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Sean Penn and the Politics of Poverty Worship

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of

One of the most baffling things about leftists is their willingness to excuse any brutality, as long as its perpetrators swear up and down that they "care" about the "people."

(With Sean Penn's embarrassingly bad essay in Rolling Stone about Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, we must add leftists' tolerance for bad writing, as well. Rolling Stone should have titled it "El Chapo meets El Guano," because Sean Penn must be bats--- crazy. Or perhaps Penn followed El Chapo's lead and insisted upon "no changes" to his essay, and then wrote it after one too many shots of tequila.)

In Penn's essay, El Chapo gets a pass for his murderous career dealing drugs, because he launched it from a poor village in Mexico. That just gives him the street cred he needs for a narrative that pleases the cult of the poverty worshippers: Impoverished beginnings, check.

Fawning adulation for men like Joaquin Guzman is nothing new for people with Sean Penn's ideological bent. And that's the sad part. Throughout contemporary history, some of the most murderous regimes have been established -- and purportedly run -- for the benefit of the poor. And yet it is the "poor" and the "little guy" who get ground up like hamburger, as they lack the wherewithal to leave and escape the tyranny and oppression that follow.

Thus could Mao Zedong be responsible for the deaths of somewhere between 45 and 80 million Chinese (accounts differ) in the name of an ideology that was supposed to bring prosperity and equality to "the people."  Lofty populist aspirations, check. 

Pol Pot and his Khmer Rouge sought to eliminate economic class distinctions and create "perfect Marxist egalitarianism" in Cambodia, even if it cost the lives of 4 million people -- over half the country's population -- by genocidal murder and forced starvation. (SET ITAL) Eliminate the bourgeoisie: check. 

Closer to home, Cuba is another example of failed collectivism with deadly consequences. (In fact, didn't Sean Penn travel there, too, to meet with the Castro brothers -- while political prisoners languished in jail? Why yes. Yes, he did. And with Hugo Chavez, another left-wing faux-populist-turned-dictator, whose disastrous economic policies destroyed Venezuela.)

Since we're discussing South America, one must not forget Peru's "Shining Path," founded by former university professor Abimael Guzman (movement started by intellectuals: check) to provide "popular justice" to Peruvian peasants. The paths of Peru were made to shine with the blood of the communists' victims, as Shining Path assassinated political opponents and massacred villagers, including women and children.

Asia has North Korea -- another communist dictatorship infamous for repression, prison camps, famine and execution of political dissidents. (The People's Democratic Republic of Korea may also be the only country that has the dubious distinction of outdoing ISIS in creative brutality -- strafing the objects of leader Kim Jong Un's petulant ire with anti-aircraft gunfire. Use of "People" in the country's name, check. 

And then there's the granddaddy of them all, the former Soviet Union, whose abysmally failed top-down economic policies are the stuff of stand-up comedy. But the 50 to 60 million deaths from starvation, political purges, executions and prison camps (particularly under Josef Stalin) are staggering. And yet New York Times reporter Walter Duranty received a Pulitzer Prize in 1932 for his upbeat reporting on Stalin's Soviet Union that completely covered up Stalin's brutality and the horrific realities of life in that regime -- a feat which has since been characterized as "presenting Soviet propaganda as legitimate reporting." Say it ain't so! Duranty had plenty of company then, and would today as well, among the entertainers, intellectuals, and media elite who continue to serve as apologists and advocates for leftist collectivism.

Power-mad megalomaniacs are always murderous. But left-wing power-mad megalomaniacs are particularly bloodthirsty. (In fact, according to the website InformationIsBeautiful, communism was the leading cause of death-by-ideology in the 20th century, outpacing even death caused by fascist or military dictatorships, and by a wide margin.) Perhaps this is because they know that the world's elite will politely look away and clap approvingly, as long as the right pious platitudes are mouthed.

In spite of overwhelming evidence of the failure of collectivism -- and the left-wing ideologies that spawn it -- advocates still insist that communist and/or socialist political and economic systems "just haven't been done right." Translation: Poverty sucks, but only in a system where it's possible to work your way up and out of it. By contrast, it's peachy keen if (SET ITAL) everyone is left equally destitute by the state.

Everyone except for the dear leaders and their cronies, of course.

After murderousness, hypocrisy is the other attribute that ultra-left dictatorial regimes have in common. The leaders of these so-called populist movements pretend to care about the little people, whilst living in splendor that rivals that of the very kings, princes, czars or capitalist moguls they've often deposed and always despised.

Come to think of it, rather like Hollywood celebrities.

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