This column by ACRU Senior Fellow Robert Knight was published March 27, 2016 by The Washington Times.
Six years ago, comedienne Victoria Jackson made a funny but serious video playing the ukulele and singing in little girl voice, “There’s a Communist Living in the White House!”
In verse after verse, she recounts President Obama’s many radical roots and connections. Included are Mr. Obama’s mentoring as a teen by Communist Party writer Frank Marshall Davis, Mr. Obama’s political “coming out” at the Chicago home of Weather Underground terrorists Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn, his attending for 20 years the church of “black liberation theology” pastor Jeremiah Wright and his appointing Communist Party “truther” Van Jones as White House “green jobs czar.”
That just scratches the surface. So, when I viewed the photo last week of Mr. Obama standing with Cuban communists in front of a huge, iconic image of Ernesto “Che” Guevara in Havana, I thought of Miss Jackson.
It’s hard to imagine what Cubans who fled Castro’s regime and lost family members must have felt seeing the American president looking right at home in front of that enormous portrait.
Perhaps it’s time for Miss Jackson to update the song, adding verses about Obamacare, our LGBT-enhanced military, the government takeover of student loans, massive spending, the rise of the Free Stuff Army, the authoritarian abuses of the IRS and EPA and other steps along Mr. Obama’s road to socialism.
When Cuban dictator Raul Castro chided America for our “double standard” on human rights, citing the military prison in Guantanamo Bay and alleged failings in health care, education, and equal pay, Mr. Obama said, “I actually welcome President Castro commenting on some of the areas where he feels we’re falling short.”
The ghost of Che Guevara must have been laughing in delight.
The Argentine-born Marxist in the beret with a single star who symbolizes the Cuban revolution has a special place in the hearts of progressives, who regard him as a Latin version of Samuel Adams. Che’s image adorns T-shirts, handbags and many other products.
In the 2004 film “The Motorcycle Diaries,” for which Robert Redford was an executive producer, Che is a youthful hedonist and budding idealist who develops a revolutionary zeal to help the poor. Unfortunately, Che chose Vladimir Lenin as a role model instead of someone like Mother Teresa, and he became Fidel Castro’s homicidal enforcer until he was killed in Bolivia in 1967.
In the interests of historical veracity, here are a few inconvenient facts courtesy of Peruvian writer Alvaro Vargas Llosa, from a 2005 New Republic article, “The Killing Machine”: “In April 1967, speaking from experience, [Che] summed up his homicidal idea of justice in his ‘Message to the Tricontinental’: ‘hatred as an element of struggle; unbending hatred for the enemy, which pushes a human being beyond his natural limitations, making him into an effective, violent, selective, and cold-blooded killing machine.’” Just the sort of person you want kids to emulate.
For a time, Guevara ran the notorious La Cabana prison, executing hundreds of people the Castros found troublesome. One surviving inmate recalled early morning executions of many who died shouting “‘Long live Christ the King!’”
Later, Guevara presided over mass incarcerations.
“Herded into buses and trucks, the ‘unfit’ would be transported at gunpoint into concentration camps,” Llosa wrote. “Some would never return; others would be raped, beaten, or mutilated.”
In 1961, after the Cuban Missile Crisis ended, a disappointed Guevara told a British communist daily: “If the rockets had remained, we would have used them all and directed them against the very heart of the United States, including New York.”
Maybe that quote should go on the next Che T-shirt sold in Times Square.
Besides his group shot in front of Che, there’s another enduring image of Mr. Obama’s visit to Cuba. There he is, doing “the wave” with Raul Castro at a baseball game between the Cuban national team and the Tampa Bay Rays (who won 4-1). The comradely scene unfolded the same day Islamist terrorists slaughtered dozens in Brussels, Belgium, including several Americans. Mr. Obama did devote 51 seconds of his 34-minute Havana remarks to the massacre.
Leaving Cuba, Mr. Obama went to Argentina, where in a Q&A with students, he made an astounding statement of moral equivalence.
“Often in the past there’s been a sharp division between left and right, between capitalist and communist or socialist. Oh, you know, you’re a capitalist Yankee dog, and oh, you know, you’re some crazy communist that’s going to take away everybody’s property. Those are interesting intellectual arguments, but I think for your generation, you should be practical and just choose from what works.”
It’s time for Victoria Jackson to break out her ukulele again.