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October 2017

The Harvey Weinstein scandal and the silent left’s stunning hypocrisy

“Who is Harvey Weinstein?” is a perfectly acceptable question in light of a bombshell story The New York Times broke Thursday that reports decades of his alleged serial sexual harassment and settlements with women in Hollywood.
Putting it bluntly, Harvey Weinstein, for a time, was the most powerful producer and studio head in Hollywood. He is almost singlehandedly responsible for the indie-to-mainstream film explosion in the 90’s (backing “Pulp Fiction,” “Good Will Hunting” and “Shakespeare in Love” to name just a few examples). His influence in Hollywood is unparalleled.

But it’s his influence out of Hollywood that has parts of media and the political left flummoxed to the point of silence. Weinstein, fresh off producing a media-hailed documentary titled “The Hunting Ground,” about sexual assault on college campuses, has also taken a leave from his production company, The Weinstein Company. Who would have guessed the only real hunting ground, according to women interviews by the newspaper, was Harvey Weinstein’s casting couch?

Actress and dedicated liberal women’s rights activist Ashley Judd went on record for the New York Times story, which states: ‘Two decades ago, the Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein invited Ashley Judd to the Peninsula Beverly Hills hotel for what the young actress expected to be a business breakfast meeting. Instead, he had her sent up to his room, where he appeared in a bathrobe and asked if he could give her a massage or she could watch him shower, she recalled in an interview.

“ ‘How do I get out of the room as fast as possible without alienating Harvey Weinstein?’ Ms. Judd said she remembers thinking.”

Weinstein has amassed a small army of professional political spin doctors, image consultants and PR wizards to help blunt any damage from the allegations of settled lawsuits involving several actresses. He has even gone so far as threatening legal action against the Times for its report, calling in favors from the highest ranks of Democratic party operatives.

After fundraising almost $650,000 for Barack Obama and a few thousand more for Hillary Clinton, Weinstein was bound to earn some favors, including advice to blame the NRA for his transgressions.

Lawyer Lanny Davis is defending Weinstein, which is great because Davis has experience in defending important people from sexual abuse allegations – most prominently President Clinton in the Monica Lewinsky scandal. Also advising Weinstein is Democratic powerhouse PR firm SKDKnickerbocker Managing Director and former Obama White House Communications Director Anita Dunn.

SKDK ran interference for Planned Parenthood when undercover videos inside the organization hit the media last year. SKDK also ran promotions for the Women’s March against Donald Trump’s inauguration this past January, where Ashley Judd was a prominent speaker. SKDK insists Weinstein is not a client in any capacity, which is technically true, as Dunn has stated she is advising Weinstein pro-bono. That’s neat.

Another attorney advising Weinstein is Lisa Bloom. If that name sounds familiar it’s because Bloom has made waves recently both organizing the campaign against Bill O’Reilly when he was at Fox News and representing victims against comedian and actor Bill Cosby.

Casting Stones from Casting Couches By Boris Zelkin

The New York Times on Thursday published a withering expose of Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein’s long history of sexual harassment against women. No one in Hollywood is shocked. He’s tried to get out in front of the story by stating, “I appreciate the way I’ve behaved with colleagues in the past has caused a lot of pain, and I sincerely apologize for it.”https://amgreatness.com/2017/10/06/casting-stones-from-casting-couches/

Well there you have it. Done.
Of course he only came forward after hiring a phalanx of attorneys in what I can only imagine was an attempt to stop the story from appearing in the first place. In Weinstein’s bizarre non-apology apology, he blamed the 1960s and ’70s—as if every man who came of age during that time turned out to be a lecher or a rapist.

But don’t worry. Weinstein, a huge supporter of Hillary Clinton’s campaign, was “With Her” and, despite making movie after movie glorifying gun violence, plans to spend the rest of his days going after the real enemy in all this, the NRA. So it’s all good.

Nice one Harvey. And here I thought you might spend the rest of your days learning the difficult and subtle art of how to not use your power to extort young women into having sex with you.
In other entertainment news, brilliant director and fugitive rapist Roman Polanski is “over it.” Polanski, a man to whom none other than the conscience of Hollywood, Meryl Streep, gave a standing ovation and who many Hollywood luminaries—including Weinstein himself and the ethically challenged Woody Allen—want “freed,” is “over” the nuisance of being reminded of his rape in 1977 of a 13-year-old girl.

He’s over having plied her with Quaaludes; he’s over having invited her into a bedroom “to take pictures.” And he’s definitely over repeatedly sodomizing her, despite her continued vocal objections.

Ironically, news of Polanski’s ability to move on breaks at the same time as yet another woman—the fourth—steps forward to accuse him of underage rape.
I wonder if Whoopi Goldberg will consider this one rape-rape.

If these weren’t enough, let’s take a moment to reflect on the pharmacological stylings of Bill Cosby or the complicated family life of Woody Allen. Then there’s Jeffrey Jones, the actor who played principal from “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” who, like Weinstein, apparently came of age in the ’60s and ‘70s, which must have been what led him to pay a 14-year-old boy to pose for nude photos. Former child actors complain that the industry is full of pedophilia and child grooming, yet the industry takes no notice. As if to ensure that the trend remains current, Glee Star Mark Salling, who most definitely did not come of age in the 60 and 70’s, recently pleaded guilty to possession of 50,000 images and videos of child pornography—with victims as young as 3 to 5 years old.

But not to worry, as Harvey Weinstein himself proclaimed, “Hollywood has the best Moral Compass.”

And if we need to know anything about the way in which the powerful in the industry view those at the bottom, we need only to look at what George Clooney said of Steven Bannon’s attempt at screenwriting. You don’t have to like Bannon to see very clearly how Clooney views the artists below him who struggle to get their work made: “Steve Bannon is a failed fucking screenwriter,” spat Clooney. “Now, if he’d somehow managed miraculously to get that thing produced, he’d still be in Hollywood, still making movies and licking my ass to get me to do one of his stupid-ass screenplays.”

That’s right. They expect people to “lick their asses.” I’m assuming, of course, that Clooney meant that figuratively, but considering the culture of the industry outlined above, who can really say? Regardless, the powerful in Hollywood relish obsequiousness at every level. They are all too happy to let everyone in their orbit know about the power dynamic between struggling artists who are moved to create and those who have landed at the top. And what’s more is the unspoken understanding, even the expectation, that they might use that power for lecherous ends.

Harvey Weinstein isn’t an aberration, he’s just the most prominent and current example.

I’ve worked in this industry for more than 20 years. This isn’t easy for me to write and I’m pretty sure it won’t help my career. But it must be said. I bristle at the nerve of an industry that tolerates and even praises the likes of Polanski and Weinstein having the temerity to lecture the rest of the country about morality and the meaning of a good life. It’s beyond chutzpah or hypocrisy. It beggars belief.

So when prominent entertainers and Hollywood executives stand there and lecture the rest of the country about any moral issue, it’s good to take a step back and realize who it is doing the talking.

Every time a talk-show host, actor, producer, director, or executive opens his mouth and pontificates on this or that national moral failure, we ought to respond loudly and with one voice:


You stand there and you lecture us about morality? You tell us how to vote? Or who deserves generational and cultural praise? You give standing ovations to admitted rapists, to men that would do harm to children and women—and you would indict the rest of the country as immoral?

Why Georgetown University Students Want More Conservative Professors on Campus The student newspaper’s simple request that the school introduce more diverse thought is one many universities should heed. By Mark Judge —

Editor’s Note: This piece originally appeared at Acculturated and is reprinted here with permission.

In a recent editorial in the Hoya, the official student newspaper of Georgetown University, students called for more conservative professors on campus.

The editorial is a refreshingly reasonable voice in the ongoing culture and free speech wars that are roiling America’s college campuses. The editors of the Hoya do not demand that a circus act like Milo Yiannopolous be allowed to come and disrupt the campus, or that the left continue its dominance of the country’s universities.

Instead, they make a straightforward case that the dearth of conservative professors at Georgetown is leaving students unprepared for the genuine diversity – that is, the diversity of thought – that is part of the real world. Georgetown’s homogeneity, they argue, is leading to an atrophying of their skills for debate and reasoned argument. In other words, without conservatives, they have no one to test their ideas against.

“One of the hallmarks of higher education is the opportunity to understand and grapple with a wide range of ideas,” the editorial notes. It goes on:

Yet, Georgetown falls short on its commitment to this ideological diversity in the makeup of its instructional corps. The university must work to remedy its lack of politically conservative professors by considering a diversity of viewpoints when hiring instructors, from assistant professors to those with tenure, and by ensuring that no bias exists against conservative educators in the hiring process.

The editorial cites a 2016 article in the Wall Street Journal by John Hasnas, who wrote that Georgetown faculty search committees often blackball conservative candidates. The Hoya editors also cite the Higher Education Research Institute, whose research has shown what even the Washington Post called “a dramatic shift” in recent years toward hiring faculty that leans left. In 1990, 42 percent of college professors identified as liberal or far-left, according to the HERI survey data; by 2014, that figure had risen to nearly 60 percent, while only 12 percent of professors identified as conservative.

Pop Goes the Liberal Media Bubble Trump drives the mainstream press to abandon the pretense of objectivity. By Matthew Continetti

For years, reporters were content to obscure their ideological dogmas and partisan goals behind the pretense of objectivity and detachment. Though the Washington Post, New York Times, and CNN practiced combat journalism against conservatives and Republicans, they did so while aspiring to professional standards of facticity and fairness, and applying, every now and then, scrutiny to liberals and Democrats worthy of investigation.

Donald Trump changed that, of course. He is so unusual a figure, and his behavior so outlandish, that his rise precipitated a crisis in a profession already decimated by the collapse of print circulation and advertising dollars. The forces that brought Trump to power are alien to the experience of the men and women who populate newsrooms, his supporters unlike their colleagues, friends, and neighbors, his agenda anathema to the catechism of social liberalism, his career and business empire complex and murky and sensational. Little surprise that journalists reacted to his election with a combination of panic, fear, disgust, fascination, exhilaration, and the self-affirming belief that they remain the last line of defense against an emerging American autocracy. Who has time for dispassionate analysis, for methodical research and reporting, when the president’s very being is an assault on one’s conception of self, when nothing less than the future of the country is at stake? Especially when the depletion of veteran editors, the relative youth and inexperience of political and congressional reporters, and the proliferation of social media, with its hot takes and quips, its groupthink and instant gratification, makes the transition from inquiry to indignation all too easy.

There is still excellent journalism. I would point, for starters, to the work on charter flights that led to the resignation of Tom Price. But the overall tone of coverage of this president and his administration is somewhere between the hysterical and the lunatic. Journalists are trapped in a condition of perpetual outrage, seizing on every rumor of discontent and disagreement, reflexively denouncing Trump’s every utterance and action, unable to distinguish between genuinely unusual behavior (the firing of Comey, the tenure of Anthony Scaramucci, the “fine people on both sides” quip after Charlottesville) and the elements of Trump’s personality and program that voters have already, so to speak, “priced in.” Supposedly authoritative news organizations have in one case taken up bizarre mottoes, like “Democracy Dies in Darkness,” and in another acted passive-aggressively by filing Trump stories under “entertainment,” only to re-categorize the material as news with the disclaimer (since dropped) that Trump is “a serial liar, rampant xenophobe, racist, misogynist, and birther.” The mode of knee-jerk disgust not only prevents the mainstream media from distinguishing between the genuinely interesting stories and the false, partisan, and hackwork ones. It also has had the effect of further marginalizing print and broadcast journalists from middle America.

The other day, for example, Bob Schieffer observed on Face the Nation that one in five journalists live in New York, D.C., or Los Angeles. The news is manufactured by residents of the liberal bubble, where conservatives are few and far between (and certainly do not sound like Sarah Palin), jobs are plenty, education is high, and the benefits of globalization manifest in cheap prices, exotic restaurants, and a reserve labor force of cleaners, contractors, and home-care specialists. Can’t say I was shocked when Schieffer’s finding passed barely noticed, the consciences of the press untroubled by the fact that their experiences and backgrounds are so unlike the majority of the public whose interest they presume to uphold.

Collusion and the Trump Dossier If the Trump dossier is a tissue of lies, why are the Justice Department and FBI, now controlled by Trump appointees, concealing information about it? By Andrew C. McCarthy

It is an article of faith among the president’s most ardent supporters: The Trump dossier is a completely discredited piece of garbage. Hence, its relevance is limited to one matter and one matter alone: The dossier’s suspected use by the Obama administration (specifically, the Justice Department and the FBI) as a pretext to spy on the opposition party’s presidential campaign — a ruse that included cribbing the dossier’s sensational allegations in secret court applications for wiretap warrants.

It appears that this Trumpist tenet is going to be tested. The dossier that did so much to fuel the collusion controversy is assuming center stage once more.

The dispute over the 2016 election has stalemated. The Trump-deranged are convinced that the president is a Putin puppet; Trump boosters are just as certain that “collusion” is a fictional narrative dreamt up to delegitimize their man and explain away Hillary Clinton’s defeat. For a long time, I’ve thought the latter camp had the better argument. President Trump and the FBI director he fired, James Comey, may not agree on much, but they both say Comey provided repeated assurances that Trump was not a suspect in the FBI’s probe of Russia’s 2016 campaign meddling. It makes no sense that Comey would do that if there had been solid evidence of collusion between Trump and Putin.

That still seems incontestable. But neither do I believe Director Comey would have countenanced an investigation based on nothing — a “collusion” investigation conducted solely to camouflage political spying. Something is not right here. If we’re ever going to figure it out, the dossier is the roadmap.

So, is the article of faith true? If the Trump dossier is just a tissue of lies, why are the Justice Department and FBI, now controlled by Trump appointees, concealing information about it rather than anxiously volunteering disclosure?

If I had to bet on it, I’d wager that the dossier is like many reports compiled by investigative bodies whose motives are dubious and whose sources are of varying levels of credibility — similar to what you get after investigations by politicized congressional committees, law-enforcement agents who are less than first-rate, or private detectives who, lacking subpoena power, often rely on multiple hearsay. That is, I think the dossier will turn out to be a mixed bag of the true, the false, and the shades of gray in between.

Questions about the dossier are pressing for two reasons.

First, it was leaked this week that investigators working with Special Counsel Robert Mueller have interviewed Christopher Steele. He is the former British spy who composed the so-called dossier during and after the 2016 campaign. At the time, Steele was a private contractor conducting political opposition research on behalf of Trump’s adversaries. The dossier, formatted to resemble official spy-agency intelligence reports, is a set of investigative summaries, based on Steele’s interviews with sources.

We don’t know the whole story at this point, but claims from Trump supporters that the dossier is a Clinton campaign project are overstated. Steele runs a private intelligence firm in London (Orbis Business Intelligence, Ltd.) and was retained to dig up dirt on Trump by the Washington-based opposition-research firm, Fusion GPS. Fusion does a lot of work for the political Left, but it was originally hired by anti-Trump Republicans, not the Clinton campaign. Only later, when it was apparent that Trump would win the nomination, was the project handed off to Clinton backers.

Sweden: Land of Double Standards by Judith Bergman

Both books are aimed at 3-6 year-olds. The first book is about “Asli, who has never been to Somalia, but now she is going there with her father to meet her four grandmothers”. Swedish children, evidently, are supposed to learn that the Islamic practice of polygamy — illegal in Sweden — is completely normal.

Swedish libraries are evidently not concerned that books normalizing the misogynist practices of Islamic polygamy and covering women from top to toe, aimed at Swedish toddlers and children, might also be considered “offensive”, not to mention criminal.

How curious, then, that the Swedish government laments Nazi marches in the streets of Gothenburg, yet is happy to spend large sums of Swedish tax payer money on those who agree with the Nazis on the streets of the Middle East.

The country that censors “offensive” words from children’s books — Swedish publishers and libraries have censored, among others, the classic Astrid Lindgren books about Pippi Longstocking — has apparently found politically correct replacements.

Farfar har fyra fruar (“Grandad Has Four Wives”) and Mormor är inget spöke (“Grandma Is Not a Ghost”), two books written by the Swedish author Oscar Trimbel, were featured at the book fair in Gothenburg recently. Both books are aimed at 3-6 year-olds. The first book is about “Asli, who has never been to Somalia, but now she is going there with her father to meet her four grandmothers”. Swedish children, evidently, are supposed to learn that the Islamic practice of polygamy — illegal in Sweden — is completely normal.

The second book, “Grandma Is Not a Ghost”, which features a drawing of a grandmother in a full-length jilbab on the cover, tells the story of “Omar, who meets his grandmother from Somalia. Omar wants to dress up as a ghost for Halloween and he wants his grandma to come along so that it will be spooky”. Apparently, Swedish children are supposed to learn that the jilbab, which covers a woman from head to toe, leaving only the face visible, is not a frightening ghost costume, but completely commonplace dress for women to wear.

Swedish libraries are evidently not concerned that books normalizing the misogynist practices of Islamic polygamy and covering women from top to toe, aimed at Swedish toddlers and children, might also be considered “offensive’, not to mention criminal. On the contrary: Stockholm Library had already ordered “Grandad Has Four Wives”.

After two Swedish news outlets wrote about the books, however, the author, Oscar Trimbel, announced that he will be taking “Grandad Has Four Wives” off the market. He gave no reason for his decision.

The Zionists are Coming! Panic at San Francisco State U. By Cinnamon Stillwell

In the fevered imagination of the academic left, these are dark days at San Francisco State University (SFSU). Speakers at a two-day conference, “Rights and Wrongs: A Constitution and Citizenship Day Conference at San Francisco State University,” described a campus where a “corporatist” administration is at war with its faculty; Arab-American professors are afraid to walk alone on campus; ethnic student organizations are consigned to the dank student center basement; “Zionists” lie in wait to pounce on innocent, beleaguered proponents of “Palestine”; and “white supremacy” rules. All at one of the most radical universities in the nation.

Leading these lamentations was the director of SFSU’s Arab and Muslim Ethnicities and Diasporas Initiative (AMED), Rabab Abdulhadi, whose anti-Israel activism is coming back to haunt her. In addition to being named in a Lawfare Project (L.P.) lawsuit against SFSU alleging “anti-Semitism and overt discrimination against Jewish students,” she is at the heart of a Middle East Forum and Campus Watch campaign to end the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) she brokered between SFSU and An-Najah University, a hotbed of anti-Semitism and radicalism in the West Bank.

The conference was held on the top floor of the bustling Cesar Chávez Student Center – adorned with murals of Malcolm X and Edward Said – in spacious, light-filled Jack Adams Hall. A bulletin board near the entrance displayed a flyer calling for the removal of San Francisco’s Pioneer Monument, which it dubbed a “monument to white supremacy!” Conference programs featured a graphic of President Donald Trump’s silhouette balanced with a white fist on a scale of justice.

The audience of mostly students and small clusters of faculty ranged from a sparse fifty to sixty for the panel “Academic Freedom for Whom? Islamophobia, Palestine, and Campus Politics” to around 250 – many sitting on the floor after the seats quickly filled up – for “Muslims, Mexicans, and the Politics of Exclusion.”

Abdulhadi chaired both panels, while Hatem Bazian, director of U.C. Berkeley’s Islamophobia Research & Documentation Project, participated in the second. Both, she noted, hail from Nablus in the West Bank. The co-panelists were graduate student instructors (one nicknamed “Che”), local leftist activists, and “veterans” of SFSU’s 1968 Third World Liberation Front strike.

Abdulhadi – who assured the audience she is a woman, lest anyone fear that a man heads AMED – was persistently on the defensive. Harried and angry, her rapid-fire speech rendered many words unintelligible. She complained about Campus Watch tweets “attacking her” and marveled at the “four articles” (two pieces, in fact) about the MOU-facilitated “Prisoner, Labor, and Academic Delegation,” which sent Americans who served prison time for Weather Underground-affiliated domestic terrorism to meet fellow self-described “political prisoners” at Najah.

She blamed these concerns – and the well documented history of terrorism and anti-Semitism at Najah – on her opponents’ “muddying the waters” with spurious claims of anti-Semitism and falsely conflating Arabs and Muslims with terrorism. In Abdulhadi’s world, evidently, Palestinian terrorism and the cultural indoctrination underpinning it simply do not exist.

The bulk of her ire was directed at SFSU’s administration and her onetime ally, President Leslie Wong, with whom she had collaborated to create the MOU. She noted repeatedly that she had left a superior position as director of the Center for Arab American Studies at the University of Michigan, Dearborn at SFSU’s invitation, only to find herself relegated to a “token,” subjected to “new McCarthyism,” with AMED starved of funds and slated for termination.

Abdulhadi blamed Wong’s supposed abandonment of her on “Zionist pressure,” while accusing the administration of “Islamophobia”; “anti-Palestinian racism”; and the bigotry du jour, “white supremacy.” She and her supporters fault Wong for not reacting quickly or stridently enough to the ongoing David Horowitz Freedom Center poster campaign at SFSU, U.C. Berkeley, and elsewhere, despite evidence to the contrary. As with the grievances she reportedly filed earlier this year against the university “for the hostile and unsafe work and study environment for Palestinians, Muslims and Arabs on campus,” there is little proof to back up her assertions.

Paranoia may better explain her worries, for she then declared, “I do not walk by myself on campus anymore. I am actually very afraid for my life.” Because, you see, “the very people who are intimidating and harassing us, including people who have served in the Israeli military – and I grew up under Israeli occupation – are walking around on campus.” Who knew that IDF soldiers are menacing SFSU’s faculty?!

Reassessing Orwell to Understand Our Times By Scott S. Powell

Just two or three generations ago, most Americans understood that George Orwell’s classics Animal Farm and 1984 were written to explain how freedom is lost to totalitarianism and the intolerance that accompanies it. “Big Brother,” a term still casually used to describe an all-knowing governing authority, comes right out of 1984. In the state that Orwell describes, all subjects are continually reminded that “Big Brother is watching you,” by way of constant surveillance through the pervasive use of “telescreens” by the ruling class.

Orwell’s warnings about totalitarianism written in novel form in Animal Farm and 1984 came shortly after Freidrich Hayek’s Road to Serfdom was published at the end of World War II. But it took the shocking revelations from books on Nazism and Soviet Communism, by scholars like William Shirer and Robert Conquest in the 1960s, to really make Orwell relevant for teaching to the masses educated in American public schools. And it was not just an academic exercise insofar as Stalin’s successors Leonid Brezhnev and Alexei Kosygin were at that time rolling tanks into Czechoslovakia to crush all resistance — enforcing the “Iron Curtain” over eight countries in Eastern Europe — the Soviet model of totalitarian control and subservience to Moscow.

Reading Orwell, it was thought, would help American students appreciate their freedoms and gain perspective and critical faculties so as to understand socialist totalitarianism and its defining features: 1) the institutionalization of propaganda designed to warp and destroy people’s grasp on reality, and 2) the fostering of group think, conformity and collectivism designed to eliminate critical and independent thinking.

Orwell described the scope of the totalitarian enterprise, noting in one section of 1984 that “Every record has been destroyed or falsified, every book rewritten, every picture has been repainted, every statue and street building has been renamed, and every date has been altered. And the process is continuing day by day and minute by minute. History has stopped. Nothing exists except an endless present in which the Party is always right.”

In 1984, Orwell said, “Who controls the past controls the future.” Orwell’s coining of the concepts and terms of “newspeak, doublethink and thought police” are what we now experience as political correctness. Newspeak is the distorted reality accomplished by manipulating the meaning of language and words, while doublethink is the conditioned mental attitude to ignore reality and common sense and substitute and embrace a distorted or false narrative. The analogs of “thought police” in 1984 are now the enforcers of political correctness seen in the mainstream media and college campuses across the country.

As Orwell notes, “the whole aim of newspeak and doublethink is to narrow the range of thought.” Political correctness has the same goal and that’s why its adherents are so intolerant — seeking to shut down and silence people with whom they disagree on college campuses, clamoring for removal of historic statues and monuments so they can rewrite history and control the future, and demanding that people with opposing views on such subjects as climate change and gay marriage be silenced, fined or arrested.

Many assume that because the press is not state-controlled in the U.S. there is a long way to go before the American government has the power of Orwell’s Big Brother.

Weinstein’s Progressive Absolution The Hollywood boss has a defense against sexual harassment claims.

We’ve heard of 12-step programs to cure addiction, but the Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein is counting on a remarkable one-step plan to gain absolution for what is reported to be decades of harassing young women in his employ—his progressive politics.

Mr. Weinstein’s astonishing response to a long report in the New York Times includes an apology for having “caused a lot of pain,” without admitting or denying any specific transgression. There’s also some psycho-babble about his “demons,” and he told the New York Post separately that he’s going to sue the Times for defamation. But he saves his main defense, his Johnnie Cochran, for the final paragraph of his statement when he plays the progressive card:

“I am going to need a place to channel that anger so I’ve decided that I’m going to give the NRA my full attention. I hope Wayne LaPierre [the National Rifle Association executive] will enjoy his retirement party. I’m going to do it at the same place I had my Bar Mitzvah. I’m making a movie about our President, perhaps we can make it a joint retirement party. One year ago, I began organizing a $5 million foundation to give scholarships to women directors at USC. While this might seem coincidental, it has been in the works for a year. It will be named after my mom and I won’t disappoint her.”

As long as he declares his opposition to the gun lobby and Donald Trump, he figures he’ll be forgiven for charges of dirty-old-man tricks that would get a CEO of any publicly traded company run out of business. And as long as he writes a big enough check to the cause of gender equity, he assumes everyone will soon forget that he is alleged to have subjected young women who worked for him to a casting couch out of the 1930s.

Harvey didn’t make it in Hollywood without knowing his audience.

Rule by Starvation About 3.9 million people, or 13% of Ukraine’s population, died as Stalin pursued collectivization. Anna Reid reviews ‘Red Famine’ by Anne Applebaum.

In March 1932, Communist Party officials in Ukraine’s Odessa province heard rumors of hunger in outlying villages and sent a medical team to investigate. The doctors found empty cottages, corpses lying in the lanes, and the surviving inhabitants gnawing on carrion, boiled bones and horsehide. Local apparatchiks, the horrified medics reported, were doing their best “not to notice the incidence of starvation, and . . . not to speak about it.”

The dead were early victims of the “Holodomor”—literally translated as “hunger-extermination”—an artificial famine inflicted on the Ukrainian peasantry by Stalin in the years 1932-34. The best estimate of the death toll is 3.9 million, or 13% of Ukraine’s population. Up to an additional 2.5 million died in famines elsewhere in the Soviet Union at the same time.

Denied by the Soviet authorities almost until communism’s fall, the Holodomor was first documented by the British historian Robert Conquest in his ground-breaking 1986 book, “The Harvest of Sorrow.” Compiling census data and émigré memoirs and interviews, he demonstrated both the scale of the famine and the fact that it was not the result of drought or economic upheaval but of food confiscation, deliberately and violently enforced. Since then, a mass of new evidence has become available, on which Anne Applebaum draws—with generous acknowledgments to Ukrainian historians—for “Red Famine,” a lucid, judicious and powerful book.

The Holodomor was created in three overlapping stages. First, in the winter of 1929-30, came “collectivization.” Teams of activists were dispatched to the countryside to persuade peasants to hand over land and livestock to state-controlled farms, where they would work as day laborers for payment in kind. Villagers remembered how out of place the visitors looked, tiptoeing through the mud in polished shoes. One even mistook a calf for a colt, brushing aside correction with the declaration that “the world proletarian revolution won’t suffer because of that.”

Unsurprisingly, the anticipated wave of volunteerism failed to materialize, and the activists fell back on violence and intimidation, supported by local thugs and the police. Primed by years of indoctrination, even the more idealistic participants had no difficulty rationalizing their methods. “I firmly believed,” remembered one, “that the ends justified the means. Our great goal was the universal triumph of Communism, and for the sake of the goal everything was permissible—to lie, to steal, to destroy hundreds of thousands and even millions of people, all those who were hindering our work or could hinder it, everyone who stood in the way. And to hesitate or doubt about all this was to give in to ‘intellectual squeamishness’ and ‘stupid liberalism.’ ”

A few months later, the Kremlin launched a parallel drive to evict and deport “kulaks”—a term that in theory referred to wealthy peasants but in practice meant community leaders and anyone, rich or poor, who resisted collectivization. Targeted were teachers, clerks, store keepers, millers and tanners, as well peasants who owned two cows rather than one or whose huts were roofed with tin rather than thatch. Vicious propaganda, Ms. Applebaum notes, equated peasant farming with treachery and criminality: “Kulak-White-Guard-bandits” were said to be hoarding grain, sabotaging the collectives or plotting with the Poles to overturn the Revolution.

Not everyone submitted quietly. Police files reveal thousands of riots, shootings, raids on food stores and arson attacks on government buildings. One report, covering unrest in 16 Ukrainian districts, records 35 police and activists killed and an additional 314 beaten. Peasants’ most immediate form of protest was to slaughter their animals before they were confiscated. But though widespread, resistance was not organized enough to force the regime to backtrack. Instead, the regime hardened its position, fearing a repeat of the anti-Bolshevik risings of the Civil War. In the Soviet Union as a whole, more than two million peasants were deported between 1930 and 1933, mostly to Central Asia or the far north. Many died during the journey (in closed cattle cars, without food or water) or during their first winter in exile. At least another 100,000 went straight to the Gulag.

On their own, Ms. Applebaum argues, collectivization and “dekulakization” would not have led to outright famine. What tipped Ukraine from hunger into mass death was food requisitioning. Launched in the summer of 1930 in a drive to raise grain exports, it descended over the next two years into a sadistic pogrom, with no economic rationale at all. Tasked with fulfilling impossible quotas, search teams raided homes at night, smashing chests and cupboards and probing cellars and wall spaces with pointed metal rods. Cautiously, Ukrainian Party officials warned Moscow of growing hunger. “We have greatly overdone it,” reported one investigator. Face to face with desperate villagers, he had felt “like a carp squirming on a frying pan.”

But the Kremlin pressed on. In August 1932, food theft was made punishable by death or 10 years’ imprisonment, sweeping thousands more into the Gulag. Requisitioning brigades snatched fruit from trees, seedlings from gardens, soup from cooking pots. They killed dogs and smashed millstones. Children were shot at by mounted guards as they crept into the fields to glean fallen grain.

By New Year’s 1933 there was no food left, and full-scale famine took hold. Firsthand accounts are not as rich as those in Ms. Applebaum’s superb “Gulag: A History” (2003)—peasants were less likely to record their experiences than the middle-class professionals who filled the prison camps. But they are vivid enough: the eating of bark and weeds; children’s bird-like necks and wizened faces; ubiquitous, unremarked corpses; cannibalism. By the time Stalin finally called a halt in 1934, millions lay dead and thousands of villages stood empty.

At the time and for more than 50 years afterward, the Soviet authorities denied that the atrocity had ever happened. Doctors falsified death certificates. Students and soldiers sent to gather what there was of the harvest were told not to speak of what they saw. Not a whisper of it appeared in the press. In the cities—overflowing, despite roadblocks, with emaciated refugees—the dead were buried at night in unmarked mass graves. Notoriously, the Moscow-based Western press corps colluded in the coverup. Ms. Applebaum retells the shameful story of Walter Duranty, the New York Times correspondent who privately acknowledged the famine but publicly denied it so as to stay in with the regime. The American and British governments knew the truth from their embassies but, given trade requirements and Hitler’s rise, preferred to turn a blind eye.

Though far from complete—a few journalists reported honestly at the time, and eyewitnesses washed up in the West at the close of World War II—the coverup worked, in the sense that it sowed doubt. The Holodomor’s sheer wastefulness (why deport your best farmers and kill the rest?) made the Ukrainian diaspora’s claims “seem at least highly exaggerated, even incredible,” Ms. Applebaum writes. The authors of slightly amateurish émigré publications “were easily dismissed as ‘Cold Warriors,’ telling tales.” CONTINUE AT SITE