It seems likely that soon Fidel Castro will die. With the prospect of his death, the liberal intellectuals in the U.S. will increase their debates over human rights in Cuba. They will once again charge the Cuban regime of being the biggest human rights violator in the western hemisphere, refusing to look at the atrocities committed by their own government. There will even be those on the "radical left" who, it seems, will cheer on U.S. sponsored counter-revolution, for the sake of their own ideological purity.
Let's agree, that the issues I write about here are more important than anything I might say about philosophy or academic institutions or any other delusion of grandeur of the clerical classes.
In the first place, the problem is here in the United States and not in Cuba, and the problem is with all of us. Maybe, this is my petty bourgeois moralism coming out, and I am sorry to people I generally agree with if they think I am blaming them. I don't exclude myself.
Try to imagine the United States in the same position as Cuba. Try to imagine a super-power thousands of times more powerful than the U.S. united against the U.S.; perhaps some united coalition of Europe, the old Soviet states, Japan, China, and all of the oil countries, plus all of the countries in the Western hemisphere. Then try to imagine this ultra-super-power repeatedly invading the U.S., bombing our hotels and airplanes, repeatedly attempting to assassinate our leaders, poisoning our livestock, and trying to spread diseases that make our cash crops useless, employing biological warfare of all kinds, recruiting "exiles" from the U.S. to form secret armies to attack U.S. interests around the world. Try to imagine all of this if you can. Then what do you think would be the human rights reaction of the U.S. rulers in relation to its "dissenters"? And then if this unimaginably large imagined ultra-super power, also imposes blockades and embargoes on the U.S. so that even the most basic economic functions are made to scream, what do you think the reaction of "our" rulers would be?*
The point is almost mute because nuclear bombs would have already slaughtered a billion or so people in the countries that supported the coalition against God's chosen country.
But supposing we didn't destroy half (or all) of the world in our God ordained rage, what would have happened to civil liberties in this country?.
All one has to do is to look to the evidence of the past and the present. Not only would masses of "dissenters" be in gulags, that would dwarf the gulags of the Japanese internment**, but they would probably also dwarf the gulags of the old Soviet Union. Not only would habeus corpus be suspended for enemy combatants***, but most of us who dared to disagree with our government would already be labeled "enemy combatants." Further there would be right-wing "Christian" and KKK-like death squads in the streets, kidnapping and murdering homosexuals, union members, blacks, and other people of color, and immigrants. If evidence of the past is any indication many of these death squads will be composed of cops and police departments themselves will be purged of "dissenters".
The Cuba of the 60s, 70s, and 80s would be a human rights haven compared to the U.S. under similar circumstances. In fact compared to U.S. sponsored and created "death squad democracies" and terror regimes through-out Latin America -- Brazil, Argentina, Columbia, El Salvador, Guatemala, -- Cuba was a human rights haven. It was a human rights haven also for exiles from those terror regimes. Compared even to the totalitarian state of Mississippi during the 50s and much of the 60s, Cuba even comes out smelling like roses during its worse periods of human rights violations.
But even this comparison doesn't get at the heart of the matter. Because the point is that this country, the United States, has committed and is committing human rights violations in Cuba, And where is the resounding sound of "human rights" intellectuals standing up and protesting U.S. committed human rights violations in Cuba? Well nowhere. Because we don't even recognize our responsibility.
The amount of hypocrisy that is evidenced by U.S. intellectuals criticizing Cuba for human rights violations after the campaign of terror that our tax dollars sponsored against Cuba is more evidence of the inability of our intellectual culture to even conceive of the meaning of "responsibility". Good, go ahead, "admit" the human rights violations in Cuba, even blame Cuba for them. But there is one thing that all of us could do immediately to stop a fair amount of human rights violations in Cuba. Stop or try to stop our country from sponsoring human rights violations in Cuba. Every terrorist act, and attempt at economic destruction, sponsored by the U.S. in Cuba is a human rights violation.
So all of you who want to stop human rights violations in benighted Cuba, just remember hypocrisy begins at home. We will continue to live in the Republic of Hypocrisy in the near future until most of us realize that the country we are responsible for is the United States not Cuba. We are more responsible for the repression and murders we commit in Cuba than for what ever repression the Cuban regime commits in Cuba.
I am an old fashion "radical leftist" in that I think that "the main enemy is at home." But that is too gentle. At the moment, as far as I cans see, the only enemy is at home.
25 December 2006
New York City
* For those who don't know, all of these actions, assassination, attempted assassination, terrorist acts, germ warfare, were acts the United States, committed against Cuba.
** For those who don't know the U.S. government put all people of Japanese descent, citizens and non-citizens alike, into concentration camps during World War II. Their property was also confiscated. If the U.S. did this under the real, though remote, threat of a Japanese invasion of California, imagine what the civil liberties response of the U.S. would be if it was threatened by my hypothetical ultra-super power.
*** There is no threat of enemy invasion of the U.S. today and yet for those designated as "enemy combatants", habeus corpus and the normal rule of law and due process of law are suspended. There is also no due process for the initial designation of "enemy combatant." It is essentially an almost unappealable administrative act of the executive branch of our government.
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Related post: Freedom and Moral Responsibility: the U.S. the free-est internally; the most violent externally
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