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Harry Belafonte Goes Bananas in a Banana Republic

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In 2002 Harry Belafonte called Colin Powell a ‘House Slave’. In August of this year he called African-Americans in the government ‘black tyrants’, compared the Bush administration to Nazi Germany and made the classic comment that “Hitler had a lot of Jews high up in the hierarchy.” At one time he even commented “If you believe in freedom! If you believe in justice, if you believe in democracy– you have no choice but to support Fidel Castro!”

One might think that Belafonte had made enough crazy, confused and anti-American statements for a decade, but this week he took a trip to Venezuela as a UNICEF ‘goodwill ambassador’, and got on stage with neo-communist dictator Hugo Chavez and couldn’t resist the opportunity to shout his defiance of Bush, of reality and of sanity.

Belafonte started out his remarks by once again demonstrating his firm command of facts when he commented that the United States builds more prisons than schools, a pretty remarkable conclusion considering we have about 6 million kids in school and only about 1.7 million criminals in prison. Maybe our schools are really, really big. How long is the bus ride to your local 10,000 student megaschool?

There’s no question Belafonte knows how to spread goodwill with semi-delusional anti-American communists, though. He spoke right to Hugo Chavez’ heart when he wrapped up his rant by saying:

“No matter what the greatest tyrant in the world, the greatest terrorist in the world, George W. Bush says, we’re here to tell you: Not hundreds, not thousands, but millions of the American people … support your revolution.”

Those would be the millions of Americans who vacation in Cuba and think that Jews ran the Third Reich. On the Daily Show John Stewart offered the astute observation that he doubted there were millions of Americans who even knew where Venezuela was.

UNICEF issued a press release to make sure everyone is aware that Belafonte was speaking “as a private citizen and was not speaking as a UNICEF ambassador, nor acting in an official capacity on behalf of the organisation.” This despite the fact that they sent him to Venezuela in full awareness of his beliefs, because this is just the latest in a series of ill-considered and offensive statements, none of which lost him his job as a ‘goodwill ambassador.’ I guess if they didn’t fire him for calling Colin Powell a ‘house slave’ or thinking that Hitler was a major employer of Jews, there’s not much he could do to lose their support.

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About Dave Nalle

  • Maurice

    Great writing as usual, Dave.

    It does make me wonder how a guy could have such outlandish thoughts. What does he think of the poor and starving in Venezuela? I’ve never been to a true 3rd world country but I have traveled for months at a time through Europe and Asia. I was amazed at the abject poverty. Even a wealthy country like England looks poor and dirty compared to the great US.

    I think it was Tony Blair that said, “You can measure a countries success by how many people are trying to get in versus how many people are trying to get out”.

  • http://www.diablog.us Dave Nalle

    Belafonte actually made some comments on poverty and related issues, and basically held Venezuela up as a positive example in comparison to the US where he thinks the poor and minorities are being oppressed – never mind that our official poverty level is more than double the median income in Venezuela.

    The reason he and other extreme left types like Venezuela so much is that Chavez has now seized the land of the wealthy families and corporations and is redistributing it to the common people – in other words, attempting to create an artificial agrarian paradise, a process which has a history of being disastrous. At least he hasn’t tried combining land redistribution with collectivism…yet. When it turns out that a system of small farms is inefficient and raises the price of their agricultural exports he’s likely to turn to collective farming, and that will be all she wrote as far as benefits for the peasants from the Chavez ‘revolution’. They’ll join the oil companies and the newspapers in being shut down and taken over by the state.

    Dave

  • Maurice

    A better perspective of poor vs. wealthy is provided by Walter E. Williams in his latest column which can be found at Creators.com. Just click the opinion column button.

    It is too bad Walter E. Williams doesn’t get as much press as HB.

  • Bing

    Day, day-ay-ay-o
    Belafonte’s a crazy mofo.

    How can anyon take this guy seriously?

  • http://www.diablog.us Dave Nalle

    Walter E. Williams says things which make sense and he’s not a celebrity. Belafonte says crazy stuff and he’s a celebrity. Who are you likely to sell more papers by covering?

    Dave

  • http://jeliel3.blogspot.com JELIEL³

    Oh Maurice perhaps you are just habituated or refuse to see it. But there is abject poverty in the US. Where people live in shacks with no water or electricity, these people are often illiterates and are of course in an unacceptable majority black people living in the outskirts away from the eyes of the suburbanites and the wealthy. And they are not minor occurrences; they are all over the place.

  • Dave Nalle

    Actually, Jeliel. The single largest ethnic group receiving welfare in the US are whites, not blacks. And although there are some truly poor people in the US, the number is small and most of them live in a culture of poverty which it is very hard to get them out of. You really ought to read that Walter Williams article. It offers some truly eye-opening statistics on poverty. Very heartening, though I doubt you’re interested in good news about the poor.

    Dave

  • sr

    Dave, Thanks for a great opinion. How refeshing. You and Maurice speak Dr. Walter Williams. Went to see Belafonte in concert many years ago at the Greek Theater. How sad and misdirected he has become. Bing #4 said it all. Day,day-ay-ay-o. Slipped on the banana boat me want to go home. Make me the millions in the USA. Day, day-ay-ay-o. Now me a has-been, kiss Chaves’s ass, me want to go home. Harry you were great once. Have a banana split, drink some rum, go to bed and stay their. sr

  • http://jeliel3.blogspot.com JELIEL³

    #7
    Dave Nalle

    One does not have to have welfare to be poor. And it’s not suprising that more whites than blacks get welfare. Even at the bottom, whitey still gets better treatment than blacks.

    And Walter Williams, AFAIK is a conservative meritocrat, hence not a statistical reference point on poverty IMHO.

  • http://www.diablog.us Dave Nalle

    At the risk of seeming entirely chimerical, I have to point out that Belafonte is a relic of another era, of a time when socialism and communism had not been as thoroughly discredited as they are today. Living in the hollywood community he’s remained among others who hold those antiquated beliefs, so no one has ever point out to him that in the face of reality the political philosophy he subscribes to invariably fails. He sees Chavez as a vindication of his beliefs and a glorious vindication of his hopes for the future. I’m sure he’s dismayed by the fall of the Soviet Union and Castro’s inability to spread communism in this hemisphere, and now he sees Chavez as picking up Castro’s torch.

    In many ways he’s a victim of the ideology that shapes his thoughts. He’s a dupe and deluded, but to his credit he’s probably well meaning. If he were younger or from a different background his behavior and beliefs would be inexcusable, though.

    Dave

  • http://belafonte larry larry

    i am enjoying this blog blog. i dont know what harry is is doing down there.
    he never was a big civil
    rights leader. i guess
    he knew where his bananas
    came from.
    (chimerical) i will make
    that my new word for today l lol larry that

  • Maurice

    Dave,

    thanks for reading the Walter E. Williams article. At the risk of blasphemy I consider Dr. Williams the black mans Milton Friedman.

    JELIEL,

    you make some pretty cutting remarks against black people. As a black man I am used to your style of condescension. Unfortunately your stereotyping is true in my case. Most of my cousins and some of my uncles are in jail. My parents were on and off welfare many times as I was growing up. I am well aquainted with poverty. I don’t equate my poverty with my skin color. Why do you?

  • http://www.diablog.us Dave Nalle

    I find Walter Williams writing a bit stilted, but he makes some awfully good points. Now that I know where to find it – thanks to you – I plan to read it weekly.

    I do hope Jeliel answers your question. I’ve got some great statistics to add to Dr. Williams stats. Were you aware that african americans are moving out of the lowest income bracket at double the rate of whites and one and a half times as fast as hispanics? The only group that leaves poverty faster is Asians and that’s by a fraction of a percentage point. The same pattern of upward mobility is evident for blacks throughout the economy, and IMO they are doing it for themselves, clearly not through any kind of government assistance.

    Dave

  • Maurice

    Dr. Williams might be a little stilted but I never have to look up the words he uses.

    Chimerical is my word for the day.

    BC contains a phantasmagoria of charactors.

  • http://jeliel3.blogspot.com JELIEL³

    #12
    Maurice

    You completely misread my argument and I had no idea you are black (not that it would have changed my argument). I was more into criticizing white people for being blind to certain facts. Most whites see blacks as second class if not worse. My remarks should be “cutting” like you say about white people.

    I don’t equate wealth with skin color but the fact is that white people get it so much easier in life than non-whites. Even I as a white man notice it. And then my friend, who’s Haitian can’t win on either side. She comes from a wealthy family (Her father is a well known cardiologist) and she’s a lawyer (and two masters on the side). She can’t get respect from blacks because she’s considered a sell-out (sold out to whites for being educated she tells me) and she can’t get respect from whites because she’s black. We’re not even gonna get into the fact she’s a woman on top of that. Basically she’s fucked (Pardon my french)

    I work in a very corporate world and I see it all the time. When a black guy walks around at one of our client’s place of business, everybody tenses up and they make this face that says “What’s he doing here?” like he doesn’t belong, like he should be wearing a FedEx cap instead of a suit and tie. And this is what gets me upset. There used to be a time, when being French in Canada was just as bad as being black in the US. And I’m old enough to remember when we were called the White Niggers of America being told to “speak white” when we were harassed for speaking in French in public (and that’s just the small stuff). So I know bigotry first hand.

    I’m the first to say that what ever works against you, shouldn’t even bother you in your efforts to achieve your goals. But when I see HR people throwing away a résumé because the HR person can’t pronounce the name of the candidate or can tell the color of the person just by the name. I get upset. Especially since there were about 25 other résumé with foreign names on it in the basket. So that’s a lot of crap working against non-whites. I don’t equate poverty with skin color, but the world out-there isn’t helping matters at all. And I’ll never back down from pointing it out.

    #13
    Dave Nalle

    Perhaps things are changing (perhaps it’s not too late) but the shift is far from complete. It’s easy to interpret numbers also. Why would there be more blacks shifting from poverty to wealth than white? Maybe perhaps because there’s more blacks to begin with that are poor than whites. Unless the stats are “pro-rata” of course. Conservatives are well known for crunching numbers so that they look good. My father used to call that “mathturbation”

  • Lumpen Prole

    Did you not see Mr. Nalle’s earlier factoid about poverty? I have read the same statistic. Whites are the largest ethnic group on welfare and there is even a slightly hgher percentage of whites than blacks on welfare and aparently the gap is growing.

  • http://jeliel3.blogspot.com JELIEL³

    #16
    Lumpen Prole

    Not everyone that’s poor get welfare. Some feed families on 3 minimum wage jobs. Some are so far off the grid that they don’t get anything. They are still dirt poor, welfare or not. And Like I said in another argument in this thread, factoids are easily manipulated. I don’t take what people say are facts as the given truth but I don’t discount them either.

  • http://www.chancelucky.blogspot.com chancelucky

    dumb question about Walter Williams Poverty hype article. He was really just citing someone else’s research, but he based it on movement from one quintile to the next. If the effect of income concentration is extreme, then a movement into a higher quintile doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re not poor anymore, it might mean that there are simply twice as many poor people.

    I did note that he failed to mention where the poverty line was. For argument’s sake, it could be well into the third quintile twenty years later and the bottom could be made up of a new group of poor who are even worse off.

    This is a little ridiculous, but imagine if the entire population of Somalia were transported to the United States. Those individuals would now be in the bottom quintile (most likely) and those who were in the bottom quintile would find themselves moving upwards ordinally without actually improving their living standard.

    I suspect they are, in reality, better off, but not a lot was said about how much these individuals were earning in inflation adjusted dollars.

    fwiw, people who work more do likely earn more. Williams didn’t answer the question of whether or not the opportunities to work more actually expanded beyond simply suggesting that people move to Austin and get into the typeface business.

  • Dave Nalle

    dumb question about Walter Williams Poverty hype article. He was really just citing someone else’s research, but he based it on movement from one quintile to the next. If the effect of income concentration is extreme, then a movement into a higher quintile doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re not poor anymore, it might mean that there are simply twice as many poor people.

    Mathematically correct, but we have no reason to believe that our body of poor people is expanding. If that were the case then indicators like unemployment and welfare claims would be going up and they’re not.

    I did note that he failed to mention where the poverty line was. For argument’s sake, it could be well into the third quintile twenty years later and the bottom could be made up of a new group of poor who are even worse off.

    I assume that he’s using the standard HHS poverty levels which are generally accepted by everyone. And again there’s no indication that our poor today are any poorer than the poor of 30 years ago, in fact with the poverty cut off and the cut off for various benefits actually increasing faster than the rate of inflation the poor today are considerably better off than they were 30 years ago.

    This is a little ridiculous, but imagine if the entire population of Somalia were transported to the United States. Those individuals would now be in the bottom quintile (most likely) and those who were in the bottom quintile would find themselves moving upwards ordinally without actually improving their living standard.

    They would move upwards as a population group, but their income wouldn’t actually increase. They’d still be under the poverty line. But there’s nothing like that actually happening here in the US. Remember, illegal immigrants who make up that influx of new poor aren’t counted as part of the population in determining the quintiles.

    I suspect they are, in reality, better off, but not a lot was said about how much these individuals were earning in inflation adjusted dollars.

    Our poor are enormously better off than even middle class people in 90% of the countries of the world, at least as far as material possessions and opportunity to advance themselves.

    fwiw, people who work more do likely earn more. Williams didn’t answer the question of whether or not the opportunities to work more actually expanded beyond simply suggesting that people move to Austin and get into the typeface business.

    LOL. Getting into the typeface business isn’t a way to get out of poverty fast. It took me more than a decade to build the business up to the point where I could quit my day job. Moving to Austin or an equivalent place on the other hand IS the answer for a lot of people. If you stay in downtown Detroit you stay poor and unemployed. Take the same minimal skills and move to Austin or Phoenix or Atlanta and you’ll have a job and an apartment and cable and be able to buy a car within a matter of weeks.

    Dave

  • valery

    Face it Nalle, the US creates and supports banana republics. Venezuela isn’t one of them. Hence your animosity.

  • Dave Nalle

    Well, I guess I’d prefer a pro-US banana republic to one that’s anti-US. Not sure why that’s a problem, really. As an American I generally like countries which like us better than ones which hate us. And as a libertarian I like countries which allow their people basic rights to ones like Venezuela which don’t.

    Seems only sensible.

    Dave

  • Maurice

    Dave Nalle says,

    “Our poor are enormously better off than even middle class people in 90% of the countries of the world, at least as far as material possessions and opportunity to advance themselves.”

    Which is what I was trying to get across in my original post. My occupation has required me to travel to Europe and Asia. Once in Hong Kong I invited some of my co workers (all from HK) to come to my room for a drink. They walked around my crappy little Ramada room and asked, “All this just for you?”. Most of them slept in their office at the plant because it was air conditioned.

    JELIEL

    I find your comments odd and personally offensive. I have lived in Detroit, Dallas, Denver, Phoenix, and Boise. My skin color has never been an issue as far as employment. I am in the high tech industry so everyone I work with is Indian or Asian. They all have bizzare names. I have a hard time imagining a HR group that would pass on a good candidate because they had a funny name.

    Perhaps your view is more to do with living in Canada than what current attitudes are in the US.

  • Valery

    Wake up Nalle, there are no pro-US banana rebublics. The common people despise Americans and I doubt that the US installed puppet governments care much for them either.

    You’ve got your shorts in a twist because the people of Venezuela reject US interference.

    Get over it.

  • http://www.diablog.us Dave Nalle

    No, I have my shorts in a twist because the government of Venezuela shut down the newspapers, seized the land of private landowners and nationalized all the industries, guaranteeing economic collapse in less than a decade. Nothing I hate more than a leader who uses appeals to the people to screw them over in the service of an idiotic ideology.

    As for pro-US banana republics, may I introduce you to Belize, Costa Rica and most of the Carribean islands?

    Dave

  • JR

    Hasn’t France nationalized and re-privatized its industries, maybe more than once, since WWII? I’m pretty sure Renault went through the cycle and they make better cars than American companies.

    Which is to say, I think reports of Venezuala’s impending economic demise are premature. Chavez is surely playing the demogogue, and he’s made some disturbing moves, but he’s nowhere near as scary as Putin.

  • Valery

    So you’d rather see a US backed puppet regime control the media, kick the peasants off their plots of land, and have all the natural resources and industries privatized for the benefit of US investors.

    Sure Dave, the common people of Belize, Costa Rica and most of the Carribean Islands just love Americans…. tourists, that is. No, on second thoughts, American tourist’s dollars.

    Say hello to Panama, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua and Guatemala.

  • http://www.chancelucky.blogspot.com chancelucky

    Dave Nalle wrote: “Nothing I hate more than a leader who uses appeals to the people to screw them over in the service of an idiotic ideology”

    Sounds like my reasons for opposing the war in Iraq.

  • http://jeliel3.blogspot.com JELIEL³

    #22
    Maurice
    JELIEL

    I find your comments odd and personally offensive. I have lived in Detroit, Dallas, Denver, Phoenix, and Boise. My skin color has never been an issue as far as employment. I am in the high tech industry so everyone I work with is Indian or Asian. They all have bizzare names. I have a hard time imagining a HR group that would pass on a good candidate because they had a funny name.

    Perhaps your view is more to do with living in Canada than what current attitudes are in the US.

    You should find what I witness offensive, not what I say. But that is your right. How can you know that your skin color was never an issue? It’s not like they would come out and say it but then you said yourself you can’t imagine HR being discriminatory either.

    I’m beginning to wonder what wacked-out bizarro universe I’m in sometimes; where the white guy is arguing with a black guy who denies the existence of racism in the corporate world.

  • Maurice

    JELIEL

    I would be offended if I thought the things you describe were going on behind my back. I don’t think they are. Jayson Blair was probably aware of the fact he did not deserve to be where he was.

    I am an engineer and there really is no way to ‘phone it in’. I have been doing semi-conductor design for 24 years. Every design group I have worked in has been an eclectic mix. Right now we have one token white person in our group. She is my boss and is wicked smart.

    I won’t deny that the things you describe go on. I just don’t think that sort of behavior is ubiquitous.

  • Dave Nalle

    Jeliel, I think it depends very much on the field you’re in. In the high tech field you get younger more educated and more open minded people at all levels, with the result that race isn’t really much of an issue for them – especially considering the broad diversity of races who are involved in tech occupations.

    In a more traditional business I think racism would play a bigger role. If you work at a car dealership, or for a printing company or in a warehouse, where education levels are lower and the work force is less diverse, then I think you’re going to encounter more racism. I’m not saying institutionalized racism even there – the company will be race neutral – but managers and coworkers are more likely to be at least mildly, even unconsciously bigoted.

    Dave

  • http://jeliel3.blogspot.com JELIEL³

    Maurice and Dave

    I work for one of the top 5 IT company in the world. Our company is like you describe, younger and “educated” (educated don’t mean shit when it comes to bigotry in my opinion). But I do consulting for a crap-load of large companies like banks, defense contractors, energy companies, manufacturing, governments and so forth – we got our dirty fingers in everything. And when I wander the halls of these companies and institutions, I hear the nastiest shit coming from these young and educated people. Things like the good old “Goddamn niggers keep taking our jobs” and I sometimes still hear about the giant Jew conspiracy to control the world.

    It may not be ubiquitous, like you said Maurice and I would agree, but just because you haven’t felt it in your life doesn’t mean it isn’t in existence in a large part of North America corporate environment. I know I get a free ticket sometimes because I speak English without giving away that I am French. And when I’m “undercover”, in the sense that I don’t reveal that I’m French, the anglos let it rip on their francophobe comments and then I reveal myself as being French. Oh Fun Times.

  • http://tresbleu.blogspot.com/ Sister Ray

    JELIEL, your experience has certainly been different from mine. I’ve worked in a lot of different kinds of jobs – office, blue-collar and in between – and didn’t at all hear the amount of n-word and Jew-conspiracy stuff you describe.

    I have occasionally heard xenophobic comments at work, and those were usually in the low-wage, low-skilled jobs like fast-food restaurants.

    Just my two cents.

  • The Kid

    JELIEL, seriously, what world do you work in? I work for a very large hi-tech company, and I have never heard any of the things you describe. We have whites, blacks and asians working together and no one seems to give skin color a second thought. The only people who are seen as second class and are shunned are those who show incompetence, laziness, or just general stupidity. Those who work hard and do their job well are universally respected, regardless their ethnicity. Maybe I’m naive, but I have simply never encountered racism in the workplace.

  • Dave Nalle

    Jeliel, when did you get cubed, anyway?

    As for bigotry, I’ve moved in all sorts of strange circles, from hanging out with farmers and blue collar workers to working in a university setting and everything inbetween, including working in IT. Yes, I’ve seen racism of various sorts. I’ve seen people use the ‘N’ word who I were white yet who I would not consider racist in their actions despite their use of the word in private. And I’ve seen whites, blacks, hispanics and asians display the most amazing levels of racism, not only towards other groups but in many cases towards their own race.

    What I generally have not seen is institutionalized racism. In my experience what most people will say in private and how they will act in a group or as representative of an organization are very different. Mr. X may tell a wetback joke in the break room, but when it comes to hiring he will still hire a Mexican American if that person is the best qualified for the job.

    Oh, and as for the Jewish conspiracy stuff, I’ve only encountered that here on the net, and it’s rampant here – and usually characteristic of people on the extreme left, ironically.

    And for the record, almost everyone I’ve met who’s willing to make negative comments about groups of people reserves their worst comments for poor white trash.

    BTW, to display my own bit of prejudice, I used to think that high-caste Hindis were the most racist group people I’d ever encountered, but recent experience has opened my eyes and I now realize that the most racist people on earth are the Serbs. I swear that every Serb I’ve known secretly wishes Hitler were still alive.

    Dave

  • http://jeliel3.blogspot.com JELIEL³

    I thought the cubing was fun, sort of holy trinity thing. I believe God has a Jeliel³ complex ;-)

    And I never implied that only whites were racist. I remember in college there were a lot of blacks. Most from the islands like Haiti and Martinique. And there were some Africans also. The Africans really looked down on the island born blacks, in ways that would make white supremacists glow with pride. That was a real bizarro moment for me when I witnessed that.

    Someone gimme a blue pill please…

  • http://nightdragon.diaryland.com Mark Edward Manning

    Valery: “You’ve got your shorts in a twist because the people of Venezuela reject US interference.”

    Well, Belafonte certainly wasn’t wrong in thinking that there are some fawning admirers of Chavez’ Marxist oligarchy.

    Good stuff, Dave. I concur entirely.

    JELIEL³: “The Africans really looked down on the island born blacks”

    I had an African classmate in college who confided to me one day, “I hate American blacks. They’re no good.” And I also worked with a Jamaican once who slammed all American blacks as “niggers.” This woke me up to the fact that, strange as it is, there is such a thing as black-on-black racism.

  • http://plancksconstant.org/ bernie

    Just FYI, I linked to your article from Lots of water like chocolate

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy

    If one needs to understand the origin of Harry Belafonte’s views, one needs to remember he is from Jamaica, where blacks work long and hard for little money to pick fruit for rich American and European housewives to peal as they snap their fingers to his music about banana pickers.

    His views about Amnerica are typical for anyone disgusted with American imperialism and interference in the internal affairs of his native land….

    America is like a big red (white and blue) dog. When it takes a shit, you can smell it the world over.

    But you have to live OUTSIDE of the United States to comprehend that.

  • w

    Commie!

  • Bliffle

    Harry Belafonte? Isn’t that the cafe folk-singer? You know, the one whose shirt was always unbuttoned down to the navel (“and he didn’t have one!”, exclaimed Mort Sahl, “the ultimate rejection of mother!”).