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by Peter Moskos

April 10, 2012

Ozzie and Me and Fidel Makes Three

When the P.C. Police come knocking (and I'm not talking about "probable cause"), they usually come from the left. But not always. In Ozzie Guillen's case, the Politically Correct Police are coming from the right. Such is life in Florida, particularly Cuban southern Florida.

Baseball manager Guillen was quoted as saying (in Spanish, I believe):
I love Fidel Castro... I respect Fidel Castro. You know why? A lot of people have wanted to kill Fidel Castro for the last 60 years, but that mother f*cker is still here.
I respect Fidel for the same reason. That S.O.B. has outlasted ten U.S. presents. Obama is his eleventh. Say what you want, Fidel has cojones. (And you think we'd be smart enough to figure out by now that perhaps if we really wanted to get rid of Fidel, perhaps sanctions are not the most effective way. Craaaazy thought, I know. Why would we ever admit we do anything wrong after just decades of failure? And US sanctions do hurt innocent Cubans.)

Fidel is the underdog, and it's hard not to root for the underdog. I root for the Cubs, about which Guillen once said, "Our [White Sox] Fans are not stupid like the Cub fans." But I got over it.

I didn't think it was a crime to love Fidel Castro. If so, a lot of liberals and academics would be in prison. (Not me, mind you. I had too many relatives suffer under communist Albania to fall for that crap.)

I've actually been to Cuba (December 1996, I think), and well, it was what it was. Cuba certainly could be a lot better, but it's not like it's all bad. Objectively, it was probably the worst "vacation" I've ever been on: it was surprisingly expensive (three types of currency were in use); off the main tourist path, food wasn't the easiest to come by; the scale and constant presence of prostitution was annoying and depressing. But it wasn't all bad. People were dancing in the streets. We met a nice Rasta on the way to Santiago de Cuba who took us under his wing (thus keeping all the other touts away). And the Cubans do appreciate a good game of chess. In fact, in public, playing chess the one surefire way to keep the whores and hustlers at bay.

Besides, it's not like our dictators have done so much better. And to compare Castro to Hitler (as some who are attacking Guillen are doing) is absurd. Mostly, Cuba was just a bit anti-climactic. It wasn't like going to Albania or even East Germany. Once you're there, you realize it's only the US that makes it such a big deal. Everybody else is free to visit.

I suspect that Guillen's "love" of Fidel is lot less than what comes from most liberals and academics in the US and around the world. But I don't even think Guillen even loves Fidel. It's not like he wants to make out with him. Reminds me of Sarah Silverman, who has a character, kind of like Guillen (described as a "harmless lump prone to adorably offending everyone around her") who apologies for using the word "gay": "I'm sorry, you guys, I don't mean gay like homosexual. I mean gay like retarded."

Oh, what's that knock on my door?

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Careful about the gay thing around Fidel - he put a lot of people in prison for being gay, you know.
Maybe "respect" is too broad a word.
And when you have to compare a dictator to other dictators to defend yourself, unprovoked, you should realize the poor ground you're standing on.

PCM said...

Castro puts people in prison for being gay. He puts people in prison for being journalists. He puts people in prison for not not wanting him in power. I respect none of that. But it is the M.O. for your average dictator.

Maybe I should say I respect his Machiavellian ability to stay in power. But what is the word? It's certainly not admire. Though I do admire some of what he's done. His people do have good education and decent health care (simply judged by life expediency, which is equal to the US). Does that make up for all the bad things he's done? Probably not. But it may mitigate them.

Castro also hasn't literally and personally robbed his country of billions of dollars. Complimenting a dictator for not being a thief (leaving aside the nationalization issues) is perhaps setting the bar too low. But it's worth something.

But I do not write to defend Castro. I write to defend Ozzie Guillen. He expressed an opinion and said nothing worth of punishment, suspension, or job loss. But then if politics in Florida were normal, we would have no embargo and Fidel would have been out of office a long time ago.

Anonymous said...

You wrote to defend Ozzie but you end up trying to minimize the offenses of a dictator. Unrelated and unnecessary.
Before he came to power Cuba was much wealthier in the relative world rankings. He may not be putting billions in his own pocket but he has impoverished "his" people by stealing their freedoms to develop.
We can appreciate his alligator blood but the word respect implies more than that!
Yes, the embargo should be tossed aside ASAP.