By Richard Larsen
Published – Idaho State Journal, 03/30/08
Those we look to as heroes speaks volumes about whom we are, and our character. Most of us identify heroes who exhibit qualities of character that we admire and we desire to emulate ourselves. Such character is manifest by actions, and what our heroes do to deserve such respect and veneration.
The recent passing of the dictatorial baton in Cuba from Fidel Castro to his equally totalitarian brother Raul provides a case study in hero worship. Fidel was the revolutionary who deposed Cuba’s corrupt dictator, Fulgencio Batista. Yet Castro became much worse than the ruler he led a revolution against, torturing and executing more than five times as many Cubans as his predecessor. He nationalized business interests in the country, abolished freedom of religion, took over the media, erased free speech, and turned the tropical island into a totalitarian “paradise” stripped of human rights and freedom. According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, Cuba trails only China in the number of journalists and reporters behind bars.
Political prisoners are beaten, starved, denied that acclaimed Cuban medical care, locked in solitary confinement, and forced into slave labor. Castro long ago eliminated due process of law, and the right to leave the country.
Freedom House, the international human rights watchdog, rates Cuba with the lowest possible rating for civil liberties and political rights. It shares that inauspicious ranking with North Korea and Sudan as the most repressive regimes.
In short, under Castro, a once-flourishing island paradise has been transformed into a poverty-stricken, desolate hellhole where basic human liberties do not exist.
In spite of all this, American media and the Hollywood left heaps praise and adulation on Fidel. Norman Mailer, for example, proclaimed him “the first and greatest hero to appear in the world since the Second World War.” Oliver Stone has called him “one of the earth's wisest people, one of the people we should consult.”
The paragon of objective documentarians, Michael Moore, holds up Castro’s health care system as the preeminent example. I guess if you don’t mind being stripped of all liberties and can survive the firing squads, the Cubans have something to look forward to.
Why is it that to the left a ruthless mass-murderer and totalitarian dictator would be so adored and worthy of emulation?
For that matter, why is Castro’s primary executioner of the revolution, Che Guevara, still lionized by the left? Even today, kids wear t-shirts with his gnarly image emblazoned on them. Even Angelina Jolie has a Che tattoo, which is immensely ironic considering she travels the world denouncing violence as a U.N. ambassador of good will.
Che longed to destroy New York City with nuclear missiles. He promoted book burning and signed death warrants for authors who disagreed with him. His racism against blacks makes Jeremiah Wright’s racism against whites pale by comparison, yet he’s a hero to Jesse Jackson. He persecuted homosexuals, long-haired rock and rollers, and church-goers. Daniel James writes that Che himself admitted to ordering “several thousand” executions during the first few years of the Castro regime. He carried out Castro-ordered executions on a more expansive scale per capita than Hitler’s Nazi Germany did, prior to implementation of the Final Solution.
We can even lump Hugo Chavez into the mix, for he is well on his way to doing to Venezuela what Castro did to Cuba, and he is receiving the characteristic leftist praise for it.
When analyzed logically, the left in America should hate Guevara, Castro, and Chavez. After all, they did all the things they accuse George Bush of doing: torture, capital punishment, imprisonment without due process, elimination of freedom of speech and the press. They’re probably fine with the elimination of freedom of religion.
So why is he so adored by them? What is it about Guevara, Castro, and Chavez that captures the left’s imagination like none other?
There are two possibilities. All three revolutionaries hate, or hated in the case of Guevara, the United States. In 1957, Castro wrote in a letter, “War against the United States is my true destiny. When this war’s over [the revolution], I'll start that much bigger and wider war.” Maybe the reason the radical left loves those murderous dictators and Castro’s executioner is because they share a disdain for this country.
The other possibility is that the left more frequently judges people for their intent than their actual accomplishments. The current presidential campaign illustrates this aptly, as Clinton’s “experience” seems to have no match for Obama’s “hope.” It doesn’t matter that neither one has really accomplished anything of substance, it’s their intent that matters most.
We are left to conclude that the radical left is totally ignorant of history, and devoid of logic, or their mutual contempt of the United States trumps all else.
Apparently the Obama campaign is attracting that type of ideologue. When his campaign office was opened in Houston before the Texas primary, the volunteer director had a Cuban flag with the image of the Communist mass murderer Che Guevara’s face printed on it. I can only pray that that’s not an omen. And next time you see someone with a Che shirt on, ask them why. Their answer may be illuminating.