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Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Popular Useful Idiots

Here are not-so popular useful idiots one finds everyday and then there are popular useful idiots. Not-so popular ones don't do much damage until they help create terror or help destroy innocent lives - like the Tehelka sting operation and its supporters are doing now. The popular ones are the most dangerous ones.

Anne Applebaum, of Washington Post, writes about the latest popular useful idiots - a phrase used by Lenin referring to foreigners supporting his revolution and newly established workers paradise Bolshevik system in Russia.

Exhibit A is [Naomi] Campbell. Though better known for her taste in shoes than for her opinions about Latin American economics, she nevertheless turned up in Caracas last week gushing about the "love and encouragement" Chávez pours into his welfare programs. Wearing what a Venezuelan newspaper called "a revolutionary and exquisite white dress from the prestigious Fendi fashion house," she praised the country for its "big waterfalls." Not surprisingly, Campbell did not mention the anti-Chávez demonstrations held in Caracas the week before her visit; proposed constitutional changes designed to let Chávez remain in power indefinitely; or Chávez's record of harassing opposition leaders and the media.

But then, that wasn't the point of her visit, just as it wasn't the point when actor Sean Penn, a self-conscious "radical" and avowed enemy of the American president, spent a whole day with Chávez. Together, the actor and the president toured the countryside. "I came here looking for a great country. I found a great country," Penn declared. Of course he found a great country! Penn wanted a country where he would win adulation for his views about American politics, and the Venezuelan president happily provided it.

In fact, for the malcontents of Hollywood, academia and the catwalks, Chávez is an ideal ally. Just as the sympathetic foreigners whom Lenin called "useful idiots" once supported Russia abroad, their modern equivalents provide the Venezuelan president with legitimacy, attention and good photographs. He, in turn, helps them overcome the frustration [John] Reed once felt -- the frustration of living in an annoyingly unrevolutionary country where people have to change things by law. [The New Fellow Travelers - WaPo]