the Middle-East dues to her fathers job, as San Jose’s paper THE MERCURY NEWS notes:
She was born in Southern California, but frequently moved between the U.S. and Middle East growing up, thanks to her father’s job.
Nessa’s full name is Nessa Diab and she is originally from Southern California. As a child she moved back and forth from California to the Middle East because of her father’s job, and it was during this time that she first began writing songs. “Here is the thing, I was a young girl fearing for my life-I wore gas masks to school,” Nessa said of being present during the Gulf War. “I heard war sirens constantly and I knew at this point I had to break out of this lifestyle.”
I have spent hours looking for her father and why he would be in-n-out of the Middle-East. I contacted a couple fellow bloggers to help in the endeavor. But the connection with radical Islam and the Black Lives Matter movement and their anti-Semitism is unmistakable, CONSERVATIVE TREE-HOUSE:
In the social justice arena, there is no daylight between the various BLM activism groups, and activist Islam. They are interwoven amid every controversial eruption over the past six years. We have tried to draw attention to it numerous times, but many don’t fully grasp the scope of the relationship between radical Islam and Black Lives Matter. It’s a symbiosis, a complete synergy in activism and intent.
Keep in mind some key questions remain about Colin and his girlfriend. Was her father connected to radical Islam in some way (say, the Muslim Brotherhood)? What was his job? Maybe she is an el–Sisifan? Does she have connections to the Nation of Islam (NOI) or the Nation of Gods and Earths (5%’ers)?
Inside the BookTV Bus, Humberto Fontova was interviewed about his book Fidel: Hollywood’s Favorite Tyrant, published by Regnery Publishing. He spoke about the media’s affixation with the Cuban dictator. Mr. Fontova also discussed political prisoners and a decline in health care.
…Marxists have ruled Cuba for more than a half-century now. Fidel Castro, Argentine guerrilla Che Guevara, and their 26th of July Movement forced Fulgencio Batista from power in 1959 and replaced his standard-issue authoritarian regime with a Communist one. The revolutionaries promised liberal democracy, but Castro secured absolute power and flattened the country with a Marxist-Leninist battering ram. The objectives were total equality and the abolition of money; the methods were total surveillance and political prisons. The state slogan, then and now, is “socialism or death.”
Cuba was one of the world’s richest countries before Castro destroyed it—and the wealth wasn’t just in the hands of a tiny elite. “Contrary to the myth spread by the revolution,” wrote Alfred Cuzan, a professor of political science at the University of West Florida, “Cuba’s wealth before 1959 was not the purview of a privileged few. . . . Cuban society was as much of a middle-class society as Argentina and Chile.” In 1958, Cuba had a higher per-capita income than much of Europe. “More Americans lived in Cuba prior to Castro than Cubans lived in the United States,” Cuban exile Humberto Fontova, author of a series of books about Castro and Guevara, tells me. “This was at a time when Cubans were perfectly free to leave the country with all their property. In the 1940s and 1950s, my parents could get a visa for the United States just by asking. They visited the United States and voluntarily returned to Cuba. More Cubans vacationed in the U.S. in 1955 than Americans vacationed in Cuba. Americans considered Cuba a tourist playground, but even more Cubans considered the U.S. a tourist playground.” Havana was home to a lot of that prosperity, as is evident in the extraordinary classical European architecture that still fills the city. Poor nations do not—cannot—build such grand or elegant cities.
But rather than raise the poor up, Castro and Guevara shoved the rich and the middle class down. The result was collapse. “Between 1960 and 1976,” Cuzan says, “Cuba’s per capita GNP in constant dollars declined at an average annual rate of almost half a percent. The country thus has the tragic distinction of being the only one in Latin America to have experienced a drop in living standards over the period.”
Communism destroyed Cuba’s prosperity, but the country experienced unprecedented pain and deprivation when Moscow cut off its subsidies after the fall of the Soviet Union. Journalist and longtime Cuba resident Mark Frank writes vividly about this period in his book Cuban Revelations. “The lights were off more than they were on, and so too was the water. . . . Food was scarce and other consumer goods almost nonexistent. . . . Doctors set broken bones without anesthesia. . . . Worm dung was the only fertilizer.” He quotes a nurse who tells him that Cubans “used to make hamburgers out of grapefruit rinds and banana peels; we cleaned with lime and bitter orange and used the black powder in batteries for hair dye and makeup.” “It was a haunting time,” Frank wrote, “that still sends shivers down Cubans’ collective spines.”…
Some equate Cuba to Iraq or Afghanistan. The author of the article, after being told this by a fellow travelor responded to this in the article:
I visited Iraq seven times during the war and didn’t have the heart to tell her that Baghdad, while ugly and dangerous, is vastly freer and more prosperous these days than Havana. Anyway, Iraq is precisely the kind of country with which Castro wants you to compare Cuba. It’s the wrong comparison. So are impoverished Third World countries like Guatemala and Haiti. Cuba isn’t a developing country; it’s a once-developed country destroyed by its own government. Havana was a magnificent Western city once. It should be compared not with Baghdad, Kabul, Guatemala City, or Port-au-Prince but with formerly Communist Budapest, Prague, or Berlin. Havana’s history mirrors theirs, after all.
…As for the free health care, patients have to bring their own medicine, their own bedsheets, and even their own iodine to the hospital. Most of these items are available only on the illegal black market, moreover, and must be paid for in hard currency—and sometimes they’re not available at all. Cuba has sent so many doctors abroad—especially to Venezuela, in exchange for oil—that the island is now facing a personnel shortage. “I don’t want to say there are no doctors left,” says an American man who married a Cuban woman and has been back dozens of times, “but the island is now almost empty. I saw a banner once, hanging from somebody’s balcony, that said, DO I NEED TO GO TO VENEZUELA FOR MY HEADACHE?”
Housing is free, too, but so what? Americans can get houses in abandoned parts of Detroit for only $500—which makes them practically free—but no one wants to live in a crumbling house in a gone-to-the-weeds neighborhood. I saw adequate housing in the Cuban countryside, but almost everyone in Havana lives in a Detroit-style wreck, with caved-in roofs, peeling paint, and doors hanging on their hinges at odd angles.
Education is free, and the country is effectively 100 percent literate, thanks to Castro’s campaign to teach rural people to read shortly after he took power. But the regime has yet to make a persuasive argument that a totalitarian police state was required to get the literacy rate from 80 percent to 100 percent. After all, almost every other country in the Western Hemisphere managed the same feat at the same time, without the brutal repression.
Cuba is short of everything but air and sunshine. In her book, Sánchez describes an astonishing appearance by Raúl Castro on television, during which he boasted that the economy was doing so well now that everyone could drink milk. “To me,” Sánchez wrote, “someone who grew up on a gulp of orange-peel tea, the news seemed incredible.” She never thought she’d see the day. “I believed we would put a man on the moon, take first place among all nations in the upcoming Olympics, or discover a vaccine for AIDS before we would put the forgotten morning café con leche, coffee with milk, within reach of every person on this island.” And yet Raúl’s promise of milk for all was deleted from the transcription of the speech in Granma, the Communist Party newspaper. He went too far: there was not enough milk to ensure that everyone got some.
Even things as simple as cooking oil and soap are black-market goods. Individuals who, by some illegal means or another, manage to acquire such desirables will stand on street corners and whisper “cooking oil” or “sugar” to passersby, and then sell the product on the sly out of their living room. If they’re caught, both sellers and buyers will be arrested, of course, but the authorities can’t put the entire country in jail. “Everyone cheats,” says Eire. “One must in order to survive. The verb Ωto steal≈ has almost vanished from usage. Breaking the rules is necessary. Resolví mi problema, which means ‘I solved my problem,’ is the Cuban way of referring to stealing or cheating or selling on the black market.”
Cuba has two economies now: the national Communist economy for the majority; and a quasi-capitalist one for foreigners and the elite…
…The Floridita bar in downtown Havana was one of Ernest Hemingway’s hangouts when he lived there (from 1940 until 1960, the year after Castro came to power). He was in the Floridita all the time—and, in a way, he still is. There’s a statue of him sitting on his favorite bar stool, grinning at today’s patrons. The décor is exactly the same, but there’s a big difference: everyone in the bar these days is a tourist. Cubans aren’t strictly banned any more, but a single bottle of beer costs a week’s salary. No one would blow his dismal paycheck on that.
If he were still around, Hemingway would be stunned to see what has happened to his old haunt. Cubans certainly aren’t happy about it, but the tourists are another story—especially the world’s remaining Marxoid fellow travelers, who show up in Havana by the planeload. Such people are clearly unteachable. I got into an argument with one at the Floridita when I pointed out that none of the patrons were Cuban. “There are places in the United States that some can’t afford,” she retorted. Sure, but come on. Not even the poorest Americans have to pay a week’s wage for a beer…
…An advertisement in my hotel claimed that the Sierra Maestra restaurant on the top floor is “probably” the best in Havana. I had saved the Sierra Maestra for my last night and rode the elevator up to the 25th floor. I had my first and only steak on the island and washed it down with Chilean red wine. The tiny bill set me back no more than having a pizza delivered at home would, but the total nevertheless exceeded an entire month’s local salary. Not surprisingly, I ate alone. Every other table was empty. The staff waited on me as if I were the president of some faraway minor republic.
I stared at the city below out the window as I sipped my red wine. Havana looked like a glittering metropolis in the dark. Night washed away the rot and the grime and revealed nothing but city lights. It occurred to me that Havana will look mostly the same—at night, anyway—after it is liberated from the tyrannical imbeciles who govern it now. I tried to pretend that I was looking out on a Cuba that was already free and that the tables around me were occupied—by local people, not foreigners—but the fantasy faded fast. I was all alone at the top of Cuba’s Elysium and yearning for home—where capitalism’s inequalities are not so jagged and stark.