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Castro is Dead; Maybe Now We Can Grow Up

Fidel Castro is dead.  Many celebrate; fewer mourn.  The USA was upset at him for overthrowing one of the many dictators around the world whom we installed, propped up, or supported, and we castigate him for being a dictator, when really we were pissed only because he would not serve as OUR dictator.

In a Dodgeball-sort-of-way, Castro was the little man who fought against overwhelming odds to become a big man, and unlike most supplicating countries in the Caribbean and around the world, he would not knuckle under to the colossus of the North.  And failing to genuflect to the “leader of the Free World” is something that will always cause our national consternation and invite official scorn.

Part of our national angst against Castro was our snickering certainty that his form of communism would fail in a year or two, coupled with the reality that it has survived over half a century. We hated him because he embarrassed us. 

Yes, yes, his form [and all forms!] of communism did not result in ideal conditions for his people. After all, there was no majority vote for who would become president there.  Huh?  Oh, yeah, that doesn't always occur here either, as Gore and Hillary discovered.  Well, there was not universal health care?  What?  Oh yeah, they do have it; we don't. But they imprison people with little rights of redress. What? Oh, yeah – we learned from their example what to do to prisoners in Guantanamo, some “detained” for decades, without charges and minimal redress.  What?  Oh, yeah, innocence is something that cannot be pled in our own habeas corpus¸ which is being ominously narrowed anyway.  But he limited his own people's fundamental rights to travel various places?  What?  Oh, yeah; until Obama acted, our own fundamental rights to travel there were aggressively violated.  Castro would make possession of things arbitrarily illegal!  What?  Oh, yeah: we can't possess Cuban cigars, machine guns, brass knuckles, nor carry sealed bottles of rare Irish Whiskey on airplanes.  Well, since those things don't help our rationalizations, we should move on.

We hated him because he was going to install missiles pointed at us; that is, he long ago was a military enemy, so that should justify an invasion of my rights to travel there and do business with Cuba.  After all, only we should be able to aim missiles at other people.  Well, and China and Russia could point them too.  At us.  So, we are prohibited from visiting those two countries too, right?  Well, no.  But Castro was a military enemy, so my right to travel there should be curtailed by my own country, in celebration of freedom, right?  Wait, that doesn't sound right.

But we should be prevented by our government from visiting our mortal enemies of the past….  But, uh, those distant-past enemies include, at various times in our past, Italy, Germany, Great Britain, France, Japan, Vietnam, Russia [whose missiles Cuba was installing], “Red” China, Cambodia, etc.  But…., we freely trade with and travel to those places!

One thing Castro did teach us is the art of racial discrimination.  Not that he discriminated against people based on race – he didn't.  But our angst against him invited discriminatory practices by us: if you are Hispanic and say you are from Mexico, you get reviled for seeking public assistance [most don't, by the way], arrested, locked up, deported, called rapists and murderers, and are quite unwelcome; if you are similarly Hispanic but say you are from Cuba, you are invited in, celebrated, given public assistance, made very welcome.  Same race; different country of origin; vastly disparate treatment.

Our perverse hatred causes us to violate things that we claim are vital and fundamental, and it makes us buffoons and hypocrites about our own supposed values.

Castro is dead; let our enmities about Cuba die too.  Maybe now we can grow up.

Michael Kennedy

Admitted to Bar, State of California, 1981 Education: Widener University, Chester, Pennsylvania (B.A., 1970) Southwestern University School of Law, Los Angeles, California (J.D., Scale, 1981) Harvard Law School, Program of Instruction for Lawyers, Cambridge, 1987

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