May I play the devil's advocate in this situation? I believe that the post at Babalú was not meant to desecrate the flag but as a form of satire/irony. The poster had no idea that it would offend so many, especially those of a certain age and above ~ due to our life experiences and beliefs. My question is: What if after Angel Garzon's comment to Babalú which I have lauded and found to be very much in step, Babalú would have taken the flag down. They could have simply stated that it was not meant to offend in any way, but because of the mere idea that anyone could take it that way they were removing it.
Would this have been the end of the issue?
PS - I am NOT trying to add fuel to fire, quite the contrary.
7/14/2008 3:29 PM
Although ignorance is not an excuse it is certainly one that the Babalunians could plead in all honesty not only as regards the desecration of the Cuban flag but any other issue relating to Cuba on which they choose to deliver themselves of an opinion. George Moneo could well have inserted Eduardo's Sarmiento's cartoon in Babalú as "The New Cuban Flag" without the slightest inkling that it constituted a profanation of the Cuban flag. Indeed, I will go so far as to accept that if George had known or somebody else had told him that the caricature, whatever its social commentary, was first and foremost an insult to the Cuban flag, that he would have resisted the urge to seem "cosmopolitan" at the expense of proferring an insult to our flag. If George had known the provenance of the cartoon he would also have been loathe to publish it. The fact that it is the work of one of Castro's caricaturists would surely have sounded an alarm for him. But, of course, he reproduced the offensive cartoon without knowing the artist or the artist's agenda. This is because his knowledge of Cuban history and the quehacer cubano (Cuban reality) is limited by the fact that he does not speak Spanish and has never set foot in Cuba in his life. On one level, of course, such an interest in his Cuban roots is commendable. It is not so commendable, however, for him to opine on Cuban affairs when he refuses to learn our language which is the portal to our history and culture. The greatest service that George can do for our country, as well as the greatest favor that he can do for himself, is to learn Spanish. I do not think that it is beyond him even now. I am sure that if he had taken the trouble to do so over the last 50 odd years he would surely have avoided this and other embarrassing situations.
But once the offensive cartoon was published and its real character pointed out to him and all the Babalunians, what was Babalú's reaction? Well, it was not the reaction of a true patriot who might have given offense unintentionally to our flag but would never persist in his error once it was pointed out to him much less deny the offense by confirming it. It is interesting that George was joined in what now amounted to a defense of the desecration of the Cuban flag by Val, Alberto and Claudia: a Cuban who left the island at age three; another, dubbed "El Americanito," because he was not born there; and a third who is not Cuban. Again, I consider it commendable on all their parts, and especially Claudia's, that they feel Cuban. But that really isn't enough. In fact, it much too little if you intend to dictate to Cubans "of a certain age" and "with life experiences and beliefs" formed in Cuba how they should react to the desecration of our country's most sacred symbol. It may just be that their "Cuban radar" is not what it should be. They do not see the irreverence because they have never worshipped at our temple; they cannot understand the offense because it does not touch them personally. I do not doubt that they would be quick to perceive and denounce any desecration of the American flag. This is, after all, their country. Cuba is a country of interest to them. Of course, it is not the same thing.
If Babalú had taken down the desecration I would have been surprised and pleased. It would have represented an encouraging step towards genuine cubanidad. Instead, Val deleted the entire discussion on the flag desecration, which contained Marc Másferrer and Angel Garzón's devastating and unanswerable critiques. This I consider to be a further disrespect of those whose judgment and patriotic sensibilities are keener than theirs. It is, however, in keeping with Babalú's traditional response to dissent of any kind.