Fidel Castro is finally dead, and the old despot has left us with a parting gift: another demonstration of just how out of touch the American Left really is.
Barack Obama affected a tone of exquisite sensitivity: “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.”
Obama’s statement was carefully neutral: how exactly history would judge Castro, and whether he altered lives, families, and the Cuban nation for good or ill, he did not say. John Kerry was likewise reasonably measured in tone, writing of Castro and Cubans: “Over more than half a century, he played an outsized role in their lives, and he influenced the direction of regional, even global affairs.”
An outsized role for good or ill? Kerry didn’t say, either. But given the grief of other Leftist leaders, it’s likely they were restraining their affection and respect for Castro for fear of offending the sensibilities of Americans (particularly Cuban-Americans) who didn’t love him quite so much. But other Leftist leaders were not so circumspect: “In many ways,” Jesse Jackson wrote, “after 1959, the oppressed the world over joined Castro’s cause of fighting for freedom & liberation-he changed the world. RIP.” Nancy Pelosi lamented: “Fidel Castro’s death marks the end of an era. We will continue to press for the dreams of the Cuban people.”
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau hailed Castro as a “legendary revolutionary.” Jimmy Carter sounded a personal note, noting that he and Rosalynn “remember fondly our visits with him in Cuba and his love of his country.” Pope Francis called Castro’s death “sad news” and addressed the Cuban people: “I express to you my sentiments of grief.”
Exactly what was wrong with all these statements becomes clear in light of the revels in Miami, as Cuban exiles celebrated the death of the man who had destroyed the lives of so many Cubans. They don’t think Castro was a great man, or someone who had worked for the dreams of the Cuban people, and they detested his “outsized role in their lives.” One Cuban émigré declared: “Him dying represents the end of something awful that happened to us. It’s actually him — not anybody else — who caused this. It’s because of him that we lost our opportunity to have a life in our country.” Another added: “He died, but his brother is still there, the government is still there, it’s still the oppressive government.”
The Cubans in Miami should have been pleased with the statements of President-elect Donald Trump. Trump called Castro “a brutal dictator who oppressed his own people for nearly six decades” and noted that his legacy was “one of firing squads, theft, unimaginable suffering, poverty and the denial of fundamental human rights.”
Trump added: “While Cuba remains a totalitarian island, it is my hope that today marks a move away from the horrors endured for too long, and toward a future in which the wonderful Cuban people finally live in the freedom they so richly deserve. Through the tragedies, deaths and pain caused by Fidel Castro cannot be erased, our administration will do all it can to ensure the Cuban people can finally begin their journey toward prosperity and liberty.”
Trump and those who are celebrating in Miami know what Fidel Castro really was, and what he actually did and represented. The Leftist intelligentsia, by contrast, is once again tone-deaf and unseemly in its regard for authoritarians, totalitarians, oppressors, and dictatorial butchers. It is fitting, in a certain sense, that Castro has died before Trump actually takes office: his death represents, like the defeat of Hillary Clinton (barring recount chicanery that lands her in the White House after all), the end of an era. The Leftist hegemony over American culture, and its self-appointed role as the guardian of acceptable opinion, is crumbling.
It doesn’t matter how many times Jimmy Carter and Jesse Jackson and the like tell us that Fidel Castro was a towering figure of history: we agree already that he will be remembered, but he will be remembered for the bloodthirsty tyrant he was. But increasing numbers of the American people no longer believe that such people and other Leftist icons have any moral authority to tell us about anything, just as so many Cubans have for decades seen through Castro’s Communist pieties. Reality cannot be forcibly suppressed forever, no matter how fine the words are that try to distract us away from seeing it. The people celebrating in Miami this weekend, and the election of Donald Trump, are indications of that.
Robert Spencer is the director of Jihad Watch and author of the New York Times bestsellers The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades) and The Truth About Muhammad. His latest book is The Complete Infidel’s Guide to Iran.