Even in death, Cas­tro still has ‘use­ful id­iots’

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - OPINION - Jonah Gold­berg The Na­tional Re­view Jonah Gold­berg is syndicated by Tri­bune Me­dia Ser­vices.

Fidel Cas­tro died as he lived: to the sound of use­ful id­iots mak­ing al­lowances for his crimes. (That’s not my term: It was Lenin who called lib­eral apol­o­gists for Com­mu­nism “use­ful id­iots.”)

The gold medal in the Use­ful Idiot Olympics should prob­a­bly go to Justin Trudeau, the prime min­is­ter of Canada. In a state­ment, he ex­pressed his “deep sor­row” upon learn­ing that “Cuba’s long­est serv­ing pres­i­dent” had died.

One can only imag­ine what Ge­orge Or­well could do with that one word, “serv­ing.” Cas­tro did not serve; he ruled a na­tion of ser­vants, of­ten cru­elly, while mak­ing ob­scene prof­its for him­self and his fam­ily.

“Fidel Cas­tro was a larger than life leader who served his peo­ple for almost half a cen­tury,” Trudeau con­tin­ued, re­peat­ing that word. “While a con­tro­ver­sial fig­ure, both Mr. Cas­tro’s sup­port­ers and de­trac­tors rec­og­nized his tremen­dous ded­i­ca­tion and love for the Cuban peo­ple who had a deep and last­ing af­fec­tion for ‘el Co­man­dante.’”

Again, where is Or­well’s red pen?

“El Co­man­dante”: The term drips with af­fec­tion, doesn’t it? Cas­tro’s “de­trac­tors”? Would those be the fam­i­lies of the thou­sands he had ex­e­cuted? The sur­vivors of Cas­tro’s Caribbean gu­lag? Those who didn’t drown try­ing to es­cape?

Trudeau’s ex­pres­sion of “deep sor­row” was typ­i­cal of a whole genre of Cas­tro eu­lo­gies. His apol­o­gists have tended to ro­man­ti­cize the “rev­o­lu­tion” and par­rot du­bi­ous Cuban state pro­pa­ganda — Lit­er­acy rates! Free health care! — while dis­pens­ing an­ti­sep­tic eu­phemisms for the bru­tal re­al­ity of what the rev­o­lu­tion wrought.

At least when peo­ple note that Hitler built the au­to­bahn and Mus­solini made the trains run on time, they’re usu­ally be­ing ironic. To lis­ten to some Cas­tro de­fend­ers, you’d think the scales of jus­tice can bal­ance out any load of hor­rors, so long as the sub­stan­dard health care is free and the schools (al­legedly) teach ev­ery­one to read.

As much of the Amer­i­can left is openly moot­ing whether or not the Amer­i­can pres­i­dent-elect is a dic­ta­tor-in-wait­ing, one has to won­der whether they would take that bar­gain: No more elec­tions, no more free speech, no more civil lib­er­ties of any kind, but so­cial­ized medicine and lit­er­acy for ev­ery­one! Amer­i­can po­lit­i­cal dis­si­dents, ho­mo­sex­u­als, jour­nal­ists and the clergy, just like in Cuba, can lan­guish in prison or in­ter­nal ex­ile, but at least they’ll be able to read the charges against them.

Such un­nu­anced ar­gu­ments al­ways make leftist eyes roll. In a blog post ti­tled “Cas­tro: It’s Com­pli­cated!” Univer­sity of Rhode Is­land pro­fes­sor Eric Loomis cau­tioned against think­ing “in terms of sim­plis­tic moral judg­ments.” It seems to me that when peo­ple want to ban sim­plis­tic moral judg­ments, it’s usu­ally be­cause sim­ple moral­ity is not on their side.

Here’s my Fox News col­league Ger­aldo Rivera on Twit­ter: “Con­ser­va­tives mock­ing nu­anced view of #FidelCas­tro make me gag. What do they say about @re­alDon­aldTrump? #Ron­aldRea­gan? RichardNixon? #Elvis?”

Or­well’s red pen is too good for such asinin­ity. Lest there is some­thing I don’t know about Elvis, none of th­ese fig­ures were bru­tal un­elected despots re­spon­si­ble for the mur­der of their own peo­ple (10 times as many deaths as those cred­ited to Chilean dic­ta­tor Au­gusto Pinochet).

One hint as to why Rivera and so many oth­ers were smit­ten with Cas­tro: He was an in­ter­na­tional celebrity. Rivera even tweeted a pic­ture of him­self grin­ning broadly in “el Co­man­dante’s” pres­ence along with his con­do­lences. “RIP #FidelCas­tro Yes, a despot who ruth­lessly sup­pressed dis­si­dents. But he de­feated a dic­ta­tor & was the premier rev­o­lu­tion­ary of his time.”

“Premier rev­o­lu­tion­ary of his time.” It’s as if Rivera thinks this ti­tle pro­vides moral cover. This is the think­ing that al­lows vac­u­ous hip­sters to un­self­con­sciously shrug when you tell them that the Che Gue­vara on their T-shirt was a sadis­tic mur­derer. “Yeah, but he was cool.”

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