British athlete James Cracknell was recently caught citing North Korea and Cuba as examples of how to “get a handle on obesity”—which both regimes have done by starving their people.
Cracknell posted a half-hearted apology, and I don’t want to be too hard on him, because in all likelihood he is simply not very bright and just needs to refrain from speaking in public ever again. This is unfortunate for him, since he has ambitions of running for Parliament.
The problem is that Cracknell has clearly been educated and lives in an environment where the reasons for starvation in Communist regimes are considered to be vague and complex and maybe can just be chalked down to “behavior modification.” Cracking jokes about the Holocaust is a line not to be crossed, but insensitive offhand references to brutal communist dictatorships? No big deal.
This sort of thing is not new. As Elizabeth Nolan Brown points out, by way of The Federalist’s Bre Payton, there was once a craze about the “Cuban diet,” telling us how healthy it is to be starved by your government.