There’s a scene early in The Wizard of Oz when Dorothy’s house drops on top of a wicked witch. And the people of the land, the Munchkins, come out to meet “the young lady who fell from a star.” And they sing, “Ding Dong! The witch is dead! Which old witch? The wicked witch?” And they cheer and celebrate.
And then the other wicked witch shows up. And she’s every bit as bad as the one under the house.
It wasn’t until much later in the movie, when Dorothy accidentally kills the other wicked witch, by throwing water on her in the attempt to put out the fire on her friend the Scarecrow, that the large army of guards let their real allegiance be known. They had been tyrannized by the witch; they hadn’t served her out of love and loyalty. They cheered Dorothy for freeing them.
So, this weekend we’re looking at the somewhat unusual spectacle of people cheering the death of a human being: Fidel Castro. He was 90 years old, so no one ended his life prematurely. But there’s a sense that at last his personal evil has left the earth. Of course, he had a younger brother (Raul, 85), to whom he bestowed his power, so the tyranny can continue. So the story, for Cuba and its people, isn’t over yet.
It’s probably a good time to recount the evil, while people are taking notice—because people tend to overlook evil once it is no longer imminently threatening.
Fidel Castro has been the dictator of Cuba, not just during my adulthood, but essentially through my entire life. He came to power in 1959, in an overthrow of the Batista regime. As President Kennedy pointed out in 1960,
“They [Castro and other revolutionaries] promised individual liberty and free elections. They promised an end to harsh police-state tactics. They promised a better life for a people long oppressed by both economic and political tyranny. But in the two years since that revolution swept Fidel Castro into power, those promises have all been broken.”
Those promises were never intended; they were lies to get people to back them, so they could gain power. And once in power, they would wield it.
Castro’s style of tyranny was based in Marxist-Leninist doctrine. A year into his reign he nationalized all American-led industries (these included oil refineries, factories, and casinos), which led to the end of diplomatic relations with America. Let’s note here that Cuba had the ability to end the embargo at any time, by willingly agreeing to civil rights for its people and denying its intention to spread communism. Castro chose to let his people live in poverty, and then claim it was that evil capitalist America that was doing it to them.
When Obama lifted the embargo in 2015, it was not because Castro had capitulated—even partially. Obama, the “great” negotiator (as in the Iran deal), made sure the US got nothing in exchange for lightening its policies against the neighbor who had threatened us with nuclear missiles in the early 1960s. Maybe that was because Obama could see nothing wrong with Castro’s dictatorship or imposed socialism. We can only speculate, because Obama hasn’t provided any acceptable explanation.
Senator Marco Rubio, whose family escaped from Cuba, is right to hope for a rollback of the Obama concessions.
Obama’s expression of condolence was mild compared to some. Jill Stein, recent Green Party candidate who is insisting on a recount (does she think votes for her were hidden in a few states?) tweeted,
Fidel Castro was a symbol of the struggle for justice in the shadow of empire. Presente!
While the insanity of the sentence causes enough consternation, I’m puzzling over the “Presente!” which means “present,” as in, “I’m here in class, or in line” or maybe means, “I’m with you, and ready to go to battle on your side.” Or maybe she was just referring to him as “presidente” and misspelled it. Either way, her expression, while legal in the US (as dissenting views are not, in Cuba), is highly offensive, and reveals her to be both anti-American and pro-communist tyranny.
Much of today there was talk of Canada’s Prime Minister Trudeau lamenting the loss:
Fidel Castro was a larger than life leader who served his people for almost half a century. A legendary revolutionary and orator, Mr. Castro made significant improvements to the education and healthcare of his island nation.
There isn’t any truth in there, other than the length of time. He didn’t serve the Cuban people; he served himself by enslaving the people. In a country where people’s average income (using American money as a standard) is about $20 a month, Castro had amassed for himself a cache of $900 million. He enjoyed a massive estate, on a private island, and simply lied to his people.
There are those who claim he improved the education and healthcare of his people. Photo evidence shows healthcare for regular Cubans to be Third World at best, and filthier than a Gosnell clinic. If you know anyone who would prefer educating their child in Cuba rather than 90 miles north in Florida, I’ll concede that one, but I don’t think I’ll have to.
There are lists of the abuses and crimes against humanity, in particular his own people. Yale history professor Carlos Eire wrote a piece with such a list, called “Farewell to Cuba’s Brutal Big Brother,” with a pretty good list. He ends with this epitaph:
In sum, Fidel Castro was the spitting image of Big Brother in George Orwell’s novel “1984.” So, adiós, Big Brother, king of all Cuban nightmares. And may your successor, Little Brother, soon slide off the bloody throne bequeathed to him.
A piece by Jeff Powers earlier today included a list from CubaArchive.org/database that lists the deaths Castro is responsible for:
One thing we’re seeing is that support for Castro is limited exclusively to the leftist-progressive-liberal-democrat side. No lover of the Constitution and freedom would praise such a monster.
As Powers summarized in his piece:
Troublingly, the praise and criticism of Castro has mirrored political ideologies. Support is coming from those who lean left. Consider that for a moment. Because someone has an ideological slant similar to yours, you are willing to “overlook” decades of human rights and political abuses and heap praise on someone’s legacy. That is a scary thought, and shows how partisan our politics have become.
In Spherical Model terms, Castro was a deep south tyrannist. Control over people and power to himself were his goals, his ideology, and legacy. Those who praise Castro while claiming they fear and hate President-elect Trump for his authoritarianism are morally depleted. You can’t overlook one tyrant’s crimes and despise another just because he’s not currently in your party.
Those of us who see northern freedom clearly must never ever compromise with those who want to impose tyranny on us.
Senator Ted Cruz, whose father and other family members suffered under Castro’s dictatorship firsthand, recounts the history in a National Review op-ed. And I’m in agreement with him about Cuba going forward:
A dictator is dead. But his dark, repressive legacy will not automatically follow him to the grave. Change can come to Cuba, but only if America learns from history and prevents Fidel’s successor from playing the same old tricks.
Ding dong! The dictator is dead! But there’s still another dictator in place and willing to continue the oppression. And there are people among us in America who glorify tyranny and degrade Constitutional freedom. We must be constantly vigilant.