She used to have a little, now she has a lot — of money for entertaining the leader of the oppressive regime in Turkmenistan. That doesn’t quite have the same ring to it.
Yes, Jennifer Lopez sang happy birthday to Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov, leader of the severely oppressive Turkmen regime.
Look, if you ever doubted the importance of learning history or geography or — Google, this should dispel it.
Those who don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it — or at least to awkwardly confuse John Wayne and John Wayne Gacy in the middle of their presidential campaigns. Those who don’t learn geography are doomed to invade small countries by mistake and stay way too long because, once you’re there, it is awkward to admit that you thought this WAS Libya. Those who learn neither history nor geography wind up reprising Jennifer Lopez’s performance for the president of Turkmenistan, a regime noted for its human rights violations, the cult of personality around its leader and its strict control of the media. Freedom House often lists it as “Worst of the Worst,” citing its lack of representative democracy, reports from Doctors Without Borders that it may be concealing a “dangerous public health situation” and its lack of freedom of religion. The leader reportedly hates dogs and cats and, as The Post’s Max Fisher notes, escalated from ordering the slaying of stray cats and dogs to insisting that people’s pets be put to death. And that’s just scratching the surface.
So, in other words, this is exactly the sort of person whom you want to be serenading on his birthday, at the behest of China National Petroleum Corp.
Now, Huffington Post reports, Lopez has been trying to excuse herself, on the grounds that the location was vetted by her staff, who had never heard of it before and figured it was fine — no, I’m sorry, who say that “had there been knowledge of human rights issues [of] any kind, Jennifer would not have attended.” Had there been any knowledge of any kind, full stop, she also might not have attended. Heck, had there been any Googling involved whatsoever. Probably the guy in charge of vetting it just shrugged and said, “Well, if the plane can find it, we’ll worry about it then. But I don’t think it really exists. On all my elementary school geography tests, I put that Turkmenistan was a place in your heart.”
This is what happens when you combine vast ignorance and vast money. Those two are at the root of pretty much every awkward celebrity performance for hideous dictatorial regimes, on the grounds that their People Who Are Supposed To Know Things were too busy rubbing money all over their torsos to type Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov correctly into Google. Probably the vetting team just assumed that if it could not locate it on a map, there were no human rights violations there. This is not a safe bet — we cannot locate anything on a map.
But Lopez could find her way to the bank.