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The Reactionary Utopian (classic)
November 11, 2011

Fidel’s American Friends
A classic by Joseph Sobran
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Someone has finally hit on the real point of the Elián Gonzalez debate. Describing the Cuban form of government, the conservative columnist Maggie Gallagher wrote a bluntly matter-of-fact sentence that no liberal would write: “If Castro wants you dead, you are dead.”

That puts the blame for this mess squarely where it belongs. If Fidel Castro’s shoreline patrols had been doing their job, Elián would have been dead months ago and we’d never have heard of him. He’d be one more nameless victim of Communism.

Yet Castro, with the support of American liberal opinion, claims the moral high ground in this case. He charges that Elián has been “kidnapped” by the United States and he wants him back, as the owner of a fugitive slave might demand the return of his property. He offers no assurance that Elián will be safe in Cuba, let alone that he will be free to leave later.

Nor would Bill Clinton dream of embarrassing Fidel by asking him for such assurance. That would amount to a renunciation of his precious right to rule as a Communist, which means treating emigration as a capital crime. And far be it from Clinton to blame Castro for the deaths of those — Elián’s mother among them — who were trying to escape Cuba.

After all, Cuba is a Communist state. In 1933 the United States conferred legitimacy on Communism when it extended diplomatic recognition to the Soviet Union, until then an international pariah regime.

If Communism is a legitimate form of government, under Castro as under Stalin, it has the right to claim the lives, labor, and property of its subjects. It has the right to kill them at its discretion, particularly if they try to escape. It owes them nothing, including protection against arbitrary arrest and execution. Castro’s patrol boats have killed many people on the spot for attempting to flee Cuba; Elián Gonzalez may yet die that way.

Writing in the Wall Street Journal, the Cuban novelist Alberto Montaner, who now lives in Spain, recalls a 1994 incident in which a Cuban patrol boat killed 10 children and 22 adults trying to escape aboard a tugboat. Castro “didn’t even allow the families to bury the bodies returned by the sea,” Montaner notes. We have no idea how many others have met the same fate, since the Cuban press doesn’t publicize such stories.

That kind of power, not Marxist mumbo-jumbo about the “labor theory of value” or “the class struggle,” is the essence of Communism. Ask any refugee. But of course liberals regard refugees from Communism with suspicion and scorn. In their minds, refugees from Castroland don’t seek freedom, flee persecution, or hate tyranny. (When was the last time you heard a liberal call Communism “tyranny”?) No, they are greedy members of a dispossessed ruling class, “landed oligarchs” and such, who come to this country out of purely venal motives. A letter to the New York Times calls Elián’s mother “cruel and reckless” for the risk she took.

Liberals just can’t get mad at Fidel. Their indignation is reserved for the Cuban community in Miami that passionately opposes sending Elián back to Cuba. After all, the Cuban “leader” (he is never a “strongman” or “dictator” in our liberal media) is still a progressive hero. He has created the kind of society progressives everywhere dream of. If it isn’t quite the “worker’s paradise,” a lot of the blame for Cuba’s misery goes to the U.S. embargo, imposed by politicians who “pander” to those “fanatically anti-Castro” Cubans in Florida. (We must never pander to ethnic groups!)

If you like government, you’ll love Cuba. The era of big government hasn’t ended there. The island is blessedly free of the “anti-government mentality” liberals deplore here. There is no habeas corpus; no free exercise of religion; no freedom of speech and press; no right to keep and bear arms; no protection against being deprived of life, liberty, and property without due process of law; no limited or constitutional government.

But there is plenty of equality in Cuba. Every Cuban is equally subject to the will of Fidel. And if Elián is sent back, the next time Fidel wants Elián dead, Elián is dead. ¡Viva la revolución!

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Copyright © 2011 by the Fitzgerald Griffin Foundation. All rights reserved. This column was published originally by Griffin Internet Syndicate on April 4, 2000.

Joe Sobran was an author and a syndicated columnist. See bio and archives of some of his columns.

Watch Sobran's last TV appearance on YouTube.

Learn how to get a tape of his last speech during the FGF Tribute to Joe Sobran in December 2009.

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