If Hitler had retired as Führer before 1939, what would the reaction of the Western media have been to his decision? Not much different, we suppose, to their reaction to Castro's "retirement" as Cuba's president-for-life. An effort would have been made to create "balance" in a record that overwhelmingly tilted morally and materially to one side: the solution of mass unemployment would be weighed against the material losses of Krystalnacht; the revitalization of Germany's economy would offset the annexation of the Sudetenland; incentives for new mothers would compensate for the sterilization of mental and physical "defectives." And what would balance Hitler's predations on human liberty and humanity iself? The promised Volkswagons? The Autobahn? The 1936 Olympics? Guns? Butter? The German "New Man?"
At least those who tried to exculpate or justify Hitler in the 1930s were not unopposed in their propaganda. There was a formidable press dedicated to denouncing Herr Hitler's crimes as then known. Unfortunately, it was the same press that extolled Stalin's crimes and ceased to condemn Hitler's when the two briefly became allies.
It was, in short, a time of partisan morality, reprehensible, certainly, but not more so than the present era of moral relativism. The media now recoils at condemning tyrants for their crimes as if their own objectivity were judged by their subjectivity to them. When forced to mention those crimes the media characterize them as allegations made by the tyrant's detractors. But their so-called achievements are never identified as the allegations of their apologists.
In Castro's case it is the infant mortality and literacy rates which are the counterweights used in his favor (though Cuba ranked higher in those areas in respect to other countries in 1958 than it does in 2008). There is one thing about Castro that should be highlighted above all else but which is never even mentioned. It is his place as the Western Hemisphere's most notorious mass murderer. Even if all that his supporters allege on his behalf were true, even if the Cuban people had prospered rather than been brought to ruin under his rule, even if human rights and Rule of Law had been respected rather than trampled underfoot every day of the last 49 years, none of it should matter or excuse the fact that Fidel Castro's name was writ large on history's pages with the blood of his countrymen.
On another blog I once demonstrated that Castro had killed more Cubans proportionately than Hitler killed Germans.¶ Many found this comparison objectionable as if to affirm one thing were to deny the other. And yet the facts are what they are. Having ruled four times as long as Hitler, and though he murdered on a smaller canvas, Castro has nonetheless managed to surpass the greatest incarnation of evil that humanity has ever known (there have been greater, of course, Stalin and Mao, for example, but their evil is apparently beyond the comprehension or condemnation of most Westerners).
Only when, as in Hitler's case, it becomes in bad taste even to suggest that there was anything that Castro did for his people that might excuse his bloodlust, then, and only then, will the apologias stop and the mea culpas begin. Obviously, after nearly 50 years, that point has not been reached yet.
The media and the world will get another chance to get it right when Fidel Castro dies.
¶ According to the census of June 1933, the Jewish population of Germany consisted of 505,000 people. Jews represented less than 1 percent of the total German population of 67 million. Approximately 300,000 German Jews managed to escape before the Holocaust. Of the remaining 205,000, 170,000 were killed in the Holocaust. (Source: The Holocaust Encyclopedia).
The Cuban Archive Project has identified and documented 102,000 Cubans killed by Castro (and this number, of course, is always growing).
Hitler killed 170,000 German Jews relative to a total German population of 67 million in 1933 (when he took over). Castro has killed 102,000 Cubans out of a total population of 6.6 million (when he took over in 1959).
Proportionally, Castro has killed 7 times more Cubans than Hitler did German Jews. Even if we relate Castro’s killings to the current Cuban population (11 million), he has still killed 4 times as many Cubans than Hitler killed German Jews.
Moreover, if all the European Jews killed by Hitler (6 million) in all countries to which he extended the Holocaust are taken as a percentage of the total population of Europe, Castro has still killed more Cubans per capita than Hitler killed Jews.
As bad as Hitler? No, worse.