A recent pilgrimage by a “delegation” of three Chicago schoolteachers to Venezuela in a show of support for dictator Nicolas Maduro is a reminder that you truly cannot fix stupid. A stubborn strain of obtuseness runs through humanity that apparently no real-world demonstration of socialism’s horrors can eliminate. The saddest aspect of this spectacle, perhaps, is that the chosen vocation of these pathetic diehards extolling Maduro’s madness is educating America’s youth.
Despite a century’s experience in the abject failure of socialism’s economic policies, the mass slaughter that invariably accompanies it, and the societal wreckage left in its wake; there always seem to be those who tirelessly and inexplicably cling to the utopian aspirations of socialist tyrants. And there can always be found those, like these Chicago teachers, Michael Moore, Sean Penn, and others who can be called upon to trek to socialist hells like Venezuela and Cuba and come back with glowing reports of their success.
The phrase often used for these dupes is “useful idiots,” a term usually attributed to the founder of the Soviet Union, Vladimir Lenin, although there exists some doubt over the term’s true provenance. It is apparently absent from Lenin’s writings. However, what’s not in doubt is that Lenin and his successor, Josef Stalin, did recognize the utility of these useful idiots in helping persuade others to believe that which is not so about the wonders of socialism/communism.
In fact, the trip by the Chicago schoolteachers is very reminiscent of a trip to the USSR organized by the Soviet government for a bunch of left-leaning American celebrity types (actors and writers) in the 1930s in order to fete them and show them the glories of Marxism-Leninism in action. They counted on these American rubes - think your 1930s equivalent of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Bernie Sanders - to speak and write favorably of what they would see in Mother Russia. They were to dispel nasty rumors about millions of people starving to death in Stalin’s collectivization of Ukrainian farmland, which turned the Breadbasket of Europe into the Wasteland of the Soviets, not unlike the once oil-rich Venezuela becoming the beggar of South America. Of course, the rumors of millions in Ukraine dying were true, with estimates of the dead ranging from three to ten million. But hey, if you’re going to make an omelet…
The Windy City teachers, who proudly belong to the #RedForEd movement (I am not making this up) apparently have a blog called Radical Educator Collective. They also loudly proclaimed their membership in the Chicago Teachers Union, wore CTU hats in their Venezuela excursion pics and pimped a document called “CTU Resolution to Oppose the Invasion of Venezuela.” The three teachers, Sarah Chambers, V. Voeta Vargas, and Fabiana Casas, were joined by Teamster-turned-CTU union organizer Richard Berg. CTU, you must be so proud.
If the teachers’ grammar is any reflection of the quality of education that Chicago kids are receiving from this luddite group, perhaps we’d be better off if they’d remained in Caracas. Ms. Chambers, most recently (as far as I can tell) employed by the Maria Saucedo Scholastic Academy, an alleged “magnet school” for STEM kids, tweeted out this gem in response to a Twitter critic who took issue with her travel to Maduro’s paradise: “Have you visited Venezuela & spoke to 100s there? As a teacher, I teach my students to be critical thinkers, to get primary sources, listen to ppl’s stories & do research before just believing any news. I suggest you do the same.”
I hope she doesn’t teach English composition. In any event, it seems that Ms. Chambers may have been jettisoned by Maria Saucedo in 2017, so it’s not clear to me where she hangs her hammer and sickle right now. I haven’t readily been able to identify a more current employer.
As millions of people are fleeing Venezuela due to hyperinflation, starvation, disease, extrajudicial killings, and all the other joys of the Maduro regime, four never-say-die-to-socialism representatives of Chicago’s educator class headed into Venezuela in July, elbowing their way through the teeming hordes of Venezuelans fleeing in the opposite direction. Then they got their picture taken with Maduro apparatchiks, who must have wondered what was wrong in the head with these silly gringos.
In what sounds like a Saturday Night Live sketch, the Chicago Tribune said the quartet “wrote admiringly of its [Venezuela’s] socialism, its communes and high literacy rates.” Never mind the masses of people eating from dumpsters, with the average Venezuelan losing 19 pounds a year due to food shortages. And to think I’ve been doing Weight Watchers. Maybe my own excursion to the Paradise of Hugo Chavez would hasten my diminution.
The useful idiots who returned to America from the Soviet sojourn spoke admiringly of the Soviet experience with Marxism-Leninism too. They were probably a bit more effective in their propagandizing for that odious regime, though. New York Times reporter Walter Duranty consistently lied about true conditions in the USSR and in the process convinced President Roosevelt to recognize the Soviet regime in 1933. Duranty, now believed to have been a paid Soviet agent, actually won a Pulitzer prize in 1932 for his phony reports on the USSR. The Pulitzer Board looked at the issue of revoking the prize for Duranty’s fake news reports on the successes of Soviet collectivization in 2003 but, gosh darn it, just couldn’t see fit to rescind it. However, it did “extend its sympathies” to the millions of dead from Stalin’s policies. I’m sure that was comforting to Ukrainians.
The Left Coast has its own version of the Chicago teachers in the form of a California middle school teacher named Yvette Felarca. She was a prominent figure in a Marxist Antifa group called By Any Means Necessary, who assaulted a right-wing protester for carrying a sign at a rally that she didn’t like. She eventually sued her employer, Berkeley Unified School District, to stop Judicial Watch's efforts to obtain her communications and disciplinary records. She lost, with the judge calling her suit 'entirely frivolous' and ordering her to pay over $20,000 in legal fees and costs.
While these individuals do not represent the entirety of the education profession, of course, their extremism does give pause for concern. If America’s youth are not taught the true history of the carnage wrought by 100 years of communist and socialist pathology, they may be doomed to repeat it under an Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders or AOC.
William F. Marshall has been an intelligence analyst and investigator in the government, private, and non-profit sectors for more than 30 years. He is a senior investigator for Judicial Watch, Inc. and a regular contributor to Town Hall, American Thinker, and The Federalist. (The views expressed are the author’s alone, and not necessarily those of Judicial Watch.)