Cuban dictator Fidel Castro was always a figure who embodied the political ideology of uber-liberals. For the American left – whether young or old – it was always supremely cool and non-conformist to espouse solidarity with Castro’s revolution. He was a hero to the counter-culture enthusiasts of the 1960s and a best-selling lefty author like Norman Mailer much as he is to the counter-reality Millennials who now populate our colleges and universities – perhaps only Chinese butcher Mao Zedong attracted more visceral adoration from American leftists – but of course he killed more people.
As his weekend death so well illustrated, Castro continues to cast a long political shadow over the ideological landscape.
President-elect Donald Trump clearly wants Cuba to emerge from that shadow into the broad sunlight of political and economic freedom. There was nothing disingenuous about Trump’s reaction to Castro’s demise; after emphatically Tweeting “Fidel Castro is dead!”, Trump provided a more elaborate – but thankfully not more nuanced – appraisal of the tyrant’s legacy: “Fidel Castro’s legacy is one of firing squads, theft, unimaginable suffering, poverty and the denial of fundamental human rights.”
We can only exult “wonderful.” This is what Americans should expect from their leaders.
We got what we have come to expect from President Barack Obama: a listless, desultory, ambiguous and ultimately meaningless paean to political correctness delivered to the Obamanation. “We know that this moment fills Cubans – in Cuba and in the United States – with powerful emotions, recalling the countless ways in which Fidel Castro altered the course of individual lives, families, and of the Cuban nation. History will record and judge the enormous impact of this singular figure on the people and world around him.”
There is a parlance in internet-speak, know as Godwin’s law (or Godwin’s rule of Hitler analogies) that states, “As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Hitler approaches…” As much as we don’t wish to make any fallacious comparisons to Adolf Hitler or the Nazis, it is unavoidable here. For Obama’s statement might easily be cut from the present and pasted into history as an eerily politically correct reaction to Hitler, who also filled Germans with “powerful emotions” and who also “altered the course of individual lives, families and…the nation.”
Would Obama have said the same of Hitler? Of course not. But the fact that he can strain belief with his exertions to issue a statement about Castro that is vaguely approving and comprehensively non-offensive is a powerful example of the moral decay of political language. It is a vernacular that Trump has never learned and hopefully will never absorb in Washington.
Then there is the language of unapologetic approval and that defined the response from an adoring, Castro-worshiping liberal. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau could barely contain his grief and admiration for the Great Fidel. The boy king of Canada spouted off about how Castro was “remarkable” and “was a larger than life leader who served his people for almost half a century. A legendary revolutionary and orator, Mr. Castro made significant improvements to the education and healthcare of his island nation.”
Had Trudeau merely suggested that Castro had “served his people” instead of serving himself and murdering his people, that might have been enough to ignite the social media explosion that followed Trudeau’s impassioned eulogy of communist brutality. But of course he went further in his attempts to varnish Castro’s unenviable record of political repression. He even remembered how his father, Pierre Trudeau, who was prime minister of Canada for 15 unhappy years, had been a close friend and confidant of Castro and had even vacationed at the Cuban despot’s home. These are memories that most people would repress and not celebrate but given Trudeau’s embrace of the progressive double-standard, no communist strongman is too nefarious to salute upon his passing.
Trudeau’s father had done the same thing in 1976 when Chairman Mao – who outdid Hitler and Stalin in the mass murder category – went to that Red Hades in the great beyond. The elder Trudeau stood up in the Canadian parliament and lauded the Chinese peasant ruler for his “path-breaking spirit of unity.” Like father, like son.
We really need to recognize tyranny for what it is: the desire to smother the individual’s political and economic liberty with any ideology that magnifies the power and facilitates the abuses of the state, regardless of whether the justification for this violation arises from the left or the right.
Trudeau clearly is engaged in a different conversation.
Obama lacks the political clarity and moral courage to say it.
Trump gets it.
Follow David on Twitter @DavidKrayden