The quickest way for a commie asshole to gain weepy fans is to die. This is something I’m willing to accept, as long as it happens regularly.
But it’s no surprise that when someone truly awful dies, the cool break out in reverence. Which is what happened when Hugo Chávez croaked. On that day in March 2013, we saw a parade of misty-eyed celebrities and solemn left-wing hacks paying tribute to a dead guy. Out of the woodwork came a parade of Hugoslavians, tyrant-lovers who could overlook the heathen’s badness for the sake of coolness. See, someone can be truly evil. But if that person runs a country and you know that person well, it makes you kinda cool. It’s better to know Darth Vader than Doris Day. It’s pretty cool to brag that you just shared a burrito with a murderous despot, as opposed to a biscuit with Billy Graham.
And so when Chávez bit the dust, who did we see? Sean Penn. Oliver Stone. Jimmy Carter. Joe Kennedy. All decorating the corpse with wreaths of blithering blather. And no one blathers blitheringly like that quartet. That’s the worst set of four since the last Who reunion.
As USA Today, a paper one finds sadly staring at you from your hotel room doormat, reports, an emotionally upset Sean Penn mourned the death of the fifty-eight-year-old socialist creep. Sean wrote in a statement sent to the Hollywood Reporter: “Today the people of the United States lost a friend it never knew it had. And poor people around the world lost a champion.” He added: “I lost a friend I was blessed to have.” Penn needs to tell you that he knew the guy. A world leader. That’s cool. I guess playing Jeff Spicoli and marrying Madonna wasn’t enough (one made your career, the other ruined your urinary tract). Yeah, this is the same chap who told Piers Morgan that Ted Cruz should be institutionalized. Talk about the pot calling the kettle batshit crazy. If Penn got any nuttier, he’d be a Snickers bar.
Of course it would be uncool to point out to Penn that Chávez was no champion of the poor. Under his rule people became far poorer in Venezuela. And in the midst of an oil boom, Chávez engineered a murder boom. The murder rate in his country tripled during Chávez’s tyrannical tenure, hitting a high of 67 per 100,000 residents in 2011, compared with a murder rate of less than 5 per 100,000 in the United States (and that includes Baltimore). And about 10 or 20 less than the last Penn movie.
Penn was joined, per usual, by director Oliver Stone, who said, solemnly, somewhere: ‘‘I mourn a great hero to the majority of his people and those who struggle throughout the world for a place.” He added: “Hated by the entrenched classes, Hugo Chávez will live forever in history.
“My friend, rest finally in a peace long earned.” This is from an adult, mind you.
And no list of apologists for evil is complete without Michael Moore. This nugget comes from the Michigan Live website, which reports Moore praising Chávez in a feeble collection of Twitter messages, on the night the Venezuelan viper expired.
Hugo Chávez declared the oil belonged 2 the ppl. He used the oil $ 2 eliminate 75% of extreme poverty, provide free health & education 4 all.That made him dangerous. US approved of a coup to overthrow him even though he was a democratically- elected president…You won’t hear much nice about him in the US media in the next few days. So, I thought I’d say a couple things to provide some balance.
Save the balance, Mike. You need all you can get just walking across the street.
When you desire to be the coolest person in the room, you also become a willing dupe. The great writer Michael Moynihan calls it the “free breakfast” theory of tyrant love. All an evil scumbag has to do is offer something seemingly free, and somehow celebrities forgive all the other awful things they did. You raped my sister but bought the city a pig? It’s a push.
For Chávez to obscure his attack on the poor, he had to brand himself as the champion of the poor. Which is why he scored an amazing amount of free press, delivering free heating oil to America’s poor. “Even if it was political opportunism, as conservative critics insisted, it got home-heating fuel to hundreds of thousands of yanquis during the past four winters, when the price was often skyrocketing,” Time magazine’s Tim Padgett reports. (By the way, how is “yanquis” not racist? I’m enraged!) Too bad Chávez couldn’t lend a hand to his own people—but they were far less important than the accolades to be gotten from the American media.
Meanwhile, the Huffington Post—the beehive for boneheads— writes: “Hugo Chávez was a man of many talents: he played ball, sang songs, pulled out pistols, and got down and groovy—and that is precisely how we’ll remember the Venezuelan leader.”
Precisely? That he got down and groovy? What is this, Soul Train for psychos? Operating in the lurid lexicon of cool, one must forgive tyranny because the guy knew how to party! It makes you wonder how the Huffpo would have covered Hitler’s death if he had only mastered the bongos. If only Stalin did karaoke! If only Pol Pot was a Doors fan. Didn’t Idi Amin love to slam dance?
There were others involved in this freakshow tribute, including the embarrassingly self-absorbed British politician George Galloway, who called Chávez a “modern-day Spartacus.” Galloway, mind you, never met an anti-Western tyrant he wouldn’t swap spit with. To him, radical Islam is a justifiable response to our own evil. Make a deal with the devil, and maybe the devil will kill you last.
But the real champion in this Hugoslavian hug? A nobody at The Nation, a guy who gives GGs a bad name. His name is Greg Grandin, and this is his take:
The biggest problem Venezuela faced during his rule was not that Chávez was authoritarian but that he wasn’t authoritarian enough.
Tell that to those who didn’t survive Chávez’s horrible rule. They won’t hear you, because they’re dead. Hmmm…if only Stalin was more efficient, the world would be a better place. (The population would definitely be more manageable, that’s for sure.) Great job GG; you win the Walter Duranty award for advocacy journalism. It looks just like an Oscar. Only the figure’s head is up his ass.
While it’s unseemly to rag on a dead guy, there’s something equally off-putting about lionizing a bad man. At its heart is a petty, shallow jab at America, the Goliath. And why? After all, Americans aren’t bad people. We’re just good people who do good things really well. And we do screw up now and again, but all in all, we get things right. We’re kinda awesome, history attests.
But American goodness is a boring, uncool concept. Instead, among the cool kids in this vacuous universal high school, the default cliché that infects all thinking comes down to “us evil, them good.” Paying tribute to Hugo Chávez translates into, “You Americans are too big and bad to understand the plight of the common man.” The cool don’t consider that this “common man” was hoarding billions of dollars, allowing criminality across the country, and fostering a murder rate that outstrips countries involved in actual wars. Or that America was built by common men. Successful common men whose only fault was that they weren’t non-Caucasian leftists.
When Oliver Stone and Sean Penn pay homage to a man who considers the United States the cause of all the troubles in the world, their conclusion is simple: We agree with the dead man—America sucks. This cool perspective might help a drug-addled actor score a dopey model at the bar. But it makes everyone else familiar with history throw up.
So the next time you run into a cool person who finds it cool to deify a dead creep, ask ’em this: Should your cool assumptions about the flaws of America excuse your allegiance to a thuggish critic of our country?
Venezuela might have the world’s largest oil deposits, yet most of the country’s citizens are mired in poverty. Chávez died a billionaire. How can you laud this fraud—a one percenter if there ever was one? How can you say he was good for the poor? If he’s good for the poor, so are hepatitis A, B, and C. This is a country so screwed up, they put price controls on toilet paper. This poses quite a risk, since Chávez fans like Penn and Moore are so full of shit. They’re Porta Potties on legs.
Another question to ask: How do you think this cool pose is viewed by folks who escaped the real, authentic horror of dictatorships from hellholes in Africa or the entirety of Cuba?
How do you explain the praise heaped upon a man like Chávez, who controlled the media, banned free expression, and imprisoned those who spoke out against him? Do you think Penn, who loved to visit the despot, thought it was simply too rude to say something when he was there? As an invited VIP guest, he didn’t want to upset a famous friend? Do you think he knew those trips were prepared for him? These primitive attempts at Potemkin villages, where potholes and rocks were painted over to create a joyful facade over the country’s decrepitude? Do you think Penn knows what a Potemkin village is? He probably thinks it’s a retirement community in Florida (where Madonna is living).
Why do we have champions of tolerance asking that we tolerate those who traffic in intolerance? Wouldn’t it make more sense to salute those who challenge a man who attempts to monopolize the media, while nationalizing every industry he can get his grimy paws on? Isn’t that speaking truth to power? If Bush had done what Chávez had done, how quickly would these cool creeps be handcuffing themselves to the White House fence, spray painting their torsos with theater blood, the cocaine still searing the lining of their sinuses?
In truth, these apologists for evil are far from cool. They are losers, shams, frauds. Worst of all, they are predictable. The obvious hole in their respective souls drives them to embrace the world’s worst ghouls. If only to mask an unhappy reality: that they’re all just boring sacks of aging bones and irrelevant beliefs. As we all are. But at least most of us don’t fall in love with dictators.
At Hugo’s funeral, you saw Iran’s hirsute hothead Mahmoud Ahmadinejad shoulder to shoulder with our own Secretary of Stupid Sean Penn. Jesse Jackson also paid a visit, which seems odd, priority-wise, given the state of his family. But they all hit the same red carpet (fitting that it is red—as a tribute to the country’s murder rate). Maybe this will turn out to be an adult moment for America, when we stop and wonder if following the cool is the right thing to do. This naive embracing of anti-American bullies seems purely adolescent—a desire to thumb your nose at evil Daddy.
But while being callously cool means mourning the death of thugs and fraternizing with our country’s enemies, it also requires celebrating the death of someone great. Just weeks after Chávez, Margaret Thatcher died. Before the news sank in, the ghouls were already in the streets celebrating, in force. Impromptu street parties popped up in Glasgow and London, with drunken yobs stumbling through the streets, holding all kinds of sinister signs, rejoicing in the death of Maggie as they shat their pants. On Twitter, as always, the ghoulishness is amplified, because it’s anonymous and easy. When a British celebrity (a Spice Girl whose name escapes me, and probably her) expressed sorrow over Lady Thatcher’s demise, she was met with vile slurs (all of which rhymed with the word “bunt”). The second-most trending topic on Twitter was “no state funeral.” Amazing. From the very people who want the state to pay for everything else. If Churchill were alive, he’d slap somebody. Probably everybody.
But because the left thinks the right is evil, and they believe the prime minister is a monster, their vileness is sanctioned. Their ghoulishness is coolishness. Their celebration mimicked those in Libya after Gaddafi croaked. But the Bedouins had better hygiene.
When I looked at all the footage of the partiers in the streets, I could not help but notice that they were young. They had zits. And iPhones. These dolts were way too young to remember Thatcher, who was less a “warmonger” than the Austin Powers lookalike who came after her. All this vitriol was emanating from students—all stuck in that Hacky Sack socialist mind-set. The Daily Mail reported on the National Union of Students conference in Sheffield, where some delegates actually cheered when told of Thatcher’s death. I’m sure they were cheered, in turn, for their cheering. Then they went back to reading the Guardian in their underpants, listening to Moroccan Dubstep, and waiting for “Mum” to serve beans on toast.
So why such hate, from people who only knew Thatcher by grainy pictures of her in the paper? Well, if you swim in the sewer, you’re going to come out stinky.
And that’s your typical product of academia these days, soaking in a scholastic cesspool where the coolest thing you can do is crap all over the West and its glorious achievements. An anti-West relativism—that banal evil that infects every corner of your average campus—makes it totally acceptable to view Thatcher as just another Hitler. And to believe the West is no better than its enemies. For a cool student, hating America makes them cooler. It’s like saying you’re with the band. A shitty band. Think Maroon 5 with a better singer.
This piece is excerpted from Greg Gutfeld's latest book, Not Cool: The Hipster Elite and Their War on You, out on March 18 from Crown Forum, a division of Random House. (Copyright 2014 by Greg Gutfeld.)