Two weeks ago, I argued that you could understand our "mainstream" journalists if you assumed that their objective was to comfort our comfortable leftists, that they were trying, though not necessarily consciously, to write articles that well-off leftists would find pleasant to read.
So, for example, they avoid direct criticisms of leftist leaders, and any subjects that comfortable leftists might find uncomfortable, for instance any of the bad effects leftist policies might have on the poor, or even the working class.
Today, Seattle Times columnist Jerry Large gives us another example of that tendency, in his column on Harry Belafonte.
What Large says is not wrong; for instance, as far as I know, this is broadly correct:
His career soared in the 1950s and 1960s at the same time the modern civil-rights movement was pressing the country to truly embrace equality, and he used his stardom to support the movement. He was a close friend and confidante of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Belafonte got fellow entertainers involved -- Charlton Heston, Marlon Brando, Tony Bennett and many more. He put his life at risk on the front lines in the South and wove his social and political conscience into his career.
Though I have my doubts about how close he actually was to King, and how much risk he took with his own life.
But it is incomplete, as you can tell even from reading this generally favorable Wikipedia biography.
Belafonte has been a longtime critic of U.S. foreign policy. He began making controversial political statements on this subject in the early 1980s. He has at various times made statements opposing the U.S. embargo on Cuba; praising Soviet peace initiatives; attacking the U.S. invasion of Grenada; praising the Abraham Lincoln Brigade; honoring Ethel and Julius Rosenberg and praising Fidel Castro. Belafonte is additionally known for his visit to Cuba which helped ensure hip-hop's place in Cuban society. According to Geoffrey Baker's article "Hip hop, Revolucion! Nationalizing Rap in Cuba", in 1999 Belafonte met with representatives of the rap community immediately before meeting with Fidel Castro. This meeting resulted in Castro's personal approval of, and hence the government's involvement in, the incorporation of rap into his country's culture. In a 2003 interview Belafonte reflected upon this meeting's influence:Belafonte speaking at the 1963 Civil Rights March on Washington, D.C
"When I went back to Havana a couple years later, the people in the hip-hop community came to see me and we hung out for a bit. They thanked me profusely and I said, 'Why?' and they said, 'Because your little conversation with Fidel and the Minister of Culture on hip-hop led to there being a special division within the ministry and we've got our own studio'."
In short, Belafonte has been, for decades, a Communist sympathizer, a sympathizer of a movement that is responsible for approximately 100 million deaths.
Perhaps Belafonte's support for that movement was all in the past? No.
The American singer-songwriter, once considered the "Kind of Calypso," this week ignited outrage - and plenty of eye rolls - after speaking with MSNBC's Al Sharpton and saying President Obama should rule like a third-world dictator and toss his GOP opponents behind bars.
"That there should be this lingering infestation of really corrupt people who sit trying to dismantle the wishes of the people, the mandate that has been given to Barack Obama, and I don't know what more they want," he said. "The only thing left for Barack Obama to do is to work like a third world dictator and just put all these guys in jail."
Belafonte's friend, Fidel Castro, would certainly approve of that plan. I would like to think that Jerry Large would not, though I don't know for sure.
But I do know this: The column would have been far more interesting if Large had asked Belafonte about that statement, about his history of sympathizing with Communists, or even about Belafonte's 2011 attack on President Obama.
But asking such questions would have produced a column that would have distressed this area's comfortable leftists, and our local monopoly newspaper has gotten quite good at protecting them from unpleasant facts, in recent years.
Cross posted at Jim Miller on Politics.Posted by Jim Miller at September 23, 2013 04:03 PM | Email This