Last weekend's Castro droologies reminded us that, for Justin Trudeau and too many others, mass-murdering dictators are kind of a turn-on, a geopolitical S&M fetish - as long as it's millions of distant, disposable Third World types making up the M end of the deal. The Spectator's Douglas Murray found himself booked to discuss the monster with his apologist Richard Gott, and got to the nub of the matter:
But really all it is is that Castro himself provided a rallying point for everybody who was anti-American. Of course there are people who hate America — hated America in the Cold War and still hate it today - who have to extol this man, despite the grotesque human rights abuses he carried out, and make excuses for him.
You can watch the full exchange below:
But perhaps the most revealing aspect of this discussion is the person put up to defend Castro - former Guardian literary editor Richard Gott. As Douglas remarks:
I don't remember the Vietnam war, but I do remember that you had to leave your job at The Guardian because you were outed as an agent of influence at the KGB. So it's not like listening to a normal critic is it? It's like listening to somebody who worked for the SS talking about the Nazi rule in Germany in the Forties.
That's correct. Mr Gott was recruited by the KGB in the Seventies and served as a Soviet "agent of influence" until the USSR imploded in the Nineties.
You'll notice that the Sky News hostess then cautions Douglas not to get "too personal" - as if pointing out that your fellow panelist spent two decades as a paid agent of his nation's enemies is somehow ad hominem, and indeed faintly vulgar even to bring up.
As always, you wonder what a man of the left has to do to put himself beyond the pale.
On the right, it's a lot easier. The website Breitbart - founded by my late comrade Andrew Breitbart - is sufficiently beyond the pale for Kellogg's to announce that it is withdrawing its advertising from the site on the grounds that Breitbart does not reflect the company's "values". It is news to me that a cereal manufacturer has "values", other than nutritional values listed down the side of the box - and, just to be pedantic about it, Kellogg's does not really advertise on Breitbart at all: like most Internet advertisers, it has a general ad buy that turns up all over the place according to how many eyeballs each site has. So it's having to spend money to create an algorithm which will detect when a Frosted Flakes or Rice Krispies banner is in danger of airing on Breitbart, and then prevent it from doing so.
Why would Kellogg's go to so much trouble? According to the anonymous deadbeats of the Associated Press:
Breitbart has been condemned for featuring racist, sexist and anti-Semitic content.
AP doesn't actually produce any evidence of "racist, sexist and anti-Semitic content", which would require considerable journalistic effort on its part. Instead, it states blandly that the site has been "condemned" as such. "Condemned" used to be a term with legal meaning: A judge tells a convicted man that he is "condemned to hang". But in this case Breitbart hasn't been convicted of anything, merely labeled by its political opponents. Just like Reuters could "condemn" Associated Press for "featuring pedophile content". If labeling is all it now takes.
And in fact the real target here is not Breitbart so much as the incoming President of the United States, who has appointed Breitbart honcho Steve Bannon as a senior counselor. The losing side in the election wants to "de-normalize" Trump and his administration, by in effect de-legitimizing his voters and their electoral victory.
Such an act is squalid and contemptible, and potentially very perilous to pluralistic societies, which by definition any free society must be. So why would the manufacturers of something as apolitical as crappy inedible cardboard cereal go along with it?
The left is determined to pressure all corporations to join them in the culture war, and most corporate personnel -- being largely socially liberal anway, and viewing compliance with the left's demands to be the path of least resistance-- tend to sign up to be part of the Left's Social Justice Army.
This is an amoral business decision. And frankly it makes sense as an amoral business decision -- because one side is making demands, taking hostages, and organizing boycotts, and the other side says things like "Leave the poor corporations alone" and "It's a business decision you have no right to interfere with.."
As I said: It's a rational business decision. Because when you look at the incentives, a company's incentives plainly lay on the side of going along with the left, because the right doesn't play this game out of misplaced "principle."
Just so. Ace quotes a Nissan spokesman:
[Nissan] places ads in a variety of sites in order to reach as many consumers as possible.
The placement of Nissan advertising is not intended to be a political commentary and there are no plans to change the advertising mix at this time.
That's the correct response, but it's not good enough for the left. John Hinderaker:
I am not generally a fan of boycotts, but this, like so much else in our civic life, has been a one-way street. Executives at companies like Kellogg need to understand that ours is not a one-party state.
I hate boycotts, too. I want to be free to reject Kellogg's cereals because they suck rather than because buying them is a political act. But John Hinderaker's right: This is a one-way street that leads to a de facto one-party state, or at any rate a one-party culture. The left wants a world in which a discount furniture warehouse is free to advertise with Rachel Maddow but not Rush Limbaugh. And in pushing further and further down that path they make everything political, and render normal civic life all but impossible - to the point where the CEO of something as universal and unobjectionable as Kellogg's Corn Flakes finds it easier to side with the losing side in a free election, and against half of his fellow citizens. So, if Kellogg's wants to shrink the market for Frosted Flakes by 50 per cent, fine: let's frost 'em out, until they understand that, in politicizing everything, they're the flakes.
Will they get away with it? Other corporations that prioritize politics over products aren't:
Not only has ESPN and the NFL willfully entered into the political fray, so did Anheuser-Busch InBev - to the same detrimental results.
After the beer company aired an advertisement featuring comedians Amy Schumer and Seth Rogen this October that was preachy, unfunny, and political, Bud Light sales were destroyed.
November 8th happened in part because Trump and his supporters decided to hell with that one-way street - to a world in which Richard Gott's decades of service to the KGB pose no obstacle to his membership of polite society but Breitbart can never be allowed within earshot of a single snap, crackle or pop.
America is a split nation politically. If the likes of Kellogg's and Anheuser-Busch want to extend that split to beer and corn flakes, there won't be a lot left. The damage is not just to their brands but to the kind of civil society that produces companies like theirs. If the left really cannot handle losing an election, why don't they just cut to the chase and demand full-out civil war?