Christian Schneider, a Wisconsin pundit with whom I unfortunately share a surname, penned a screed against romanticizing Fidel Castro in the wake of his death. A Facebook friend of Cuban origin called Schneider’s take “perceptive.”
I, being a contrarian, offer an alternative view:
TL;DR summary: I wish life were so easily black and white. We are in grave danger when we think, and pretend, it is. Schneider’s piece lacks any sense of self-awareness or humility.
Let me first say I’m no fan of Castro’s repressive, murderous actions. Any more than I am a fan of Obama’s drone war; or Bush’s invasion of Iraq; or the use of dogs, water cannon and rubber bullets at Standing Rock; or the unlimited NSA wire tapping revealed by Edward Snowden; or use of torture as a legitimate tool in our diplomatic doctors’ kit; or…any of the hundreds of foreign policy choices we could review indicating that the U.S. is not some bastion of moral purity from which to judge dictators.
I’ve long ago lost the certainty that all American actions are good simply because they’re American; hence, I tend to disregard claims that all of a repressive country’s actions/results are bad just because they are led by a dictator (especially when mouthed by a writer who so desperately clings to the former notion that everything “USA” is perfect.).
This stance makes me an enemy of the state in a Trump Presidency.
Dictator/Nation Facebook Relationship Status: It’s complicated.
Christian Schneider isn’t so much “perceptive” as “selective”. He is willing to grasp on to ANY topic and claim it proves his pre-existing position. He’s consistently hard-line pro-Christian, pro-Capitalism, and does not acknowledge any errors arising from either of those camps. I’ve been reading him for over 10 years.
I agree with some points he makes, and I disagree with others where he dismisses positives (literacy and Cuban doctors) as either not worth really examining (anomalies) or because they undermine his thesis.
This is roughly the equivalent of a researcher hiding evidence in a study, in order to arrive at the conclusion which the study’s pharmaceutical-company-funder wants it to arrive.
That’s pernicious, when we need judicious. It is false.
America is the melting pot… of people and ideas. We’re willing to acknowledge and absorb the “best practices” of horrendous dictators when we want to. Let’s take Werner von Braun, and 88 other Nazi rocket scientists brought to America immediately after Germany surrendered; Nazi rocket scientists who made the American space program and missile programs possible. Does that mean America liked Hitler?
But maybe we’re only capable of absorbing those dictatorial achievements that allow us to enlarge our military dominance, or which consolidate capital? Far be it from the U.S. To take a serious look at the means by which Castro achieved high literacy rates and high quality medical programs. 🙄. Eeewwwww! Who wants those icky things? That just makes healthy, smart voters. We don’t need more of them. They might agitate against for-profit prison systems, bloated military budgets, underfunded veterans health care, or (shudder!) for things that might support a thriving middle class?
Acknowledging Cuba’s successes under Castro does not mean we have to swallow Castro whole. Castro is a mixed bag, leaning heavily toward dictatorial abuses that we should be proud to NOT condone. Likewise, acknowledging abuses by America does not mean one “hates the USA!” But I wish Americans like “Christian” Schneider could see the beam in their own eye before wholesale condemning everything Cuban just because Castro is not a capitalist. Christian Schneider ought not pretend America occupies some moral high ground when judging Castro’s legacy.