Just as Hollywood’s racist liberals love a Magical Negro, so young socialists love a Magic Grandpa who promises to shake the money tree, annul student debt and hand out free subsidies to the kulaks. Not all socialism is the same, though, and not just because some of it is national socialism.
The Chinese communists under Deng Xiaoping declared ‘socialism with Chinese characteristics’. America’s Magic Grandpa, Bernie Sanders, is a socialist with American characteristics, a millionaire whose life was recently saved by the insertion of an ingeniously capitalist heart stent into his clogged arteries. Being rich, Bernie could, if he needed it, expect to receive a replacement kidney without it first being cut out of a tax defaulter. By contrast, Britain’s clapped-out collectivizer Jeremy Corbyn, derided as ‘Magic Grandpa’, is an ascetic vegetarian whose idea of fun is a vigorous jog, a second serving of nut cutlet and an sneaky side of Jew-baiting.
Which brings us to another difference between Sanders and Corbyn. Bernie is Jewish in that socialist-sentimental way that sees itself as having been spiritually present at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire, in the way that observant Jews see themselves as ‘present at Sinai’. The son of an immigrant from Poland whose family were murdered in the Holocaust, Bernie is conditionally supportive of Israel, and would probably be more enthusiastic if it were governed by the left and more accommodating to the blessed Palestinians.
Jeremy, as you may guessed, is not Jewish. He detests the Zionist entity with a near-Soviet passion, and is visibly aroused when he gets to signal his vices by introducing Islamists like Raed Salah, a publicist for the primitive ‘blood libel’ that Jews bake with Christian blood, into the House of Commons. Despite (or because) of all this, Corbyn is doing well enough in the polls for next week’s general elections to make his leadership of an anti-Brexit coalition a distinct possibility.
The voters are impressively immune to media warnings that a Corbyn-led government would return Britain to its mid-Seventies doldrums, only this time minus the Jews — I mean, Zionists. The voters care more about their mortgages and sticking it to the rich, which in some medieval imaginations includes ‘the Jews’. But inside Britain’s media bubble, anti-Semitism is seen as a career-killer. Hence the spectacle of the New Statesman, the Labour party’s official in-lavatory reading, admitting that Corbyn is ‘unfit to be prime minister’ — partly because of his indulgence of Jew-hatred in the Labour ranks, and partly because he hasn’t been clear enough on Brexit. You get the feeling that if only he’d been clearer on Brexit, and against it, the New Statesman would recommend him.
Bernie Sanders still recommends Corbyn. He calls Corbyn ‘courageous’, admits their ‘similarities’ and is ‘impressed’ by Corbyn’s transformation of Labour into an instrument of class war. ‘What Corbyn has done with the Labour party is not dissimilar to we’re trying to do with the Democratic party,’ Sanders told a British audience in 2017, ‘and that is make it a party which is much more open and inviting for working people and for young people, and not have kind-of what we call a liberal elite making decisions from the top down, but making decisions from the bottom up.’
To be fair to Bernie, and we should be fair to him even if he did honeymoon in the Soviet Union, he prefaced these comments with the admission ‘not being an expert on British politics’. So we’ll give the old ranter the benefit of the doubt: perhaps Bernie doesn’t know how sinister Jeremy Corbyn really is. But there’s no excuse when it comes to Linda Sarsour, the radically socialist, Israel-hating, Farrakhan-loving, Islamist-excusing Jew-baiter that Bernie has nominated as a campaign surrogate.
Last weekend, Sarsour was surrogating Sanders’s campaign as a speaker at the American Muslims for Palestine (AMP) conference. Her remarks sound more like a surrogacy for David Duke or Hamas. Israel, she said, is ‘built on the idea that Jews are supreme to everyone else’ — a libel as equally likely to appear from the mouths of Islamists as the thumbs of white nationalists. It’s impossible, Sarsour said, to oppose ‘white supremacy in America and the idea of being in a state based on race and class’ without also opposing the existence of a Jewish state.
Naturally, this specious and defamatory linkage was affirmed by Rashida Tlaib. Naturally, when footage of Sarsour’s diatribe appeared online, she did her best to wriggle out of it with a statement about ‘context’ — but not one about AMP’s official conference program, which called Zionism a ‘disease’ intending to ‘destroy the purity of al-Quds [Jerusalem]’.
Sanders’s alliance with Sarsour isn’t just Magic Grandpa being sentimental about the kids who remind him of his radical youth. Like Jeremy Corbyn’s passion for Islamists, it’s a calculated attempt to catch votes, transform the party membership and upend the centrist party managers. These tactics worked for Corbyn. But when Magic Grandpa shakes the tree, it’s not just money that falls out.
Corbyn’s idea of socialism with British characteristics has disgraced the Labour party and, by mainstreaming racists in the name of ‘social justice’ and ‘anti-Zionism’, become a global embarrassment to Britain. Labour is now a surrogate for its worst elements. Bernie Sanders is following the same tactics, and his socialism with American characteristics is already producing not dissimilar results: the mainstreaming of ancient hatred, with Bernie as Sarsour’s surrogate. Thanks, Grandpa.
Dominic Green is Life & Arts editor of Spectator USA.