During the 1930's, the term "useful idiots" was used to describe Soviet sympathizers in western countries and the attitude of the Soviet government towards them. The implication was that though the person in question naïvely thought themselves an ally of the Soviets or other Communists, they were actually held in contempt by them, and being cynically used. It's now used more broadly to describe someone who is perceived to be manipulated by a political movement, terrorist group, hostile government, business, or union, whether or not the group is Communist in nature.
Though Vladimir Lenin is said to be the origin of "useful idiot", most historians doubt that he ever said it. One can understand why it could be attributed to him, especially when you look at it in a historical sense.
In 1929, Joseph Stalin passed mandates that were designed to cause a famine in the Ukraine to destroy the people there seeking independence from his rule. The result was 7,000,000 people dieing in what was once known as the "Breadbasket of Europe". Can you imagine starving to death because you couldn't eat the very food on the land that you farmed?
These actions were downplayed by a New York times reporter named Walter Durante. Mr. Durante even agreed with Stalins brutal approach to "the ends justify the means", stating "To put it brutally--you can't make an omelet without breaking a few eggs." Walter Durante seemed indifferent when people were sent to Siberian labor camps, exiled, beaten or put to death. In his dispatches from the Moscow, he denied the mass starvation happening in the Ukraine.
"The excellent harvest about to be gathered shows that any report of a famine in Russia is today an exaggeration or malignant propaganda. The food shortage which has affected almost the whole population in the last year, and particularly the grain-producing provinces - that is, the Ukraine, North Caucasus, the Lower Volga region - has however, caused heavy loss of life.
To reap this harvest, aid is being given by the Red Army and voluntary workers. But even if the new crop is not fully reaped there will be more than sufficient to cover the nation's food supply for the coming year and to justify the Kremlin's policy of collectivization.
Although it is pure guesswork to attempt any estimate of the loss of life so far, not so much from manifold diseases due to lowered resistance and to general disease in the last year, certain approximation are now possible." New York Times, 23 August 1933 (source)
In my opinion, I believe Mr. Durante to be the worlds first "Journolist".
Today, we see "useful idiots" in the media again denying their followers the truth. Effectively converting them into a larger mass of "useful idiots". With President Obama's campaign promises being broken, almost on a daily basis, the majority of news outlets either don't report them or gloss them over.
How often did, then candidate, Obama pledge not to raise taxes on anyone making less than $250,000? Now we are hearing of a value added tax, which seems like a tax hike on everyone below $250,000. Has anyone noticed a big to do from the media? How often did you hear, then candidate, Obama was a post racial "promise". Now you hear that anyone criticizing his policies are racists.
The media outlets are covering for a failing president with failing policies. Those that cheered for "Cash for Clunkers" and "stimulus" are now cheering for another stimulus package. Why? The first stimulus didn't work and the aftershock from "Cash for Clunkers" is car sales are down 40% or more.
These same outlets are trying to sell the "public option" health care bill to people who realize that it is a government take over. The "public" educated themselves and is fighting back all the while being called "astro turf", "racists" and "crazy right wing extremists". Wasn't, then candidate, Obama touted as being a "uniter, not a divider"? Apparently, the unity being shown against his policies wasn't the kind of uniting that he had in mind.
The "useful idiots" title can also be given to "environmental WTF?" zealots. If you haven't heard about the latest and greatest threat to the environment, prepare yourselves.
It is Mr Whipple. Don't know him? He used to be in the Charmin commercials. Yes, it's the diabolical toilet paper threating our planet. More specifically, two ply toilet paper. Activists claim that trees must be saved or we will overheat our planet. Even though toilet paper uses roughly 5% of the paper made, this 5% is still disconcerting to a tree hugger.
Another "environmental WTF?" is the situation in California with the water being shut off to farmers in an effort to save smelt minnows. Freaking bait fish take precedence over food production? Something is wrong with this picture. How long before our own water usage is regulated in this fashion?
Let's pause for an interlude:
Imagine you're at work. Its shortly after 1pm and the gut buster burrito that you ate for lunch is trying to make "The Great Escape". WHOOOOSH! Straight to the bathroom you run.
Ah, pleasant relief. That is until you notice the sign where the toilet paper used to be.
"WE APOLOGIZE. IN AN EFFORT TO DO OUR PART TO SAVE THE ENVIRONMENT WE ARE NO LONGER SUPPLYING TOILET PAPER. PLEASE USE THE BIDET"
Its a first, but, OK. You can live with that. Uh Oh!! Another sign?
"WE APOLOGIZE. IN ORDER TO COMPLY WITH GOVERNMENT MANDATES TO CONSERVE OUR NATURAL RESOURCES, WE ONLY HAVE A LIMITED SUPPLY OF WATER. USE ONLY DURING LUNCH"
Looks like you're just Sierra Oscar Lima aintcha? Sacrifice a sock and hope nobody see's you on your way out.
There are many more "useful idiots" taking up causes and "educating" their followers. Have you any examples?