Babalu's fifth anniversary deserved no better of its Founding Editor than a post with the single word: "Wow." Can there be a clearer definition of "I don't give a damn?"
Before Val became the Val that we all know today, with his pressure cooker and his rivers of blood, his suppression of dissent and of dissenters, his pomposity and self-absorption, there was another Val, a humble guy who set for himself a big mission, to "create an island on the net without a bearded dictator," dedicated to exposing Castro's misdeeds and defending his victims. He was not the first Cuban-American blogger. But his blog was the first serious and successful attempt to challenge the monopoly which leftists held over the Cuban debate on the blogosphere. Nor can it be denied that Babalú was a wellspring for other Cuban blogs, and Val himself, if we believe their testimonials, the inspiration for a spate of likeminded anti-Castro bloggers.
Somewhere along the road, however, the humble guy started using the word "humble" with much less sincerity. Whereas in the beginning he would debate any Castroite crackpot who wandered into his domain, he later became very picky about who commented on his threads and what was said there. He came to regard it as a personal affront if his commenters did not second his every opinion. Then he started to delete comments that did not and ban commenters who would not pay due obeisance to his monomania. To all his other laurels, Val added that of introducing the echo chamber to the Cuban-American blogosphere. There are those who consider Henry to be Val's Richelieu and blame his influence for all that went wrong at Babalú. I give Val more credit than that.
In any case, congratulations to Babalú, and, in particular, to its Founding Editor. I have spent a year trying to make you return to your better angels. What success I have had, if any, I will let others decide. It is an encouraging development that lately some modicum of free expression has returned to Babalú, though it is still likely to be met with the same abuse. The reason is that suppression of all dissent had turned Babalú into a ghost town, with miles of posts with nary a comment hitched to them.
Perhaps they have started to realize that diversity of opinion benefits both countries and blogs.
Let us at least hope so.
Shocking. Of 16 commenters congratulating Val on Babalú's 5th Anniversary, only 8 are members of his "magnificent cadre of writers." The other 8 must have overlooked his "Wow" post. Time to thin the ranks?