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Bernie Sanders, Communist Sympathizer

Democratic frontrunner repeats qualified praise for Castro's Cuba
Screen Shot 2020-02-24 at 8.23.44 AM

He actually is. Said so on 60 Minutes last night. From the transcript:

Back in the 1980s, Sanders had some positive things to say about the former Soviet Union and the Sandinistas in Nicaragua.

Here he is explaining why the Cuban people didn’t rise up and help the U.S. overthrow Cuban leader Fidel Castro: “…he educated their kids, gave them health care, totally transformed the society, you know?”

Bernie Sanders: We’re very opposed to the authoritarian nature of Cuba but you know, it’s unfair to simply say everything is bad. You know? When Fidel Castro came into office, you know what he did? He had a massive literacy program. Is that a bad thing? Even though Fidel Castro did it?

Anderson Cooper: A lot of p– dissidents imprisoned in– in Cuba.

Bernie Sanders: That’s right. And we condemn that. Unlike Donald Trump, let’s be clear, you want to– I do not think that Kim Jong Un is a good friend. I don’t trade love letters with a murdering dictator. Vladimir Putin, not a great friend of mine.

What a lame dodge. This tweet is a John Derbyshire quote, cited by a man whose family fled Castro’s Cuba:

It’s really true. I’ve had these exact arguments often over the years, with leftists defending communist countries. The element missing from Bernie’s remarks last night was, “And they achieved these things despite being under constant threat from the United States.” Heard that a lot.

Strangely enough, we never saw people fleeing from the United States to those countries, for the sake of the literacy and health care; we only saw the opposite. Funny how that happened.

Here’s why Bernie’s voters are motivated for him (boldface mine):

Bernie Sanders: Yeah, let’s go easy on the word rev– “political revolution”, you know? We’re– we’re trying to follow-

Anderson Cooper: Y– you’re the one who’s using the word.

Bernie Sanders: Well, I mean, you know, but I don’t want people, you know, to overstate that. But here is the point. It’s not good enough to complain, “Oh, I cannot afford my health care. I can’t afford childcare. I can’t afford to send my kid to college. I’m paying half of my income in rent.” You know? If you’re not happy about that, you got to be involved in the political process. Only millions of people standing up for justice can bring about the kind of change that this country requires. And I believe that has got to happen.

I really do believe that we on the Right who believe that yelling “But he’s a socialist!” will be enough are taking a dangerous chance. True story: When I was walking through Warsaw last year with my translator, he told me that as much as his family hated communism, his grandmother told him that they didn’t have regular doctors’ visits to their rural village until the communists came to power. Did that make it worth submitting to this godless totalitarian system. By no means! The point he was making is that it wasn’t exclusively about repression. That some material good came of it — though at the expense of generally impoverishing the entire nation, and turning it into a police state.

And that’s the point about Bernie and Castro. For some reason, his generation of leftists are shamefully sympathetic to those grim, repressive communist regimes — regimes under which they would not have lived for one moment. It reveals a repulsive lack of sympathy for prisoners of conscience under those regimes. When I hear Bernie talk, I recall an argument at a dinner table back in the 1980s that I had with an elderly leftist who had just returned from a “peace trip” to the Soviet Union. I myself was a liberal back then, but was active in Amnesty International on campus, organizing letter-writing campaigns for prisoners of conscience. As this elderly lady kept bringing up all the glorious things about the Soviet Union, I would ask her about the political repression. I was polite about it, but it made her angry. She finally fumed, “I think you just hate the Soviet people!”

I’m not worried that President Sanders would ally the US to Cuba. Fidel Castro is dead, and Bernie’s not looking so good himself. What I worry is that Sanders’s bog-standard sympathies for these regimes — sympathies of which he clearly has not repented — will characterize the kind of government he would lead: a government that has an insufficient regard for civil liberties, as long as the state is providing health care and literacy. Read this post about Bernie’s hostility to religious liberty, alongside his praise of atheistic regimes that imprisoned and tortured religious dissidents. No, I don’t think Bernie is going to send pastors to an American gulag. I am worried, though, that he would be the most hostile president to religious liberty that we’ve ever had, because it doesn’t register with him as something to worry about, except in a superficial, reactive left-wing way, e.g., a conservative Christian said that he doesn’t believe Islam is true, which made Sen. Sanders grandstand in a hearing to criticize “Islamophobia.” I think Bernie was sincere there, but sincerely shallow.

If any of these other Democratic candidates want to have a prayer of derailing Sanders, they’ve got to put him seriously on the defensive about his communist sympathies. Does Elizabeth Warren have the courage, and the good sense, to tear into Bernie over this the way she tore into Bloomberg over sexual harassment? Probably not, because in her social class, “red baiting” is the Worst Thing In The World, right up there with transphobia.

UPDATE: Yes, this is true:

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