On Monday, in the Wall Street Journal’s Political Diary (available by subscription), Mary Anastasia O’Grady wrote about how Oliver Stone’s film South of the Border, “which lauds Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chávez as the nation’s messiah, has flopped spectacularly in, of all places, Venezuela”
To be fair, the film is about more than Mr. Chávez. It also praises the region’s latest crop of left-wing authoritarians, from Bolivia’s Evo Morales, Ecuador’s Rafael Correa, Brazil’s Lula da Silva and Mr. Stone’s favorite Latin bad boy, Fidel Castro. In Mr. Stone’s mind, however, none is more unjustly maligned than Mr. Chávez. The director pulls no punches in his admiration for the Bolivarian bully. “I think he is an extremely dynamic and charismatic figure,” he told the press last year. “He is open and good-hearted, as well as a fascinating personality.”
And this got me wondering why so many liberals in America’s cultural élite, particularly self-described intellectuals. have become so fascinated with despotic rulers like Chávez and Castro. (I doubt their views would change if they talked to some of the refugees from those tyrannical paradises, including a number of gay people of my acquaintance.)
For such cultural élitists, a critique of Western society has become admiration for, if not adoration of, its enemies, no matter how diabolical their ideas or record (in office). These tyrants may preside over systems far worse than those the élite criticize, but so long as they oppose such systems, they are (to the élite at least) by definition, worthy of adulation.
*and other demagogues.