President Obama Has ‘Shaken Off’ The Lessons of 1989

REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch

Emily Jashinsky Program Officer, Young America’s Foundation
Font Size:

To most millennials, the year 1989 has a special significance. Among Americans my age, the year is primarily known for giving us Taylor Swift. But 26 years ago today, the year 1989 was cemented in history as a critical turning point in world history.  

Today marks the 26th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. Though, as we appear to have forgotten, the communist ideas that inspired the erection of that infamous barrier did not collapse in 1989 along with it. In fact, less than 100 miles away from American soil, people continue to suffer under communist rule — and our president doesn’t seem to care.

Given recent developments in our relationship with the Cuban government, including July’s reopening of the Cuban embassy, this particular anniversary of the Berlin Wall’s collapse should be especially meaningful.

The fall of the Wall physically and politically freed thousands of Germans from the clenched fist of a communist regime. As the wall was torn to the ground, television cameras captured the unadulterated joy of the German people, crying and shouting and laughing, utterly grateful for their first taste of freedom in decades.

If only our friends in Cuba could experience that same taste.

Instead, the Obama administration is actively working to thaw the United States’ relationship with Cuba, a process that fails to adequately address the country’s ongoing record of human rights abuses.

In Cuba, there is no first amendment. The regime has imprisoned political dissidents. Average citizens cannot openly criticize their government without threat of being targeted and locked away by tyrants. Basic human rights are not available to the Cuban people, and the Obama administration is only making it worse.

Since President Obama announced his intentions to reestablish diplomatic relations with Cuba last December, anti-Castro beatings and detentions are reportedly on the rise. Repression of dissidents is not improving, but worsening.

On the heels of that announcement, Cuban American Congressman Alex Mooney, whose mother fled the Castro regime, remarked, “Once Cuba embraces basic freedoms and democracies and gives rights to their folks, those are things to be considered.”

Mooney continued, “The problem is, once again, Barack Obama is unilaterally just giving Communists, like he has in other areas, not standing up to them, just giving them special privileges.”

Global communism did not crumble to the ground that day in 1989. It was a beautiful moment for the German people, a crowning achievement for world leaders like Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher, and a fatal blow to the Iron Curtain.

But on this anniversary we must reflect on the happiness those television cameras captured on the faces of the German people as they chipped away at the Wall and ask ourselves, what are we doing to bring that long-awaited freedom from oppression to the people of Cuba?

The lessons of 1989 should not be shaken off, a tip President Obama appears to have gotten from Taylor Swift. We must never forget the pain people endured for decades behind that Wall, and see their pain in the silence of the people who suffer today just 90 miles south of our border.