Castro as the Second Coming
By Jamie Glazov
FrontPageMagazine.com | 4/10/2009
Earlier his week, Congressional Black Caucus members visited Cuba and, expectedly, found heaven on earth, It was no surprise, of course, since all fellow travelers find paradise when they arrive at their totalitarian destinations.
The trip occurred amid talk that the Obama administration is considering a shift in relations with Cuba, perhaps entailing an end to certain restrictions placed on the communist tyranny for the past five decades.
Several members of the caucus, in typical fellow traveler fashion, prostrated themselves before Cuban President Raul Castro and the dictator himself at his home. At a following press conference, the cacucus members lavished veneration on the cruel and sadistic despotism. “He looked directly into my eyes!” boasted Rep. Laura Richardson (D-Ca.) after her meeting with Fidel. “He’s one of the most amazing human beings I’ve ever met!” exclaimed Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo) about Fidel.
Castro’s brother received some praise as well of course: “Raul Castro was a very engaging, down-to-earth and kind man,” gushed Bobby Rush (D-Ill.) “someone who I would favor as a neighbor. It was almost like visiting an old friend.”
Caucus Chairwoman Barbara Lee emerged from her meeting with Fidel as though she had just witnessed the Second Coming. Beaming with an apparent new purpose in life, she announced: “It was quite a moment to behold. Former President Fidel Castro is very engaging, very energetic. Our conclusion is, given the new direction in our foreign policy, that it’s time to look at a new direction in our policy toward Cuba. The 50-year embargo just hasn’t worked.”
Castro is indeed very energetic; he was always energetic. He was so energetic, in fact, that he succeeded in constructing one of the most evil and barbaric regimes that ever prevailed on the planet — a fact documented well by Humberto Fontova’s Fidel: Hollywood’s Favorite Tyrant.
But the Black Caucus political pilgrims weren’t too interested in this particular detail. Instead, they simply just called out for an end to the U.S. trade embargo and other diplomatic restrictions placed on Cuba. They didn’t call out for the release of the hundreds of political prisoners in Cuba. Nor did they say anything about any of the atrocious human rights abuses perpertated by the communist regime. And while Lee encouraged a “new direction” in U.S. policy, nowhere in her statements did she hint at the need for the Castro despots to start a “new direction” from their personal road of totalitarian terror.
And so nowhere was there even a hint that maybe the Castros would first have to turn a page from executing and torturing tens of thousands of their own people, or start releasing prisoners of conscience, or have at least even some semblance of free speech or free elections or freedom of religion, before any benefits started being showered on the regime.
This behavior of the Congressional Black Caucus is nothing new of course. It’s just another chapter in the long tradtion of the Left’s love affair with Castro’s Cuba. Ever since Castro seized power on January 1, 1959 and established his Stalinist regime, the Left has been ever grateful.
The horrifying experience of Armando Valladares, a Cuban poet who endured twenty-two years of torture and imprisonment for merely raising the issue of freedom, is a testament to the regime’s barbarity. Valladares’s memoir, Against All Hope, serves as Cuba’s version of Solzhenitsyn’s Gulag Archipelago. Valladares recounts how prisoners were beaten with bayonets, electric cables, and truncheons. He tells how he and other prisoners were forced to take “baths” in human feces and urine.
With this barbaric nature of Castro’s regime in mind, it is completely understandable why the Left initiated a romance with Castro and his slave camp, just as it did with Lenin’s and Stalin’s Gulag. Jerry Rubin set the tone for the Black Caucus political pilgrims more than four decades ago during his trip to Cuba in 1964, during which he paid special homage to Castro’s chief executioner, Che Guevara. Rubin proudly recalls:
“We were 84 Amerikan students visiting Cuba illegally in 1964. We had to travel 14,000 miles, via Czechoslovakia, to reach Cuba. . . . As Che rapped on for four hours, we fantasized taking up rifles. Growing beards. Going into the hills as guerrillas. Joining Che to create revolutions throughout Latin America. None of us looked forward to returning home to the political bullshit in the United States.”
Five years later, in1969, American leftists formed the Venceremos Brigade, a coalition whose members traveled to work in Cuba to show their solidarity with the Communist revolution. These fellow travelers participated mostly in sugar harvests in the first pilgrimages, while later brigade members engaged in various types of agricultural and construction work. High-profile Western leftists, meanwhile, including Susan Sontag, Jean-Paul Sartre, Norman Mailer, and Abbie Hoffman, also made pilgrimages to Cuba.
Berkeley activist Todd Gitlin traveled to Cuba with an SDS delegation to a Cultural Congress in 1967. In the belly of the totalitarian beast, where he was well aware that dissidents were rotting in jail and being tortured beyond imagination, Gitlin too experienced the intoxication of venerating tyranny. Leaving Cuba proved quite painful for him. He recalls:
“What was palpable was the pain of re-entry to my homeland. . . . At the Mexico City airport, having a drink with Dave Dellinger and Robert Scheer, I looked out the window and saw a billboard advertising Cutty Sark. I had to change seats: after twenty-three days where public space was turned to revolutionary use, capitalist propaganda disgusted me.”
What disgusted him, of course, were the withdrawal symptoms he was experiencing—analogous to a drug addict coming off his fix. For twenty-three days he had experienced his euphoria of shedding his inner self and submerging himself within the totalitarian whole. In Cuba he had found a home where even the slightest dissent would be crushed instantly and the concept of the individual was non-existent. The advertisement he saw, therefore, was a horror to him, since it symbolized a free society where individuals could use their free will to pursue their own tastes and desires. This reality is anathema to any leftist.
As Gitlin so well revealed, Western leftist intellectuals were greatly inspired by the persecution of intellectuals in Cuba, just as the earlier generation had been by the persecution of intellectuals in Stalin’s Soviet Union. Charmed by the notion of a society in which their own talent—as well as their entire being—would be extinguished, they continued the practice of labeling the totalitarian monstrosity the opposite of what it was.
As the Black Caucus members exemplified, Western leftists have continued to shower adulation on Castro to this day. Here is just a brief portion of Humberto Fontova’s documented compilation of leftist praise for the death-cult leader:
“Cuba’s own Elvis!”—that’s how Dan Rather once described his friend Fidel Castro. Oliver Stone, another friend, describes Fidel as “very selfless and moral” and “one of the world’s wisest men.” “A genius!” agreed Jack Nicholson. Naomi Campbell said meeting Castro was “a dream come true!” According to Norman Mailer, Castro is “the first and greatest hero to appear in the world since the Second World War.” Jean-Paul Sartre said, “Castro is at the same time the island, the men, the cattle, and the earth. He is the whole island.” . . . Actress Gina Lollobrigida cooed, “Castro is an extraordinary man. He is warm and understanding and seems extremely humane.” Francis Coppola simply noted, “Fidel, I love you. We both have the same initials. We both have beards. We both have power and want to use it for good purposes.” Harry Belafonte added: “If you believe in freedom, if you believe in justice, if you believe in democracy, you have no choice but to support Fidel Castro!”
Steven Spielberg visited the father-god in Havana in the fall of 2002. He called the meeting with Castro “the most important eight hours of my life.”
Barbara Lee and her Congressional Black Caucus colleagues now definitely have something to talk about.
Get the whole story of the Left’s love affair with Castro in Jamie Glazov’s new book, “United in Hate: The Left’s Romance With Tyranny and Terror.”
Jamie Glazov is Frontpage Magazine’s editor. He holds a Ph.D. in History with a specialty in Russian, U.S. and Canadian foreign policy. He is the author of Canadian Policy Toward Khrushchev’s Soviet Union and is the co-editor (with David Horowitz) of The Hate America Left. He edited and wrote the introduction to David Horowitz’s Left Illusions. His new book is United in Hate: The Left’s Romance with Tyranny and Terror. To see his previous symposiums, interviews and articles Click Here. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.