Thursday, October 11, 2007

Social Progress Under Castro: The Lie that Will Not Die

I remember when The The New York Times published a story in the mid-Sixties about how Fidel Castro had saved the Spanish language from extinction in Cuba. According to the writer, before the Revolution Cubans spoke a patois similar to Haitian which made works written in correct Castilian inaccessible to most Cubans. This explained, too, why books weren't published in Cuba before 1959, well, that and the fact that most Cubans were illiterate before the Revolution changed that too. Castro's oratory, according to The Times, had restored the purity of Spanish in Cuba and made Cuban literature accessible to the masses for the first time. Supposedly, Cubans would sit by their radios practicing the cadences of Fidel's speech and absorbing his universal culture. The man, in sum, had been a one man rennaisance who, in less than ten years, had ended the Dark Ages in Cuba.

Then there was the article in The Village Voice in the late 70s which purported that before the Revolution it was customary for Cuban women to kill themselves after the deaths of their husbands or if they were abandoned by them, and that their favorite method of self-immolation was setting themselves on fire. Cuba's Socialist Constitution (1975), which required men to help with the housework and child-rearing, had supposedly cured them of this centuries-old habit.

The point: no lie is too big for an American journalist to believe especially if vouchsafed by the heralds of the future: "I have seen the future and it works," declared the famous American muckraker Lincoln Steffins upon his return from a tour of the Soviet Union in the 1930s. The legendary American muckraker became a muckswallower in the rarefied atmosphere of the Soviet Union. His heirs in the mainstream media upheld to the very day of its collapse the same specious lies about social progress that Steffins and his ilk had foisted on the American public since the beginning of the Russian Revolution.

By the time Cuba was betrayed into the Soviet camp, the lies had already been well-rehearsed for more than 40 years and with only a few modifications were applied to the new Communist paragon. Most American reporters and editors had never seen Czarist Russia, but a majority were acquainted with pre-Castro Cuba. This did not constrain them, however, from believing the lies that Castro and his agents spoonfed them even if the lies contradicted their firsthand experience. Nor did the overwhelming statistical evidence to the contrary alert them to the fact that they were being duped and turned from journalists into propagandists for the regime. Many, like Herbert Matthews, just didn't care. As the lies were repeated by successive generations of reporters, one depending on the authority of his predecessor and strenthening that authority by invoking it, the lies became fully "documented" by citation and part of the received standard record from which all drew their "facts" and opinions.

I know because I have challenged those lies for decades whenever I was afforded the opportunity, which, of course, was not often. In The Wall Street Journal, The Detroit News, The San Diego Union, and a dozen other newspapers that I don't even remember anymore, on the 20th, the 25th, the 30th, the 35th anniversaries of the Revolution, which was the only time that I could be sure an article on Cuba would be deemed topical and published, I have exploded the myth of social progress under Castro time and time again. More authoritative voices than mine, such as the late Jeanne Kirkpatrick and Lord Hugh Thomas, all tried to push back the Communist juggernaut of lies, pulled by its trusty agents of influence in the MSM, without ever succeeding in overturning it. Castro's apologists had spread the manure far and wide and before one could even tell the truth it was necessary to sweep clean the accumulated excrementa which blocked every access to the truth. I came to doubt whether that was even possible, as did, I suppose, most critics of Castro in the 1970s and 1980s (before that I don't know what there were any critics of Castro in the MSM). The first to make a direct hit at the regime was the late Nestor Almendros, who exposed in his documentary Improper Conduct Castro's persecution of Cuba's gays. This was something that liberals could not ignore or condone, although most found ways to blame the Cuban people rather than the regime for it. To me, at least, it seemed then that the MSM would never believe the truth about Communist Cuba until a Cuban Khruschev denounced the Cuban Stalin. I am still of that opinion.

The brave and noble attempts which have lately been made to diffuse the truth about health care in Castro's Cuba over network television, though gratifying and important for the historical record, will not alter the present state of affairs because the MSM are too vested in the lie. It's not so much any more that they want to protect the regime as it is that their credibility is tied to the lie. Nearly 50 years of reiterating and expounding on that lie, and, what is worse, dismissing all evidence to the contrary, has placed the MSM in the peculiar position of either defending the lie or denouncing themselves for having perpetrated it for half a century. We are confident that they will never admit, publicly, that being Castro's unquestioning stooges is the mainstream media's longest ongoing tradition, which shows no signs of lapsing any time soon.

3 comments:

Charlie Bravo said...

No hay peor ciego que el que no quiere ver.
There's no worse blind than he who choses not to see.
The old maxim was never truer.

Cari said...

Manuel:

I hate to say this because this is not an excuse to feel sorry for myself or my people...but inherent in all of these lies and in those who believe them is a deep seeded bigotry and hatred.

The people who choose to believe this, even when faced with so much information to the contrary, do so because they want to be able to feel superior to all of us poor fools. They believe that we need a strong man to control us and that we don't deserve what they hold dear for themselves. Democracy and Freedom are ideals that don't need to be applied to the uncouth Indians in Cuba.

Vana said...

The lies of the MSN is unbelievable where Cuba is concerned, I remember being taught Castillian in school, and speaking it at home, where do they get off with those lies? the sad thing is American readers believe it!