“In a ceremony Monday [May, 9] at Miami’s iconic Freedom Tower, where tens of thousands of Cuban immigrants fleeing Fidel Castro’s revolution were admitted into the US between 1962 and 1974, DeSantis signed into law House Bill 395, designating 7 November as Victims of Communism Day,” reports The Guardian.
“You can see at a college campus students flying the hammer and sickle from the old Soviet Union flag, you will see students that will have T-shirts with Che Guevara, you will see students that will idolize people like Mao Zedong,” DeSantis said. “To me, this speaks of a tremendous ignorance about what those individuals represented and the evils that communism.”
“Florida is one of a handful of states to adopt the designation,” continues The Guardian.”But is believed to be the first to mandate school instruction on that day….The instruction will begin in the 2023-2024 school year, DeSantis said, and will require teaching about Joseph Stalin, Mao Zedong and Fidel Castro, as well as 'poverty, starvation, migration, systemic lethal violence, and suppression of speech' endured under their leaderships.”
Naturally, while reporting the item, the leftist Guardian is snidely pooh-poohing it, as does the Washington Post. “Some opponents argue that although the trauma suffered by victims of communism, particularly in Cuba, are real, DeSantis’s motives are not…He continues to ignite culture wars under the guise of fighting ‘communism’ while embodying the same authoritarian power grabs we are all too familiar with,” one activist tweeted. “Others say the governor should turn his attention to the issues in his state.”
Ah, if only this “tremendous ignorance” of Communist dictators and assassins were confined to grungy college students and their professors. For a shining example of this “tremendous ignorance,” especially regarding the Cuban revolution, let’s turn—not to The Village Voice, Rolling Stone, The Nation, Mother Jones or The New Statesman—but to the Guardian’s stately compatriot The London Times, widely regarded as among the world’s most respectable newspapers.
"Fidel Castro can look back on some unquestionable achievements," starts a London Times article from back in August 2006, when Castro first got critically ill and many publications were issuing what they thought were epitaphs. "For a start he has defied the world's most powerful nation, just 90 miles from his shores, and lived to tell the tale."
No discourse or screed about Castro – in any language, from any medium, from any point on the political compass – omits this cliché. Let's look at this historical record of "defiance."
"We put Castro in power," flatly stated former U.S. Ambassador to Cuba Earl T. Smith during congressional testimony in 1960. He was referring to the U.S. State Department and CIA's role in aiding the Castro rebels, also to the U.S. arms embargo on Batista, also to the official U.S. order that Batista vacate Cuba. Ambassador Smith knew something about these events because he had personally delivered the messages to Batista.
Castro's "defiance" of the U.S. at the time is also evident from CIA disclosures: "Me and my staff were all Fidelistas," boasted Robert Reynolds, the CIA's Caribbean Desk "specialist on the Cuban Revolution" from 1957 to 1960.
"During the 1980s," continues the Times editorial, "one could still conceivably argue that Cuba's dictatorship was preferable to its US-backed counterparts in Chile, Argentina, Nicaragua or El Salvador, which went one step farther (italics mine) by murdering thousands of their citizens."
Here one blinks, looks again – and gapes. “Went one step farther,” got it, amigos? Forget for a second that none of those regimes abolished private property, free travel, free speech. None abolished free enterprise and mandated food rations for its subjects. None set up government snitch groups on every city block. Forget that far from being "US-backed counterparts," Pinochet's Chile and Somoza's Nicaragua had economic sanctions slapped on them by Jimmy Carter. Forget the peripheral ignorance; let's look at the central stupidity.
You long to believe otherwise, you grope for an extenuation, you hope you misread – but it's inescapable: The editorial staff of perhaps the world's most prestigious newspaper was unaware that Castro's regime killed people.
Yet Castro's murder tally is (and was) not difficult to dig up. No need to consult the ravings of some "crackpot" scandal sheet in Miami. Simply open "The Black Book of Communism," written by French scholars and published in English by Harvard University Press, neither an outpost of the vast right-wing conspiracy nor of Miami maniacs. Here you'll find a tally of 17,000 Castroite murders by firing squad. "The facts and figures are irrefutable. No one will any longer be able to claim ignorance or uncertainty about the criminal nature of Communism," wrote the New York Times (no less!) about "The Black Book of Communism."
"[The Black Book of Communism's] cumulative impact is overwhelming," said a review in a prestigious newspaper named the London Times! So, according to a scholarly work that received gushy reviews in the London Times itself, Castro's regime almost quintupled the alleged murder rate of Pinochet's (3,000.) And this refers only to Communist Cuba's firing-squad murders.
The Cuba Archive project, headed by scholars Maria Werlau and the late Armando Lago, once put the death toll from Castro's regime, including deaths at sea and the desperate anti-Communist insurgency of the early '60s, at close to 90,000. This project was lauded by everyone from the Miami Herald (again, no right-wing outpost) to the Wall Street Journal. The mind reels at the London Times' ignorance until you note that such ignorance is practically universal on matters Cuban.