Jewish World Review March 28, 2001 / 4 Nissan 5761
http://www.jewishworldreview.com -- WHEN thinking of Fidel Castro, words like reconciliation and harmony do not leap to mind. Still, given the left's longstanding infatuation with the jailer of the Cuban people, it's not surprising that a member of Norway's parliament has nominated Castro for the 2001 Nobel Peace Prize.
Hallgeir Langeland of the Socialist Left Party admits Castro isn't exactly Thomas Jefferson. "Even if one can ask oneself about the democratic character of Cuba, the question of democracy is perceived differently in a Third World country," Langeland explains. "What do people prefer? The right to vote or free access to schools, health care, housing and food, as is the case in Cuba?"
Note that apologists for communism never use this argument (a good meal matters more than freedom from being dragged away in the dead of night) to justify right-wing dictatorships. The position also supposes that Cuba is easy street for the proletarian masses.
That aside, when was the last time the aging tyrant played peacemaker?
From Angola to Nicaragua, his troops have tried to prop up Marxist states or spread communism at bayonet point. Castro only sees Cuba's internal opposition when he's watching videos of their torture. Fidel has murdered 75,000 Cubans outright. (The numbers would be higher if 1.5 million hadn't fled the island since 1959.) Per capita, Cuba has one of the highest numbers of political prisoners in the world.
Freedom House consistently rates the regime one of the dozen most repressive. A Jan. 15 press release from Amnesty International began, "Cuba: New wave of political oppression" -- a headline that could be endlessly recycled.
But you don't have to be a left socialist to get warm and fuzzy over Fidel. The Feb. 21 Investor's Business Daily observes the world is beating a path to the door of Castro's dungeon. Recently, a delegation from the influential Council on Foreign Relations, led by capitalist stooge David Rockefeller, visited the dictator. CFR Chairman Peter Peterson gushed that he was "impressed with Cuba's commitment to literacy and health care." Yes, and Mussolini made the trains run on time. Hitler made them run on time to the death camps.
During the Elian Gonzalez affair last year (before the munchkin was repatriated to a re-education camp), America's elite simpered over Fidel and the society he forged.
"There is no question that Castro feels a very deep and abiding connection to those Cubans who are still in Cuba," Dan Rather told CBS viewers on April 22, 2000. Sure he does, much the way the warden of San Quentin has bonded with his prisoners.
"To be a poor child in Cuba may in many instances be better than being a poor child in Miami, and I'm not going to condemn their lifestyle so gratuitously," Newsweek's Eleanor Clift courageously intoned. Would Clift like to second Langeland's nomination?
Very well, let's judge Castro's Cuba by liberalism's materialistic standard.
Monthly rations for ordinary Cubans include six eggs, six pounds of rice, two pounds of soy mixture, 1.5 pounds of lentils and a pint of cooking oil. There's too little meat, fish and bread to even bother rationing them.
Cubans also get a bar of soap every three months, to wash up after their gourmet feasts. The 2-liter monthly allotment of gas is more than adequate, as most Cubans don't have cars.
Some blame the U.S. embargo for the plight of the Cuban people. But Cuban-Americans send $800 million annually to their relatives still in chains -- more than the island could earn trading with America if the embargo wasn't in effect and Cuba had anything to sell us.
The dictator guarantees free education through the doctoral level for qualified Cubans -- and a place on the unemployment line after graduation. As for Cuba's vaunted health care, last September, two Cuban doctors who'd defected while stationed in Zimbabwe testified before Congress that though Castro exports medical supplies, the average Cuban has a hard time getting pain-killers and antibiotics.
The elite's love affair with Castro-land says much about its own totalitarian tendencies. What is a left socialist but a Marxist without a gun?
As long as the regime lasts, left socialists and liberals will continue to worship at Fidel's
feet -- while they're planted firmly on the backs of the Cuban
JWR contributing columnist Don Feder's latest books are Who is afraid of the Religious Right? ($15.95) and A Jewish conservative looks at pagan America ($9.95). To receive an autographed copy, send a check or money order to: Don Feder, The Boston Herald, 1 Herald Sq., Boston, Mass. 02106. Doing so will help fund JWR, if so noted. He is also available as a guest speaker. To comment on this column please click here.