Hillare Belloc’s “Advice to the Rich” was lost on the Castro brothers: “Get to know something about the internal combustion engine, and remember – soon, you will die.”
Fidel Castro, Cuba’s deathless tyrant, died Nov. 25 full of years and a very rich man, his foreign bank account stuffed with other people’s money, though one would never guess it reading Jesse Jackson’s encomium.
The Washington Examiner noted, shortly after Fidel’s passing, that Jesse Jackson, “the civil rights leader, urged the nation to join ‘oppressed people’ across the globe in celebration of ‘the life of a liberator who fought and won against the rich and oligarch rule of [former Cuban President Fulgencio] Batista.’"
For as long as the Castro brothers ruled Cuba with a mailed fist, there were only two one-percenters in the island nation, both named Castro. Fidel lives on, one supposes, in his estate; Raul just lives on, waiting for the grim reaper to carry him off. In Cuba, the poor people – the Castro brothers must have loved them, because they made so many of them -- were afraid to speak Fidel's name in the street, not without reason. When referring to the "freedom fighter," they pointed to their chins, indicating Fidel's beard. Fidel began his life as dictator of Cuba by lying to then President Dwight Eisenhower – “no, I'm not a communist’’ -- and ended it by lying to himself and Jesse Jackson, who is still credulous enough to believe the lies. The problem with Jackson – and others inextricably entangled in their own past leftist commitments -- is that Mr. Jackson’s own unexamined past lies over his eyes like thick cataracts. He cannot see the political idol behind the veil.
“The idols of the nations are but silver and gold,” says the psalmist, “the work of man's hands. They have mouths, but they do not speak; they have eyes, but they do not see; they have ears, but they do not hear, nor is there any breath at all in their mouths…”
The bloody 20th Century replaced religious idols with political idols, such asvMussolini in Italy, Hitler in Germany, Stalin in Russia, Mao in China, Kim Il-sung in North Korea and the Castro brothers in Cuba. There was breath enough in their mouths to bury the tender shoot of democracy beneath mounds of lies. And all of them met and crushed by violent means courageous resistance in their own lands.
The brothers Castro knew well how to deal with the resistance. Their tutors were the atheistic communist idols of the political market place – Marx, Lenin and Stalin, each of whom made use of doctrinal enforcers. The Castro brothers' chief enforcer was Che Guevara, a murderer and thug whose somber bereted image appears today on the tees and sweatshirts of Ivy League radicals here in the United States.
In addition, the Castro brothers made full use of Lenin’s “terror,” and Stalin’s Lubyanka, the seat of Communist oppression in Russia. Once an insurance company, the Lubyanka became the headquarters of Stalin’s secret police, the Cheka. Irreverent Russians jokingly called it “the tallest building in Moscow,” since Siberia, the Gulag labor camp system, could be seen from its basement.
There were lots of secret police basements in Cuba, all put to good use by Cuba’s “civil rights leader.”
Cuba could not have survived so many years of Castro’s attentions without patrons and leftist useful idiots in the so called Free World. Just now, Raul, the surviving Castro, is in need of yet another patron. Nikita Khrushchev began moving away from Fidel after he had suggested a nuclear strike as an answer to U.S. aggression against Cuba. Even then Cuba was a patron sponge. Another patron, the worshipful Hugo Chávez of Venezuela, later took up the slack. Under the strains of Castro styled socialism, the economy of Venezuela collapsed, and the country’s current socialist caudillo, Nicolás Maduro, a former bus driver, has been unable to keep Venezuela’s grocery store shelves stocked with toilet paper, not to mention food.
Enter President Obama who, with his phone and pen, opened Cuba to American tourism. Alas, U.S. presidents come and go, unlike communist dictators such as Fidel, lauded by Canada’s 23rd Prime Minister Justin Trudeau as “Cuba’s longest serving President… a larger than life leader who served his people for almost half a century… A legendary revolutionary and orator… While a controversial figure, both Mr. Castro’s supporters and detractors recognized his tremendous dedication and love for the Cuban people who had a deep and lasting affection for ‘el Comandante.’”
During the beloved comandante’s reign of terror, a million Cubans fled into exile. Not all of them made it to freedom. On July 13, 1994, during the infamous Tugboat Massacre, Castro’s brown shirts killed 37 would-be escapees, most of them children and their mothers. Juanita Castro who fought alongside her brothers against the Batista regime, also was a defector: “I could not remain indifferent to what is happening in my country. My brothers Fidel and Raúl have made it an enormous prison surrounded by water,” she said. Someone should tell Mr. Trudeau and Mr. Jackson.
It is easy to understand the Castro brothers: They cared nothing about the internal combustion engines of the human spirit and, like most moral monsters, they thought they would live forever. But understanding the useful idiots has always involved a ticklish moral hazard: How is it possible for “civil rights leaders” and democracy defenders to bestow compliments upon civil rights offenders and democracy destroyers?
Don Pesci is a Vernon, Conn.-based political writer.