Chavez has the admiration of Sean Penn. David R. Adler is unimpressed by an article Penn wrote after meeting Chavez:
Some have suggested that I tend to overstate the influence of actor-activists like Penn. If anything, I’ve understated it. Penn’s “journalism” is now being published on the cover of The Nation, right at the moment when audiences are swooning over his film portrayal of the late Harvey Milk. The damage he’s doing to the very idea of the left as a principled force for human rights is considerable.
One would never know from Penn’s article that Chávez has summarily ejected Human Rights Watch officials from his country; has proclaimed Belarus under Alexander Lukashenko “a model social state”; has pledged solidarity with Robert Mugabe, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Vladimir Putin. Do not even get me started about Castro, whose decades-long erasure of civil liberties is treated by Penn only in the most evasive, relativizing way. All societies are “imperfect,” he counsels. I can’t imagine a moral stand more limp and spineless.
Because Chávez and Castro are demonized by Fox News and other right-wing forces, Penn has concluded they must in fact be stand-up guys. What an infantile and dishonest view of world politics. What a catastrophe for the left, which has been down this road before.
See also Marc Cooper on Penn’s fawning over Raul Castro.