Posted by Curt on 14 April, 2023 at 10:35 am. 43 comments already!


By Mark Judge

About a week before Jeff Sharlet’s new book The Undertow: Scenes from a Slow Civil War, was published in March, a new video was uploaded on YouTube. It was a short documentary from 1983 of when Harry Belafonte, an iconic American singer and actor, visited East Germany to perform in a concert promoting communism . The “World Peace Concert” was run by East Germany’s communist youth organization. Belafonte gave his blessings to the Soviet-sponsored campaign promoting unilateral Western disarmament.

The Belafonte concert is barely mentioned in The Undertow, a collection of essays and reporting by Sharlet, an award-winning journalist who teaches at Dartmouth College. Indeed, little of the Left’s history of flirting with authoritarianism is mentioned at all. Instead, The Undertow argues that a bunch of crazy right-wingers, including militia groups, are bent on conflict with the Left. They want a second civil war, Sharlet claims, and those who stand up to oppose them are American leftists, portrayed as Christlike figures of light and wisdom.

While announcing the Right has a strong and growing MAGA force that is armed and dangerous and itching for battle, Sharlet smothers any proof that the Left is violent and crazy. His book, which opens with a long and loving profile of Belafonte, fails to mention the singer’s hardcore leftism.

Not even Belafonte tried to airbrush his beliefs. In his memoir, Belafonte wrote: “I remained not just liberal but an unabashed lefty. I was still drawn to idealistic left-wing leaders … who seemed to embody the true ideals of socialism .”

Belafonte was friends with the communist singer Paul Robeson. He praised Hugo Chavez and Fidel Castro, writing that the latter has “a strong grasp of Latin American history and of the fine distinctions in law between Venezuela and its neighbors.” Belafonte called former President George W. Bush “the greatest tyrant, the greatest terrorist in the world.” He was a Marxist — pure and simple.

None of this is reported in The Undertow. Instead, Belafonte is portrayed by Sharlet simply as an inspirational civil rights leader — “a radiant man” who was friends with Martin Luther King Jr. and who remains a political visionary. Sharlet’s book is pure agitprop. It condemns conservatives and treats even the most violent and despicable leftists as, quite literally, messianic. In his essay about Occupy Wall Street, for example, the 2011 leftist street protests that resulted in stinky unbathed bodies and reports of sexual assault, Sharlet claims he felt like Jesus Christ — well, sort of: “I feel like one of five hundred title Christs, if by Christ you allow me to refer not to divinity itself but to one of its more wholly human representations, Andres Serrano’s 1987 photograph Piss Christ.”

Say what? Piss Christ is a notorious piece of garbage “art” that was created when Serrano placed a crucifix in a jar of his urine. To Sharlet, this is the icon worth emulating: “Appreciating what happened at Liberty Park [in New York’s Occupy Wall Street] requires a mental shift akin to the one necessary to see Piss Christ — an image of a plastic crucifix submerged in the artist’s own golden urine — as not blasphemous but a strange breed of beautiful. I don’t mean ideologically beautiful, some baroque idea one admires for the complexity of its inversions. I mean gorgeous. Breathtaking, breath-giving, at the same time.”

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