I Was A 'Useful Idiot'|
February 17, 2010
For the first 39 years of my life, I was a walking, talking useful idiot. I believed
without question what I saw on TV, and adopted as fact whatever I saw in the newspaper
Armed with this information, I figured I knew it all. There were no questions I
couldn't answer and no opinions I wouldn't espouse. Especially when they were formed
In my younger days, I still had respect for authority and institutions. I believed
the 'experts.' I took their pronouncements as fact and defended them with
fervor. I never doubted the premises. I truly believed that since everyone else
believed that way, why, that was the correct way to think. If it was on TV or in
the newspapers, it was true. That was the way things were. Absolutely.
I had the certainty of youth. Where all issues are black or white, where people
were good or bad. Where no gray areas intruded to cast doubt on my wisdom. Things
were ever so much clearer then.
Until age 39, I was too busy being the center of my own universe to give deep thought
to any issue that didn't affect me directly. I lived in a magical place where no
analytical thinking was required. I kept abreast of other's opinions and considered
myself not only informed, but pretty darn smart.
Imagine my surprise when reality eventually intruded. When I found out that, gasp,
Che was a mass-murderer, not a freedom fighter. That Kinsey was a sexual pervert
and pedophile, not a scientist. That the earth wasn't melting and that Obama wasn't
the answer to all the world's problems. When I found out that 'is' doesn't necessarily
To my chagrin, I finally realized that no matter how thin the pancake, there are always two sides. And I had only been
exposed to one. I was the quintessential 'useful
The term 'useful idiot' was originally coined by Russian mass-murder Lenin, referring
to blind defenders and apologists for the Soviet Union in the Western democracies.
The most famous of these useful idiots was New York Times Moscow correspondent Walter
Duranty. Duranty got a Pulitzer prize for his [non] reporting on Stalin's man-made
famine in the Soviet Union in the 1930's. Duranty reported to the American people
and the world that things were peachy keen in the Soviet Union, totally ignoring
the fact that Stalin was starving millions of his own people. Stalin eventually
killed more people than Hitler did in the Holocaust.
By proxy, Duranty turned millions of Americans into useful idiots. By reporting
on what people wanted to hear instead of what was actually happening, America's
policies continued to enable Stalin's killing spree.
Fast forward to 2010 and we see history once again repeating itself. Agenda driven,
ideological reporting by the mainstream media is being accepted as fact by millions
of Americans. And the powers that be are counting on increasing numbers of useful
idiots to accept their premises without question. Like lemmings, blindly following
their fellows into the sea.
All I feel now when I think of those days is acute embarrassment. The innocence,
the naivety, the absolute certainty. Those happy days before I realized that I had
been manipulated into accepting and promoting someone else's agenda.
I had been treated as fodder in a war I wasn't even aware was being waged. A war
for the hearts and minds of American citizens. And because I had blindly parroted
and regurgitated every popular consensus without question, I deserved the label
of useful idiot.
Fortunately, this is not a life long condition. I am now a recovering idiot. I keep
my mouth shut unless I am sure of my facts. I rely on common sense instead of the
experts. And if I want to spout opinions, I make sure they are based on my own research
instead of talking heads and soundbites. I also try to keep in mind that there are
always two sides to every issue.
This doesn't make me wise, but at least I am no longer an unwitting pawn in someone
else's agenda. Or a useful idiot.
Nancy Morgan is a columnist and news editor for
She lives in South Carolina
Article may be reprinted, with attribution