[Marxism] Hell hath no fury like an imperialist scorned
lnp3 at panix.com
Thu Mar 5 07:28:37 MST 2009
(from the latest anti-Empire report by Bill Blum)
Hell hath no fury like an imperialist scorned
Hugo Chávez's greatest sin is that he has shown disrespect for the
American Empire. Or as they would say in America's inner cities — He's
dissed the Man. Such behavior of course cannot go unpunished lest it
give other national leaders the wrong idea. Over the years, the United
States has gotten along just fine with brutal dictators, mass murderers,
torturers, and leaders who did nothing to relieve the poverty of their
population — Augusto Pinochet, Pol Pot, the Greek Junta, Ferdinand
Marcos, Suharto, Duvalier, Mobutu, the Brazil Junta, Somoza, Saddam
Hussein, South African apartheid leaders, Portuguese fascists, etc.,
etc., terrible guys all, all seriously supported by Washington at one
time or another; for none made it a regular habit, if ever, to diss the Man.
The latest evidence, we are told, that Hugo Chávez is a dictator and a
threat to life as we know it is that he pushed for and got a
constitutional amendment to remove term limits from the presidency. The
American media and the opposition in Venezuela often make it sound as if
Chávez is going to be guaranteed office for life, whereas he of course
will have to be elected each time. Neither are we reminded that it's not
unusual for a nation to not have a term limit for its highest office.
France, Germany, and the United Kingdom, if not all of Europe and much
of the rest of the world, do not have such a limit. The United States
did not have a term limit on the office of the president during the
nation's first 162 years, until the ratification of the 22nd Amendment
in 1951. Were all American presidents prior to that time dictators?
In 2005, when Colombian President Alvaro Uribe succeeded in getting term
limits lifted, the US mainstream media took scant notice. President Bush
subsequently honored Uribe with the American Presidential Medal of
Freedom. But in the period leading up to the February 15 referendum in
Venezuela, the American media were competing with each other over who
could paint Chávez and the Venezuelan constitutional process in the most
critical and ominous terms. Typical was an op-ed in the Washington Post
the day before the vote, which was headlined: "Closing in on Hugo
Chávez". Its opening sentence read: "The beginning of the end is setting
in for Hugo Chávez."12
For several years now, the campaign to malign Chávez has at times
included issues of Israel and anti-Semitism. An isolated vandalism of a
Caracas synagogue on January 30th of this year fed into this campaign.
Synagogues are of course vandalized occasionally in the United States
and many European countries, but no one ascribes this to a government
policy driven by anti-semitism. With Chávez they do. In the American
media, the lead up to the Venezuelan vote was never far removed from the
alleged "Jewish" issue.
"Despite the government’s efforts to put the [synagogue] controversy to
rest," the New York Times wrote a few days before the referendum vote,
"a sense of dread still lingers among Venezuela’s 12,000 to 14,000 Jews."13
A day earlier, a Washington Post editorial was entitled: "Mr. Chávez vs.
the Jews - With George W. Bush gone, Venezuela's strongman has found new
enemies."14 Shortly before, a Post headline had informed us: "Jews in S.
America Increasingly Uneasy - Government and Media Seen Fostering
Anti-Semitism in Venezuela, Elsewhere"15
So commonplace has the Chávez-Jewish association become that a leading
US progressive organization, Council on Hemispheric Affairs (COHA) in
Washington, DC, recently distributed an article that reads more like the
handiwork of a conservative group than a progressive one. I was prompted
to write to them as follows:
I'm very sorry to say that I found your Venezuelan commentary by
Larry Birns and David Rosenblum Felson to be remarkably lacking. The
authors seem unable, or unwilling, to distinguish between being against
Israeli policies from anti-semitism. It's kind of late in the day for
them to not have comprehended the difference. They are forced to fall
back on a State Department statement to make their case. Is that not
They condemn Chávez likening Israel’s occupation of Gaza to the
Holocaust. But what if it's an apt comparison? They don't delve into
this question at all.
They also condemn the use of the word "Zionism", saying that "in 9
times out of 10 involving the use of this word in fact smacks of
anti-Semitism." Really? Can they give a precise explanation of how one
distinguishes between an anti-Semitic use of the word and a
non-anti-semitic use of it? That would be interesting.
The authors write that Venezuela's "anti-Israeli initiative ...
revealingly transcends the intensity of almost every Arabic nation or
normal adversary of Israel." Really. Since when are the totally gutless,
dictator Arab nations the standard bearer for progressives? The ideal we
should emulate. Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Jordan are almost never
seriously and harshly critical of Israeli policies toward the
Palestinians. Therefore, Venezuela shouldn't be?
The authors state: "In a Christmas Eve address to the nation,
Chávez charged that, 'Some minorities, descendants of the same ones who
crucified Christ ... took all the world’s wealth for themselves'. Here,
Chávez was not talking so much about Robin Hood, but rather
unquestionably dipping into the lore of anti-Semitism." Well, here's the
full quote: "The world has enough for all, but it turns out that some
minorities, descendants of the same ones who crucified Christ,
descendants of the same ones who threw Bolivar out of here and also
crucified him in their own way at Santa Marta there in Colombia ..."
Hmm, were the Jews so active in South America?
The ellipsis after the word "Christ" indicates that the authors
consciously and purposely omitted the words that would have given the
lie to their premise. Truly astonishing.
After Chávez won the term-limits referendum with about 55% of the vote,
a State Department spokesperson stated: "For the most part this was a
process that was fully consistent with democratic process." Various
individuals and websites on the left have responded to this as an
encouraging sign that the Obama administration is embarking on a new
Venezuelan policy. At the risk of sounding like a knee-reflex cynic, I
think this attitude is at best premature, at worst rather naive. It's
easy for a State Department a level-or-so above the Bushies, i.e.,
semi-civilized, to make such a statement. A little more difficult would
be accepting as normal and unthreatening Venezuela having good relations
with countries like Cuba, Iran and Russia and not blocking Venezuela
from the UN Security Council. Even more significant would be the United
States ending its funding of groups in Venezuela determined to subvert
and/or overthrow Chávez.
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