Thomas Sowell

The term "useful idiots" has been attributed to Lenin, as a description of those mindless people in the Western democracies who would always find ways to excuse whatever the Soviet Union did. Columnist Mona Charen's new book Useful Idiots shows that such people are still with us.

Long after the Soviet Union's horrors had become too widely known around the world for their sympathizers in the West to be able to get away with whitewashing the USSR, new Communist dictatorships arose to become the new objects of the affections of the Western intelligentsia and of like-minded people in the media and in politics.

As Mona Charen's book <read book review> makes painfully clear, this usually happened in a pattern that was repeated again and again, with the same useful idiots saying the same kinds of things again and again. She spells this out and names names, quoting Peter Jennings, Jesse Jackson, Anthony Lewis, Ted Kennedy, Ted Turner and a long list of others.

The founding of the Castro dictatorship in Cuba set the pattern that was followed later in Nicaragua, El Salvador, and Grenada. By initially concealing the fact that he was a Communist, and having some non-Communists around him as window dressing, Fidel Castro was able to play the role of a popular liberator, out to end oppression, hold free elections, and do all sorts of good things for "the people."

The useful idiots in the United States and other Western democracies ate it up. Many still do, to this very moment.

Once in power, Castro tolerated no opposition, held no free elections, and established a police state that made the previous dictators look like amateurs. Those who spoke out against what was happening were jailed or executed. So were those who tried to flee the country.

Now that the mask of liberator was no longer necessary, Castro revealed that he was -- and always had been -- a Communist, despite useful idiots who claimed that it was American hostility which drove him into the arms of the Soviet Union.

Not only was Castro part of the Soviet bloc from day one, he made Cuba the first Soviet military base in the Western Hemisphere and supplied Cuban troops to go help other Communists to gain and hold power in Africa.


Thomas Sowell

Thomas Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institute and author of The Housing Boom and Bust.

Creators Syndicate

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