Bernie Sanders, potentially the next leader of the free world, recently applauded long-time Cuban despot Fidel Castro for his literacy program.
How ridiculous is that?
Can you imagine Winston Churchill praising Hitler for building fine highways?
Or, Franklin Roosevelt showering plaudits upon Mussolini for getting the trains to run on time?
Of course, you can’t.
Sanders, who was a member of the Young People’s Socialist League in the 1960s, honeymooned in the Soviet Union, and defended Chile president Salvador Allende’s repressive Marxist regime in the 1960s, has an incredible blind spot when it comes to leftist authoritarian governments that have committed gross human rights violations.
Leftists, like Sanders, have admired Castro, even though he abolished human rights, civil liberties, free elections, political parties, independent unions, religious and cultural organizations. Castro also instituted political prisons and forced labor.
The 1972 Democratic presidential nominee, Sen. George McGovern, found Castro "in private conversation at least, soft spoken, shy, sensitive."
Former CBS News anchor Dan Rather called him "Cuba’s own Elvis."
Filmmaker Oliver Stone described Castro as, "very selfless and moral."
And the noted political activist and singer Harry Belafonte said, "If you believe in freedom, if you believe in justice, if you believe in democracy, you have no choice but to support Fidel Castro."
Democratic Congressman Bobby Rush of Chicago, co-founder of the Illinois Black Panther Party in 1968, had this to say after meeting Castro in 2009, "I think what really surprised me, but also endeared me to [Castro] was his keen sense of humor, his sense of history, his human qualities."
But, here are the facts about Castro’s Communist regime:
Since 1959, over 500,000 people have spent time in a Cuban gulag. The authoritative Black "Book of Communism: Crimes, Terror, Repression" — written by a team of French intellectuals — reports that there have been 15,000-20,000 prisoners of conscience; 12,000-15,000 political prisoners; and 15,000-17,000 prisoners shot. Over 2 million Cubans, out of a population of 11 million, "voted with oars" settling in other countries.
In 1994 alone, over 7,000 attempting to escape died at sea. When confronted with these facts, Castro gave this preposterous reply, "From our point of view, we have no human-rights problem — there have been no 'disappeareds' here, there have been no tortures here, there have been no murderers here . . . torture has never been committed, a crime has never been committed."
Sanders has also praised the Chinese Communists for allegedly taking millions out of poverty. He appears, however, to have overlooked the millions who perished under the regime: From 1920 to 1976 Mao murdered more people than Hitler and Stalin combined — 70 million Chinese.
And in 2011, Sanders endorsed an editorial in New Hampshire’s Valley News that saluted Hugo Chavez’s Venezuela as a place where the "American dream is more apt to be realized."
That’s the Chavez who called the United States "the most evil regime that has ever existed."
Chavez, described by Miami Herald columnist Andres Oppenheimer as a Narcissist-Leninist, claimed his heroes were Fidel Castro, Che Guevara, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran, Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe, and Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah.
During his tenure, national literacy had gone up only 1 percent and crime was rampant. Homicide rates had increased 90 percent between 1998 and 2005 and 91 percent of murders were never solved. At 57 murders per 100,000 people, Venezuela’s homicide rate was the world’s highest. Not included in these statistics are the thousands who are killed annually "resisting authority."
The Index of Economic Freedom study of 157 countries placed Venezuela in 148th place. Transparency International rated Venezuela as one of the world’s most corrupt nations.
Why do Bernie Sanders and other influential leftists rationalize or defend the likes of Castro, Mao and Chavez?
The noted liberal, Dr. Mark Lilla of Columbia University, explained it this way:
"Distinguished intellectuals, gifted poets, and influential journalists [have] summoned their talents to convince all who would listen that modern tyrants were liberators and that their unconscionable crimes were noble, when seen in the proper perspective."
In other words, Sanders and his confreres are what Lenin called "useful idiots" — stooges dispensing totalitarian propaganda.
George J. Marlin, a former executive director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, is the author of "The American Catholic Voter: Two Hundred Years of Political Impact," and "Christian Persecutions in the Middle East: A 21st Century Tragedy." He is chairman of Aid to the Church in Need-USA. Mr. Marlin also writes for TheCatholicThing.org and the Long Island Business News. To read more George J. Marlin — Click Here Now.
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