April 16, 2012 · 0 Comments
By Michael McGehee:
“The issue of Cuba’s exclusion from events like the Summit of the Americas gathering has been a perennially divisive one,” wrote Jackie Calmes and William Neuman in their article, “Americas Meeting Ends With Discord Over Cuba,” which appeared on page A6 of today’s edition of the New York Times. And the division has become “increasingly so lately,” they write, though Calmes and Nuewman don’t offer an explanation as to why that is. Rather, they simply note that “the military takeover by Fidel Castro in 1959″ is “more than 50 years” old.
Like annual U.N. General Assembly votes on lifting America’s embargo of Cuba, where the results are something like 190 to 2, the division is U.S. obstruction of peace and justice. With that considered, it is not surprising that an explanation of the “perennially divisive” issue is not explored with journalistic integrity.
Another disturbing aspect to the coverage provided by Calmes and Neuman is their description of the Cuban Revolution as a ”military takeover.” That’s an odd choice of words to describe a popular revolution. The 26th of July Movement was hardly a “military.” They were a small, poorly-armed group of Cuban revolutionaries that had tremendous popular support—which allowed them to defeat the well-armed and U.S.-backed dictatorial regime of Fulgencio Batista.
The absurdity of Calmes’ and Neuman’s depiction of the Cuban Revolution as a “military takeover” is best exposed by asking the following question: Does anyone honestly believe that Calmes and Neuman would refer to the American Revolution as “the military takeover by George Washington in 1781″?
The absurdity doesn’t end there. Calmes and Neuman then proceed to claim that the “perennially divisive” issue of “Cuba’s exclusion from events like the Summit of the Americas” is being “led by leftist governments in the region, including Venezuela and Bolivia.”
The image they provide is that there is this “discord” surrounding the exclusion of Cuba from official events relevant to the region, but it has nothing to do with yanqui imperialism. It’s the product of “leftist governments” sowing disharmony. Shame on them.
For President Obama, who sees the issue as having us “caught in a time warp,” he wants to move forward.
But those pesky “leftist governments” keep dragging in the past.
Naturally, the Leader of the Free World has to explain American policy: “Cuba, unlike the other countries that are participating, has not yet moved to democracy.”
Of course an astute observer might go back to 1959 and see if the “move to democracy” was Washington’s reason for isolation and punishment of the tiny island. They would likely get stuck in the observation that Uncle Sam’s love for democracy can hardly be the case since the 26th of July Movement overthrew a military dictatorship.
And of course the democratization of Latin America is not something Washington is leading. Actually, the democracy movements are largely in response to Washington’s policies of supporting dictators and death squads that violently put down popular democratic movements—often with genocidal consequences.
So an astute observer might find it cynical, to the extreme, for President Obama to talk about democracy in the region, as if that is Washington’s intentions.
As far back as 1964 American political commentators like Walter Lippmann noted that, “The greatest threat presented by Castro’s Cuba is as an example to other Latin American states which are beset by poverty, corruption, feudalism, and plutocratic exploitation.” This explanation of U.S. policies towards Cuba is backed up by official records. It’s not our supposed love of democracy, as our continued support for dictators all over the world reveal. It’s not Cuba’s alliance with the Soviet Union, which not only came after official U.S. policy towards Castro, but also disappeared more than twenty years ago with the collapse of the Soviet Union. It’s not Cuba’s human rights record, which is nearly spotless as compared to other U.S. allies, like Colombia. It’s Cuba’s successful defiance of Washington, and the “example” they set for the region that has long been seen as “our area of responsibility.”
And Calmes’ and Neuman’s comment about “leftist governments” and “leftist leaders” plays into these shenanigans. Notice the term “leftist” is used as a pejorative to describe governments not doing the bidding of Washington. If you are a freely elected leader seeking regional integration, and an independent state, then you are “leftist.” It is not as if Calmes and Neuman refer to allies as “rightist governments.” By default they are free from such labels. They are simply “democracies.”
Observe the language Calmes and Neuman employ. Their use of the term “obstacle” reveals that they mean, not Washington’s imperialism, but rather those “leftist leaders” who “block agreements” that affect ruling interests. Even “Argentina’s unsuccessful demand” for “its claim of sovereignty over the Falkland Islands” is an “obstacle,” not the U.K.’s continued control of the islands.
It is no surprise that the New York Times can cover a news item without actually covering it. Rather than discuss what the “discord” is really about, Calmes and Neuman go through the motions of presenting U.S. propaganda, and put the blame for “discord” on “leftist leaders.”
This angle is reminiscent to what Martin Luther King Jr wrote about 49 years ago to the day. As he sat in a jail in Birmingham, Alabama, King wrote about his detractors who blamed him for the South’s “tension.” In his “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” King wrote that,
Actually, we who engage in nonviolent direct action are not the creators of tension. We merely bring to the surface the hidden tension that is already alive. We bring it out in the open, where it can be seen and dealt with. Like a boil that can never be cured so long as it is covered up but must be opened with all its ugliness to the natural medicines of air and light, injustice must be exposed, with all the tension its exposure creates, to the light of human conscience and the air of national opinion before it can be cured.
What readers of the NYT need to understand, since Calmes and Neuman are incapable or unwilling to explain this, is that “leftist governments” are not “the creators” of the “discord.” They “merely bring to the surface the hidden [discord] that is already alive,” where it can be brought “out in the open”; so that ”it can be seen and dealt with.”
It is telling that Calmes and Neuman play the historical part of those who blamed King for the “tension.” It is telling but, as noted above, not surprising. The “paper of record” has so firmly embedded itself with the Western establishment that it might as well change its name to the Pyongyang Times.