From one of my favorite blogs (with the best name), Diogenes’ Middle Finger, comes this gem that explains what to all of us is already too well known…
The phenomenon of intelligent people saying stupid things about tyrants is a constant of 20th century history and continues unabated into the 21st.
Searching for a new utopia, many pinned their hopes on revolutionary Cuba, where a bearded mega-bore named Fidel Castro was in the process of transforming a corrupt satellite of America into a corrupt satellite of the USSR, even poorer and less free than before. Like Papa Joe, Fidel knew how to flatter and soon he had the likes of Picasso, Norman Mailer and Susan Sontag (“the Cuban revolution is astonishingly free of repression”) eating out of his palm. My favorite Castro quote comes from Abbie Hoffman, a justly forgotten 60s radical bed-wetter who compared Castro to… well, read for yourself:
“Fidel sits on the side of a tank rumbling into Havana on New Year’s Day… girls throw flowers at the tank and rush to tug playfully at this black beard. He laughs joyously and pinches a few rumps. .. He is like a mighty penis coming to life, and when he is tall and straight, the crowd immediately is transformed.”
Then there was Castro’s pal, Wee Ernie Guevara, a totalitarian loon who praised Mao, invaded the Congo and died in Bolivia after attempting to inspire revolution among people he knew nothing about. Sartre declared him “the most complete human being of our age.”
And so on, and so on. These days, it’s not quite as bad though I hear Hitler has his fans in the Middle East and Hollywood morons, inspired by 60s nostalgia, still show up in Cuba from time to time. But it’s hard to find the pure strain of tyrant admiration, though for a while I was fascinated by a blog entitled Reflections on the Ruhnama, written by “Steve from Wisconsin” who apparently took at face value all the gibberish the deceased Turkmen tyrant Saparmurat Niyazov had scrawled with a colored crayon in his notorious book.
Maybe it has something to do with the loss of religious faith. You know, these intellectuals no longer believe in paradise, so they project their yearning for redemption onto some exotic place, then climb through the wardrobe of their imaginations and emerge in magical lands governed by wise talking lions. Yes, I like that, though surely vanity also comes into it. It pleases certain intellectuals to adopt counter-intuitive positions, believing it gives them “depth” and “sophistication.” And thus clever people are often the easiest to fool.
And what about today…..Just look around.