An astute overarching comment

Jeff Golden

Picture 2 Here's a comment found far down a recent thread that didn't noticeably relate to the topic of the originating post (I don't think that's ever happened before in BO history, has it?).   I'm shouting it out because it so deftly nails something that makes discourse so squirrelly and progress so difficult.

It responded to an earlier remark from Bob T:  "Even in 1789 it was better than Castro's "Cuber", which many progressives think is so wonderful."

Then this from Bill B.: "The progressives I know don't think Cuba is 'wonderful' because we don't see things in extremes. There are aspects of life in Cuba that are very much regrettable, but there are also other elements that are commendable. Cuba has had doctors in less developed countries for years and some of them were among the first in Haiti after the earthquake struck despite this fact being almost completely ignored by the American media."

Yes.  Here's the divide that's much deeper than Left v. Right.  It's Binary v Nuanced thinking, which describes the difference between the last President and this one much better than L/R does.  And maybe what's amazing is that folks from opposite sides of the B/N divide ever understand anything the other says on any issue at any time.

P.S. I spent a month in Cuba ten years ago.  Its contradictions are part of its richness.  One laser-sharp memory: a propaganda billboard (they're all over the place) that said in Spanish, "Hundreds of millions of children will sleep in the street tonight.  None of them are Cuban."  That was accurate.  As was the fact that some of them do live on US streets.  And...I'm glad I live here instead of there.

Comments

  • tl (in sw) (unverified)
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    My mother went to Cuba with a group last year and was amazed. There were some wonderful things such as the aforementioned supply of well-trained doctors including some whose assignments included going around and visiting seniors and shut-ins on a regular basis (anyone remember the term "house call"?!?) to make sure they were okay, taking their meds, etc. Cuba sends its doctors all over Central and South America to help out. [Say whatever you wish about Michael Moore, but the ending of "Sicko" with the 9/11 emergency workers in Cuba really shined a light on the extremely different results the Cuban and US healthcare systems provide].

    Of course my mother saw very serious problems in Cuba as well. But don't we have our own share of major problems here in the US too? Do they totally negate whatever benefits our system offers?

    So many folks will rail on and on about the faults of other countries having never seen or lived in those countries. For those who haven't and/or cannot travel, I invite you to exercise skepticism in whatever media source(s) from which you collect your data. Check out international press, Al Jazeera, etc. Understand that every media outlet exists for a purpose (to sell papers, to trumpet the party line, to promote an ideology, to offer opposition, etc.). Take none at face value, weigh them against each other, then form your conclusion.

    The existence of more advantages does not erase the problems either country (or others) face. And to compare the sum pros and cons of each country against each other is an exercise in pointlessness.

    To limit our attention to the oft quoted, seldom examined "facts" about Cuba and other countries, and to believe that we cannot learn from each others' successes and failures is, at best, short-sighted, and at worst an act of arrogant hubris.

  • Abby Norml (unverified)
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    You know what else divides left and right? How many moves ahead they think. Participation in religion is another. Hmmm... Nuanced thinking, thinking more moves ahead, not believing in the Holy Spook...could it simply be that the left is simply smarter?

    Hey, boats, Richard, Wunderblunder, and Parker! Could you chime in? You make the point so much better!!!

  • SeymourGlass (unverified)
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    :...could it simply be that the left is simply smarter?"

    It COULD be. But it's NOT.

  • tl (in sw) (unverified)
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    Abby...something:

    Although you might suggest "the left is simply smarter", I have to say the left is has been consistently weaker than the right in articulating and selling its ideas to the public than the right has. Those on the right might say this is because the left's ideas are inferior, but I would disagree that that is the reason.

    I am further frustrated that left seems paralyzed now without a 60 vote majority in the Senate. Does the left not see all that was accomplished (good or ill) by the previous administration with far from a 60 vote majority?

  • dartagnan (unverified)
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    "I have to say the left is has been consistently weaker than the right in articulating and selling its ideas to the public than the right has."

    I can think of three reasons for that right off the bat:

    1. The right has a far more powerful apparatus for disseminating its views. (Where's the left-wing counterpart of Rush Limbaugh or Faux News?)

    2. The right has more money for disseminating its views.

    3. The right's message is simplistic (NO MORE TAXES! DOWN WITH BIG GOVERNMENT!) and it's always easier to sell a simple message than a complex one.

  • Zarathustra (unverified)
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    Although you might suggest "the left is simply smarter", I have to say the left is has been consistently weaker than the right in articulating and selling its ideas to the public than the right has.

    I'll bet a 6th grade class would rather hear a sports figure speak than Steven Hawking. Must be his synthesized voice. Maybe the sports figure is more articulate. Maybe the kids aren't mature enough to appreciate Hawking. Gee, I wonder which it is?

    American democracy and the American voter are the least mature in the first world, full stop. It's not ideology. "Peri" made me sit through the Tory Party conference this year. There's right wing and there's immature. The difference in the two country's political maturity was pretty stark.

  • andy (unverified)
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    Cuba is a good example of what happens when "progressive" values are backed up with military power. Once the evil rich and evil corporations are taxed away then you're left with a bunch of dirt poor people digging in the dirt. Basically the same thing that would happen in Oregon if the place was run by the BO editorial board. Chuck and Kari would destroy Oregon just like Castro has destroyed Cuba if someone actually trusted them with guns. And every step of the way they would say "it is for the people" or "it is for the children". Chavez is in the process of destroying another entire economy while using the same exact playbook.

  • Jeff Golden (unverified)
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    If I were to make up a posting to illustrate what I mean by binary thinking, I doubt that I could do as well as what Andy's written.  JG

  • Zarathustra (unverified)
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    Well, if Chavez "succeeds", then it would make a point, since they are oil rich. There's not much of a future in sugar cane. So, do you say Cuba was better off, andy, when American capitalists were running rough shod over the county? Rife with American mafiosi?

    So, if Cuba is such a failure story, why is it that their population is better educated, across the board, across class, than the US? Having watched the bloody spectacle called M66/67, I can empathize with Castro's sentiment that free speech shouldn't mean freedom to destroy the system, offering nothing in return.

  • Zarathustra (unverified)
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    Oh, yeah, and his sentiment that suffering as a poor or lower middle class American is being far less free than people are in Cuba.

  • Alberto de la Cruz (unverified)
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    One sentence in the post script of this editorial caught my attention:

    "Its [Cuba's] contradictions are part of its richness."

    Wow, I never imagined that the murder of tens of thousands of innocent Cubans over the past half-century by a vile and despotic dictatorship contributes to the "richness" of Cuba.

  • Jeff Golden (unverified)
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    From commenter Alberto: "I never imagined that the murder of tens of thousands of innocent Cubans over the past half-century by a vile and despotic dictatorship contributes to the "richness" of Cuba."  As a serius student of Cuba, Alberto, I will say this is flatly untrue.  And I'm ready to read any objective evidence to the contrary you can provide.

  • Alberto de la Cruz (unverified)
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    Mr. Gordon:

    I'm not entirely sure what "objective evidence" you are requesting. It is a known fact, documented by countless sources and historians, that the Castro dictatorship is directly and indirectly responsible for the deaths of upwards of 100,000 Cubans by some estimates. A simple Google search will provide you with plenty of "objective evidence" to this fact.

    Unfortunately, the deaths caused by this despotic dictatorship are only a portion of the misery Cuba has suffered for the past 51 years. You have the hundreds of thousands of Cubans that have been jailed for opposing the reimge. You have the tens of thousands of Cubans that were sent to re-education camps where they were subjected to brutal treatment and hard labor simply for speaking out against the government, or for being gay, or for listening to imperialistic rock music. You have the tens of thousands of Cubans whose only crime was to ask to leave the "workers' paradise" who were forced to work one, two, and some even three or more years in labor camps to "earn" their exit visas (Google UMAP). And lastly, you have the 11-million+ Cubans on the island today that are nothing more than slaves, sold as chattel to the highest bidder by their slave masters.

    If indeed you are a serious student of Cuba, as you imply that you are, you would be aware of these atrocities. If you really knew the history of Cuba, you would not have made such an offensive statement that implies that the suffering endured by the Cuban people at the hands of a brutal and vile regime contributes to the richness of the country. It is in spite of the brutality and the repression that Cubans suffer on a daily basis that they find a way to survive to live another day.

  • Alberto de la Cruz (unverified)
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    My apologies. In my previous comment I meant to address you as Mr. Golden.

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    Mr. De la Cruz: I'm genuinely sorry if you were offended by my comment that Cuba's contradictions are part of its richness. If you're one who suffered as a result of the regime change -- and your passion hints to me that might be the case -- I can see how you might take offense What I meant was that the contradictions that I experienced during my own visit (in which the downside was basically the reluctance of some Cubans to fully express themselves on the street, and the thin food supply in some Havana markets, NOT anything so grave as the murder of people) was part of its rich complexity. I could have phrased that with more care. Now: your last posting has a long list of alleged atrocities that you suggest any good student of Cuba would know. I have heard that shocking list before, or versions of it, from passionate opponents of Castro and the Revolution. What I HAVEN'T seen, and what you didn't provide despite my request, is credible evidence (i.e, verified by witnesses with no big ax to grind) to support your claim of "the murder of tens of thousands of innocent Cubans over the past half-century." Your response--"oh, just Google it, there's all kinds of convincing evidence"-- doesn't quite get the job done, What I'm asking you to do is to provide me with one single clearly, independently verified report (not a propaganda release) that tens of thousands of innocent Cubans were murdered in the Revolution. Given your seeming confidence that there's good proof all over the place, that shouldn't be dificult. Please refer me to whatever you judge to be the most credible proof. I'm pursuing this conversation not as someone who thinks Castro's a saint or that the Revolution caused no harm to innocent people, but as someone who grew up amidst a barrage of jingoistic propaganda against foreign leaders who wouldn't play ball with us, and I believe we're still paying the price for those historical distortions today.

  • Alberto de la Cruz (unverified)
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    Mr. Golden:

    I have to be honest with you. I find your request for "proof" that the brutal Castro regime is responsible for the deaths of thousands of Cubans to be no less ludicrous than someone asking for proof that the Jewish Holocaust actually took place. Nevertheless, I appreciate your candor and your willingness to engage in this discussion. I can only hope that the following references I am about to provide you with will allow you to understand why I find your request for proof to be so absurd.

    I will start with the Black Book of Communism. This is an extremely well-documented book written by French scholars, which details the crimes against humanity committed by Communist regimes. It was translated into English and published by Harvard University Press. Here you will find over 14,000 meticulously documented executions committed by the Castro regime.

    Tony Judt of the New York Times had this to say about this book.

    "An 800-page compendium of the crimes of Communist regimes worldwide, recorded and analyzed in ghastly detail by a team of scholars. The facts and figures, some of them well known, others newly confirmed in hitherto inaccessible archives, are irrefutable. The myth of the well-intentioned founders--the good czar Lenin betrayed by his evil heirs--has been laid to rest for good. No one will any longer be able to claim ignorance or uncertainty about the criminal nature of Communism, and those who had begun to forget will be forced to remember anew."

    Next we have the Cuba Archive, which is an ongoing project documenting the names of those that have been killed or have disappeared at the hands of the so-called Cuban revolution. The names contained in this database have all been researched and documented as victims of the Castro regime.

    Continued...

  • Alberto de la Cruz (unverified)
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    Another source you may want to examine that provides the Castro regime's propensity to execute its opponents is the book Cuban Communism by Irving Louis Horowitz and Jaime Suchlicki.

    There is also have an exhaustive list of information and resources detailing the brutality of the Castro dictatorship provided by Indiana University professor Dr. Tony de la Cova at his Latin American Studies website, LatinAmericanStudies.org

    In regards to the infamous UMAP camps, you may try reading Fidel Castro and the quest for a revolutionary culture in Cuba by Julie Marie Bunck. The two paragraphs that this link highlights describes the UMAP atrocity quite well.

    And if all of these sources are still not enough for you, perhaps this video of a Cuban being executed by the Castro dictatorship will convince you.

  • Jeff Golden (unverified)
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    Alberto, thanks for a substantive response.  I would like to be sure we're clear on our communication.  Never once did I deny there was brutality and killing by Cuban revolutionaries.  I asked for documentation of your very specific claim that the revolution "murdered tens of thousands of innocent Cubans."  Here you seem to have downgraded it to "responsible for the death of thousands of Cubans," which both reduces your original claim by 90% and omits "innocent," which means you could now include Batista's troops killed in the fighting in your total.  Which is not to whitewash anyone's violence;  it's simply that I dod not find your original claim credible, and still don't.  You do say that in the book you cite below " Here you will find over 14,000 meticulously documented executions committed by the Castro regime.

    If that in fact is the case, and if those 14,000 were non-combatants (you can't count soldiers and armed fighters as "innocent" within the context of a civil war), then your claim is true.  And if so, I will be surprised and apologetic. I will Google the book today.    Please do not compare my skepticism at the statement that Castro "murdered tens of thousands of innocent Cubans" with Holocaust denial.

  • Alberto de la Cruz (unverified)
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    Mr. Golden:

    I commend you for at least acknowledging that the Castro dictatorship has committed brutal murders. In regards to your assumption that I have "downgraded" my claims, please do not interpret my choice of verbs and nouns to mean anything more than an attempt by me to keep my comments concise and to the point. I stand by my original claim that tens of thousands of innocent Cubans have died--either directly or indirectly--because of the Castro regime and the Cuban revolution.

    The Black Book of Communism documents 14,000+ executions that took place under the rule of Fidel Castro based on records they were able to find and corroborate. That does not mean, by any stretch of the imagination, that that number is the definitive value. Those were only the ones they could document.

    Under Stalin and Mao, millions of Russians and Chinese citizens were executed, murdered, or starved to death. I seriously doubt there are physical documents that catalog each and every one of those deaths. Nevertheless, those deaths did occur and the lack of documentation does not make them disappear.

    In a totalitarian dictatorship, there is no way to determine exactly how many people have been killed. We do know for certain, however, that for 51 years Cubans have been trying to escape the island prison where they are kept as slaves. Only God knows how many Cubans have perished in the Florida Straits trying to escape. Only God knows how many Cubans have been shot and killed as they boarded a homemade raft on a dark night. Only God knows how many Cubans have been picked up off the street by Castro thugs and murdered.

    Considering the fact that the Castro regime is a brutal dictatorship that has committed countless, verifiable and documented atrocities, the figure "tens of thousands" is a conservative estimate at best. If you subscribe to the Stalinist philosophy that one death is a tragedy, but a million deaths is just a statistic, then none of this should bother you. But I seriously doubt you honestly believe that.

    This is not about Batista or soldiers killed during the battles leading up to 1/1/1959. The total of those deaths--both the Batista soldiers and the revolutionaries--are but a minuscule fraction of the death and carnage that took place when Castro took power.

    Human rights violations are human rights violations. None are justifiable, and none can be accepted. Citing Batista and what took place in Cuba before Castro does not excuse the vile atrocities committed by Castro and his henchmen.

  • Zarathustra (unverified)
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    Classic right wing logic. Worth quoting as an example.

    1). Repeat that you "really believe it". 2). Cite crap "research". 3). Generalize the argument to non-parallel examples, and engage in the fallacy of the middle term.

    QED, you have a right wing dittohead, trying his hand at logic.

    I thought right wingers hated anything French. Quoting "Le Livre noir du communisme : Crimes, terreur, répression"? Stéphane Courtois is as well respected a historian as Tom Clancy. Oh, you thought he was a peer respected historian too?

  • Alberto de la Cruz (unverified)
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    Zarathustra:

    I'm sorry that the best you can come up with to prove your point is to attack me personally. It must really suck to have that as your only means of expression. I can only imagine how frustrating and maddening life must be for someone in your position.

    My heart goes out to you.

  • Zarathustra (unverified)
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    Congrats! You get the award for #1 non-sequitur ever uttered here. What, in that response, could you construe as personal??? Are you Stéphane Courtois?

    Then, he adds a personal dig. Are you so incapable of seeing yourself in real-time?

  • Abby NORML (unverified)
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    Via Alberto de la Cruz, here's a pretty good read on Cuba from the John Birch Society.

    Wow. He IS a scholar. Who knew Medford was so blessed? 'Fess up. Daddy Wenn recruiting from the hard right?

  • Alberto de la Cruz (unverified)
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    Zarathustra:

    I only responded to your comment because I felt sorry for you. Now you want to me to explain it to you. Don't confuse my empathy for a desire to converse with you.

  • American Eagle Gold Coins (unverified)
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    <h2>Thanks a lot for the post!</h2>

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