Jewish World Review May 12, 2003 / 10 Iyar, 5763

Jeff Jacoby

Jeff Jacoby
JWR's Pundits
World Editorial
Cartoon Showcase

Mallard Fillmore

Michael Barone
Mona Charen
Linda Chavez
Ann Coulter
Greg Crosby
Larry Elder
Don Feder
Suzanne Fields
Paul Greenberg
Bob Greene
Betsy Hart
Nat Hentoff
David Horowitz
Marianne Jennings
Michael Kelly
Mort Kondracke
Ch. Krauthammer
Lawrence Kudlow
Dr. Laura
John Leo
David Limbaugh
Michelle Malkin
Chris Matthews
Michael Medved
MUGGER
Kathleen Parker
Wes Pruden
Sam Schulman
Amity Shlaes
Tony Snow
Thomas Sowell
Cal Thomas
Jonathan S. Tobin
Ben Wattenberg
George Will
Bruce Williams
Walter Williams
Mort Zuckerman

Consumer Reports

Castro's cheerleaders

http://www.NewsAndOpinion.com | "Cuba is an anachronism in our hemisphere, an anachronism on the face of the Earth," Secretary of State Colin Powell remarked the other day. "And the whole international community should be condemning Cuba."

Who could disagree? In a ruthless crackdown just four weeks ago, the Castro regime rounded up 75 peaceful dissidents -- economists, journalists, pro-democracy petitioners, even a poet or two -- and sentenced them to prison terms of up to 28 years. The combined total of their sentences was a stunning 1,454 years -- nearly a millennium and a half behind bars for the crime of independent thought. One US official characterized it as "the most despicable act of political repression in the Americas in a decade." No less barbaric was the fate of three Cubans who attempted to escape Castro's island gulag by hijacking a ferry to Florida: They were killed by firing squad. Of course the whole international community should be condemning Cuba.

But it isn't. Last week Cuba was elected to a new three-year term on the UN Commission on Human Rights. There it will serve with such other human-rights luminaries as Libya (which chairs the commission), Sudan, Zimbabwe, and Saudi Arabia. The American ambassador, disgusted by the commission's deference to the foremost human rights violator in the Western Hemisphere, walked out. No other country followed suit, not even the democracies. So much for the outrage of the "international community."

At least the UN commission didn't issue a statement defending Castro's dictatorship. That is more than can be said for the 160-plus "artists and intellectuals" -- well, that's what Reuters calls them -- who decided this would be a good time to issue a "declaration of support" for Cuba. Their statement parroting Castro's claim that the United States is plotting to topple him, warns that Washington's "harassment against Cuba could serve as a pretext for an invasion." Two entertainers, Harry Belafonte and Danny Glover, are among the signers. So are a few Nobel laureates, including such icons of the left as Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Rigoberta Menchu.

Why do people like this come to Castro's defense? He is a thug, a lifelong enemy of freedom, democracy, and tolerance. Doesn't that matter to them? Over the years he has murdered or imprisoned thousands of Cubans whose only crime was to disapprove of his Stalinist misrule. Thousands more have lost their lives while attempting to flee the misery and persecution of life under Castro. Doesn't that matter to them?

Glover, Marquez, and Belafonte are hardly unique. Celebrities, journalists, and other illuminati have long gushed with admiration for Cuba's communist despot. Many make the pilgrimage to sit worshipfully at his feet. Just last month, Newsweek reported on "the latest group of New York-based VIPs" who were headed with Yoko Ono for "a whirlwind three-night stay in Havana culminating with dinner (at about $6,500 a head) with Fidel Castro." In February, history-twisting filmmaker Oliver Stone beatified Castro as "one of the earth's wisest people, one of the people we should consult."

For 44 years Castro has strangled Cuban liberty, and for 44 years his "progressive" acolytes have been giving him ovations. In "Useful Idiots" her devastating new book on the left's ignoble Cold War history, Mona Charen rounds up some telling examples. There was Norman Mailer's early rhapsody to Castro, for example ("You were the first and greatest hero to appear in the world since the Second War"). And Jesse Jackson's 1984 cheerleading at the University of Havana ("Long live Cuba! Long live the United States! Long live Fidel Castro! Long live Martin Luther King! Long live Che Guevara! Long live Patrice Lumumba! Long live our cry of freedom!").

Castro and communism turned Cuba into a place so bleak and suffocating that ordinary people throw themselves into the ocean to escape it. Yet a chorus of enthusiasts is ever ready, despite all the evidence to the contrary, to paint a glowing picture of Cuban life. During the Elian Gonzalez affair in 2000, Charen notes, some US journalists simply couldn't fathom why Elizabet Broton, Elian's mother, would want to leave such a paradise.

"What was she escaping?" wondered ABC's Jim Avila. "By all accounts this quiet, serious young woman who loved to dance the salsa was living the good life, as good as it gets for a citizen of Cuba." Her hunger for freedom baffled him; all he could see in it was a tragic and wrongheaded choice: "An extended family destroyed by a mother's decision to start a new life in a new country, a decision that now leaves a little boy . . . forever separated from her."

Colin Powell is right: Cuba's dictatorial regime is indeed an anachronism, cruel and repressive and backward. But it isn't only Castro who keeps the Cuban people down. It is also the groupies who sing his praises and the sycophants who ignore his crimes. They give aid and comfort to a tyrant, and their collaboration will not be forgotten.

Like this writer's work? Why not sign-up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.


Jeff Jacoby is a Boston Globe columnist. Comment by clicking here.

05/08/03: In 'enlightened' New England, it hurts to give
05/06/03: Help the living before the dead
04/25/03: The search for the 'smoking gun'
04/21/03: Trading truth for access?
04/14/03: Kerry's abortion litmus test
04/11/03: Meanwhile, in Cuba, the tyranny goes on
04/07/03: Explaining the war to a six-year-old
03/31/03: Empowering a terroristocracy in the name of 'peace'?
03/27/03: America the liberator
03/10/03: THE UNITED NATIONS, RIP
03/10/03: Changing the definition of marriage
03/07/03: Liberate Iraq -- even with unclean hands
03/03/03: Why talk radio tilts right
02/21/03: A boost for Saddam
02/10/03: On outing Kerry
02/06/03: The neverending voyage
02/03/03: This hasn't been a 'rush to war'
01/31/03: Killing the terror regimes
01/29/03: How not to win the war
01/24/03: The UN's moral irrelevance
01/22/03: Musings, random and otherwise
01/17/03: The Sharpton hypocrisy
01/13/03: The fig leaf of 'diversity'
01/10/03: Israeli restraint makes terrorism more likely
01/02/03: The double standard on political hate speech
12/30/02: Good for the spirit, good for the body
12/23/02: The college president who owes a greater duty to a fugitive serial killer than the public or to the law
12/20/02: The death penalty by the numbers
12/16/02: Yes, Virginia, there is (still) a liberal media bias
12/03/02: On the brink of regime change --- in Iran
11/27/02: Light's victory over darkness
11/25/02: A 'Republican' lesson from a Democratic convention
11/22/02: The slippery senator
11/18/02: The campus 'diversity' fraud
11/14/02: MURDER AT A KIBBUTZ
11/01/02: Saddam's shop of horrors
10/24/02: Musings, random and otherwise
10/17/02: Jimma's ignoble prize
10/14/02: New Jersey's bigot laureate
10/11/02: Today it is libs who are most likely to demand the silencing of speech they disapprove of
10/04/02: Learning English from Day 1
09/30/02: The world will follow us to war
09/27/02: The face of antisemitism
09/20/02: Starving time in Zimbabwe
09/14/02: Against moral confusion / 9-12-2002
09/03/02: With 'eternal friends' like these
08/30/02: Enriching survivors was a costly mistake
08/26/02: John Kerry's absent passion
08/23/02: Bonnie, get your gun
08/19/02: A screenwriter's remorse
07/29/02: The real abortion extremists
07/26/02: Another round of Kemp-Roth
07/19/02: Jews among Arabs, Arabs among Jews
07/15/02: Musings, random and otherwise
07/12/02: The new civil rights champions
07/03/02: Riding the rails
07/01/02: The prerequisite to peace
06/24/02: Frisking AlGore
06/17/02: Offense, not defense, is the key to homeland security
06/14/02: Looking at the horror
06/07/02: The cost of a death-penalty moratorium
06/03/02: Executing 'children,' and other death-penalty myths
05/29/02: A real threat?
05/24/02: The message in Arafat's headdress
05/20/02: (Mis)playing the popularity card
05/10/02: Outspoken, Muslim -- and moderate
05/10/02: The heroes in Castro's jails
05/06/02: The disappearing history term paper
05/03/02: Musings, random and otherwise
04/29/02: The canary in Europe's mine
04/15/02: Powell's crazy mission
04/12/02: The slavery reparations hustle
04/08/02: Peace at any price = war
03/26/02: Decency matters most, Caleb
03/22/02: The U.S. embargo and Cuba's future
03/19/02: The keepers of Cuba's conscience
03/15/02: A walk in Havana
02/26/02: Buchanan's lament
02/12/02: What 'peace' means to Arafat
02/08/02: STEVEN EMERSON AND THE NPR BLACKLIST
02/05/02: Antismoking: Who pays?
02/01/02: Turn the Saudis
01/25/02: Making MLK cry
01/21/02: Ted to tax cut: Drop dead
01/18/02: Musings random and otherwise
01/14/02: An ultimatum to Saudi Arabia
01/11/02: Friendship, Saudi-style
01/07/02: Shakedown at Harvard
01/04/02: More guns, more safety
01/02/02: Smears and slanders from the Left
12/28/01: Congress gives to others -- and itself
12/24/01: The littlest peacemakers
12/20/01: How to condemn terror
12/18/01: Greenland once was
12/14/01: Parents who never said ''no''
12/11/01: Wit and (economic) wisdom
12/07/01: THE PALESTINIANS' MYTH
12/04/01: The war against Israel goes on
11/30/01: Tribunals, motorcycles -- and freedom
11/19/01: Friendship and the House of Saud
11/12/01: The Justice Department's unjust monopoly
11/09/01: Muslim, but not extremist
11/02/01: Too good for Oprah
10/29/01: Journalism and the 'neutrality fetish'
10/26/01: Derail these subsidies
10/22/01: Good and evil in the New York Times
10/15/01: Rush Limbaugh's ear
10/08/01: With allies like these
10/01/01: An unpardonable act
09/28/01: THE CENSORS ARE COMING! THE CENSORS ARE COMING!
09/25/01: Speaking out against terror
09/21/01: What the terrorists saw
09/17/01: Calling evil by its name
09/13/01: Our enemies mean what they say
09/04/01: The real bigots
08/31/01: Shrugging at genocide
08/28/01: Big Brother's privacy -- or ours?
08/24/01: The mufti's message of hate
08/21/01: Remembering the 'Wall of Shame'
08/16/01: If I were the editor ...
08/14/01: If I were the Transportation Czar ...
08/10/01: Import quotas 'steel' from us all
08/07/01: Is gay "marriage" a threat?
08/03/01: A colorblind nominee
07/27/01: Eminent-domain tortures
07/24/01: On protecting the flag ... and drivers ... and immigrants
07/20/01: Dying for better mileage
07/17/01: Why Americans would rather drive
07/13/01: Do these cabbies look like bigots?
07/10/01: 'Defeated in the bedroom'
07/06/01: Who's white? Who's Hispanic? Who cares?
07/02/01: Big(oted) man on campus
06/29/01: Still appeasing China's dictators
06/21/01: Cuban liberty: A test for Bush
06/19/01: The feeble 'arguments' against capital punishment
06/12/01: What energy crisis?
06/08/01: A jewel in the crown of self-government
05/31/01: The settlement myth
05/25/01: An award JFK would have liked
05/22/01: No Internet taxes? No problem
05/18/01: Heather has five mommies (and a daddy)
05/15/01: An execution, not a lynching
05/11/01: Losing the common tongue
05/08/01: Olympics 2008: Say no to Beijing
05/04/01: Do welfare mothers a kindness: Make them work
05/01/01: Another man's child
04/24/01: Sharon should have said no
04/02/01: The Inhumane Society
03/30/01: To have a friend, Caleb, be a friend
03/27/01: Is Chief Wahoo racist?
03/22/01: Ending the Clinton appeasement
03/20/01: They're coming for you
03/16/01: Kennedy v. Kennedy
03/13/01: We should see McVeigh die
03/09/01: The Taliban's wrecking job
03/07/01: The No. 1 reason to cut taxes
03/02/01: A Harvard candidate's silence on free speech
02/27/01: A lesson from Birmingham jail
02/20/01: How Jimmy Carter got his good name back
02/15/01: Cashing in on the presidency
02/09/01: The debt for slavery -- and for freedom
02/06/01: The reparations calculation
02/01/01: The freedom not to say 'amen'
01/29/01: Chavez's 'hypocrisy': Take a closer look
01/26/01: Good-bye, good riddance
01/23/01: When everything changed (mostly for the better)
01/19/01: The real zealots
01/16/01: Pardon Clinton?
01/11/01: The fanaticism of Linda Chavez
01/09/01: When Jerusalem was divided
01/05/01 THEY NEVER FORGOT THEE, O JERUSALEM
12/29/00 Liberal hate speech, 2000
12/15/00Does the Constitution expect poor children be condemned to lousy government schools?
12/08/00 Powell is wrong man to run State Department
12/05/00 The 'MCAS' teens give each other
12/01/00 Turning his back on the Vietnamese -- again
11/23/00 Why were the Pilgrims thankful?
11/21/00 The fruit of this 'peace process' is war
11/13/00 Unleashing the lawyers
11/17/00 Gore's mark on history
40 reasons to say NO to Gore

© 2002, Boston Globe