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OPINION

Grammy Winner Bonnie Raitt—Hypocrite Extraordinaire

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Gerald Herbert

“When Bonnie Raitt won the award for Song of the Year at the 2023 Grammys on Sunday night for her track Just Like That,” The Daily Mail reports this week, “some were shocked that the accolade went to the 73-year-old folk singer - over huge artists like Taylor Swift, Lizzo, Harry Styles, Beyonce and Adele, who were also nominated for the category.”

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Much less shocking, given Raitt’s social and political milieu, is this rock and roller’s propaganda ministrations for the only regime in the modern history of the Western Hemisphere to criminalize rock & roll and herd its practitioners and fans into forced-labor camps.

You see, amigos: Back in March of 1999, Bonnie Raitt was among the top acts of a celebrity-studded propaganda extravaganza for Stalinist Cuba titled “Music Bridges Over Troubled Waters." During her visit to the Castro-Family-Fiefdom, Raitt stopped hyperventilating just long enough to compose a song in Fidel Castro's honor titled, "Cuba Is Way Too Cool!" Among the lyrics: "It's just a happy little island!" and "Big bad wolf (the U.S.) you look the FOOL!" 

With Woody Harrelson gyrating drunkenly beside her, the rapidly oxidizing chanteuse, she of the big red hair and the famous gray roots, rasped out her ditty at Havana's Karl Marx theater. "Rock Against Freedom" sounds much better to me. A beaming, waving Jimmy Buffet came on after Bonnie. 

Then came Joane Osborne. R.E.M's Peter Buck, former Police’s Andy Summers and Stuart Copeland all made the groovy scene and took the stage in turn. In between crooning and strumming, these cheeky free-spirits all dutifully recited their propaganda scripts against the U.S. "embargo."   

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Against South Africa a decade earlier, of course, their script called FOR an embargo. 

A crowd of 5000 Cubans huddled before them, swaying and clapping. All were Cuban Communist Party members and their families. Let's step back and contemplate the scene: here's these troubadours for human rights, here's the same smarmy gang who boycotted South Africa ("I Ain't Gonna Play Sun City!" thundered Bonnie Raitt herself alongside Bruce Springsteen, Bono, Darryl Hall and scores of similar political imbeciles on the 1985 recording titled, "Artists United Against Apartheid.") 

But she'll GLADLY play in Havana's Karl Marx theater and bask in the applause of an audience pledging proud fealty to the most murderous ideology in human history. Indeed she'll happily compose a song in their honor—and all on the house! 

Here's Bonnie and other shrill foes of capital punishment happily crooning lovesongs to card-carrying members (literally!) of an ideology whose minions shot, starved, strangled, drowned, hacked and worked to death 100 million human beings in the 20th century. According to the late researcher Dr. Armando Lago, many in Bonnie and Jimmy's very audience had a hand in 110,000 of these murders. Here's these do-gooders playing (free-of-charge) because of an invitation from Stalinists! 

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These musical hipsters composed gushy odes to coolness and happiness of a nation with the highest (youth) emigration, incarceration and suicide rates on the face of the globe. 

When Cuba's suicide rate reached 24 per thousand in 1986—making it double Latin America's average, making it triple Cuba's pre-Castro rate, making Cuban women the most suicidal in the world, making death by suicide the primary cause of death for Cubans aged 15-48—at that point the Cuban government ceased publishing the statistics on the self-slaughter. The figures became state secrets. The implications horrified even the Castroites. 

But apparently not Diane Sawyer or Barbara Walters. When in his charming presence, neither of these feminists could keep from bursting into those toothy smiles and throwing their arms around the man who drove more women to end their lives than anyone in the world. 

Cuba also has the world's highest (or third highest, depending on the source) abortion rate. I say there's a relationship with the suicide rate. They both smack of hopelessness and despair. 

In Castroland, Jimmy Buffet and Bonnie Raitt proudly authored paeans to the coolness and happiness of a place that also criminalized Beatles' and Rolling Stones' records—where long hair, blue jeans, and/or effeminate behavior got thousands of youths yanked off the streets by secret police and dumped in concentration camps with "Work Will Make Men Out of You," in bold letters above the gate and with machine gunners posted on the watchtowers. The initials for these camps were UMAP, not GULAG. But the conditions were identical. 

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Much "wasting away" within their barbed wire, Mr Buffet. But not from Margaritas. Slave labor, disease, malnutrition, beatings, torture and hunger strikes caused the "wasting way." Stepping on pop-tops is no fun, I agree, Mr Buffet. But neither is being bludgeoned to death with the blunt end of bayonets, a pastime much indulged by your charming Castroite hosts. Armando Valladares provides harrowing details of scores of such deaths in his “Against All Hope.” 

The blight is also known as Castroism, and is also known as inspiration for happy little jingles by Bonnie Raitt.

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