Previously known for his crooning of smooth Calypso tunes, these days Harry Belafonte is best known for his liberal activism, as indicated in a Q&A session with the Hollywood Reporter in which he states that if GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney is elected, it would mean “the end of civilization.”
The 85-year-old singer was attending the Locarno Film Festival in Switzerland on Tuesday to receive an award. He used the occasion to blast President Barack Obama for being insufficiently socialist as well as attack black musicians whom he derided for not shoving their political viewpoints on unsuspecting fans.
While at home, some people would want to crucify me because of my political position, I am also being honored for what I do, and that validation is extremely important.
When reporter Alexandra Zawia then asked how the world had changed over the years for activists like him, Belafonte stated that decades ago, “the enemies were very clear, very precise. It is easy to fight oppression if it comes in [the form of] a swastika and a boot, and as a dictator, and you can see it and feel it and touch it.”
Where it becomes the most insidious is when it buries itself, and you can no longer touch it but can taste that, yet it is there, fully blown, doing insane mischief.
“That is why I think the period now is the most challenging I’ve ever lived in,” he added. “What we did during the [President George W.] Bush period, what we still continue to do, even with Barack Obama, is the consistency of not changing the paradigm, of not changing the view.
“We still have laws that encourage torture, we did not change Guantanamo [Bay prison in Cuba], we have laws that allow the police to arrest you at any time, not having to tell you why, and take you wherever they want,” he noted. “This kind of capitalism is taking us to the doorstep of [a] Fourth Reich, I think.”
However, Belafonte had no problem identifying at least one specific enemy. When asked if he'd want to see the former Massachusetts governor elected to the White House, the activist replied: “Only if I would like to see the end of civilization. No, absolutely not. Mitt Romney is not my cup of tea at all.”
In a bizarre follow-up question, the singer/actor was again asked if he could “pin down what the enemy is nowadays.”
Nevertheless, Belafonte had a ready response: “Unbridled capitalism. The concentration of money in the hands of a very small group is the most dangerous thing that has ever happened to civilization.”
He added: “Thank God for social media, which aids transparency. But even that becomes more and more restricted now, with companies like Facebook buying up all the roots of this technology.”
The final question asked if he was “happy with the image of members of minorities in Hollywood today.”
“Not at all,” Belafonte replied. “They have not told the history of our people, nothing of who we are.”
I think one of the great abuses of this modern time is that we should have had such high-profile artists, powerful celebrities. But they have turned their back on social responsibility. That goes for Jay-Z and Beyonce, for example. Give me Bruce Springsteen, and now you’re talking. I really think he is black.”
No, that is not a misprint. He did actually say he thought that Springsteen, famous for his preachy liberalism is somehow "blacker" than less preachy modern singers who actually are of African descent.