Monday, August 31, 2009

A Conspiracy of Ignorance

The recent comments of Rep. Diane Watson (D-CA33) praising Fidel Castro and Che Guevara would be humorous if she weren't being serious and if she wasn't a sitting member of the House of Representatives (the most liberal member of Congress according to the National Journal). Rep. Watson isn't uneducated -- she has a Ph.D. from Claremont -- and by all appearances actually believes what she's dishing out (a liberal academic from California idealizing socialism/communism is hardly news), but sadly many of those hearing her praise of life in the island paradise are ignorant of the actions of those whom she praises either because they haven't bothered to learn the facts or because they are so far removed from said facts.

Che Guevara, the nice young revolutionary boy who kicked those rich people out of power and then tapped Fidel -- one of the brightest leaders she's ever met --for leadership was a thug who oversaw the summary executions of as many as as many of two thousand people during his five month tenure in 1959. Che's brutality is well documented and went well beyond meting out justice or military necessity -- he actually enjoyed it and reveled in it.

Fidel Castro, upon whom Rep. Watson heaps such praise has led Cuba into poverty and repression with severe restrictions on religion, expression, and free assembly. Dissidents are tortured and one does not speak out against the government. He has succeeded in taking Cuba's standard of living from near-US conditions prior to the Revolution to a nation beset by poverty for all but the communist elite with malnutrition found in many places following the removal of Soviet subsidies in1991 -- but they do have nationalized health care (albeit with no right to privacy, informed consent, or ability to seek redress for malpractice [tort reform?]! One only hopes this isn't the Democrats' vision for a new America!

Rep. Watson, born in 1933, is old enough to know better, but sadly many of those listening to her will accept her praise of Castro without bothering to check out the facts. Several weeks ago Beloit College released its annual Mindset List for this year's college freshman class. Among the interesting experiences of the class of 2013 is the fact that, for them, the KGB has never existed. The Cold War is to them as Vietnam was to me; Vietnam is functionally World War II and World War II is the equivalent of World War I for my generation! What does all of this mean? It means that through no fault of their own they and many other Americans are ignorant of the horrors of Communism and sadly apt to swallow attempts to introduce socialism here in the United States hook, line, and sinker.

About a month ago I was enjoying my pipe and a beer with friends at the Smoking Lamp here in Charleston. It was a pleasant summer evening and the conversation was enjoyable when I looked up and saw a young man sporting a Che t-shirt. I'm aware that such fashion statements are popular in other parts of the country but, thankfully, they aren't often seen here in the Holy City. I was tempted to ask the young man wearing it if he was aware of whom he was sporting on his shirt (my guess is that he wasn't), but he got out of the smoke shop before I could do so. When we've reached the point where young adults sport the image of a murderer because they think he looks cool, we're in dire straights indeed!

While conspiracy theories are interesting, I don't generally buy into them. I don't necessarily think that there's any secret movement in which "they" are trying to transform us into a socialist state because I don't think that they need to do so in secret. Time and apathy have blinded large sections of the populace to the magnitude of the horrors of Communism, making them ripe for heading down exactly the same path. We who love liberty need to engage in education if that is to be avoided.

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