Daniel Greenfield, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, is a New York writer focusing on radical Islam.
In the fall of 1962, Fidel Castro urged his Soviet allies to wipe out the United States.
The Butcher of Havana told Khrushchev to “to eliminate this danger forever”. By that he meant destroying the United States of America in a nuclear assault.
“However harsh and terrible the solution, there would be no other,” he reasoned.
The Soviet leader replied warning of a “war of extermination” with “millions of deaths". He called Castro’s proposal, the “start of a thermonuclear world war”.
Khrushchev flinched from an orgy of death that would have wiped out most of the US, the USSR and Cuba. Castro did not. He was willing to see the world die rather than yield power.
Now the dictator who liked to shout, “Socialism or Death” is dead and out of power.
Castro’s slogan was “Socialism or Death”. But his real legacy was “Socialism and Death”.
The Communist monster brought death to everything his Socialist reign of terror touched. He killed his own people and countless foreigners in wars and acts of terror around the world. Everything he did spread death.
The Cuban intervention in Angola brought back AIDS to Cuba. The disease quickly spread to Cuba’s vast network of prostitutes. Castro had boasted that his regime’s prostitutes had college degrees. In reality they were children who were the children and grandchildren of prostitutes who had known no other life under Communism. Left-wing tourists visiting the Socialist paradise were known to pay $30 to abuse a child. But they left carrying the disease with them and Socialism once again became death.
Castro had always thrived on the death and misery of others. Once everyone understood that.
President Kennedy, who faced down Castro in that terrible hour, had once called Castro’s regime a “Communist menace” that “threatens the security of the Western Hemisphere”. And he laid out a firm objective. “Cuban communism will be resisted, isolated, and left to die on the vine.”
Barack Obama, who often likes to pretend that he is the second political coming of JFK, overturned that policy decisively, pouring money into Communist Cuba and bailing out its brutal regime.
Obama offered “condolences to Fidel Castro's family” after his death and described his plot to murder over a hundred million Americans as “political disagreements” and “discord”. He described Castro’s atrocities around the world and at home as “the enormous impact of this singular figure on the people and world around him.”
All this for a brutal dictator who had remorselessly butchered his own people, exported terrorism internationally and plotted to wipe out the United States. But these are precisely the reasons why the left has always loved Castro. They did not love Castro in spite of his atrocities. But because of them.
The worship of Castro, like that of Stalin, always made it easy to distinguish what the left claimed to believe from what it really believed. At the height of the young left’s love affair with Castro in America, the Cuban authorities were rounding up men for having long hair and women for wearing miniskirts. Local propaganda accused these “rebels” of using drugs and defacing the flag. Western Castro lovers were cheering a regime that would have locked them up for their own displays of non-conformity.
Castro made a mockery of human rights. His minions murdered children and the left cheered. It locked up black people and gays. And the left couldn’t get enough because it didn’t really believe in protecting minorities or in the freedom to wear long hair without being arrested. It believed in its own power.
A convoy of celebs has passed through Cuba while lavishing praise on Castro’s genius and even his physique. When Obama began to illegally dismantle the embargo, the left mourned that the Socialist paradise would be despoiled by consumerism. And it was out of concern for that “paradise” that Obama took steps to bail out Castro to preserve the Communist dictatorship as a theme park for the left.
Obama recently praised Cuba’s health care system. The superiority of Cuban medicine is one of the left’s obsessions because it proves that tyranny and slavery in the service of progressive goals works. Cuban doctors are slaves and not only does the left know it, it supports and defends it. That is why the same left-wing media outlets that lecture us incessantly on our moral obligation to accept Syrian Muslims who hate us and this country, urged against accepting Cuban doctors defecting from Castro.
The reality of Cuban medicine, dying patients deprived of basic health care while slave doctors tend to the needs of left-wing tourists looking for a little lift and tuck, matters less than the myth. The myth of Cuban medicine, like Chinese infrastructure, is that the methods of the totalitarian left get results.
And that is why the left loved Castro.
Ho Chi Minh’s successors, once the darlings of the left, sold out and want Uncle Sam to help protect them from the People’s Republic of China. China also seems to be more interested in selling the capitalists rope than hanging them with it. But Castro never compromised or sold out.
Instead his paradise became a parasite, shifting its dependency from the USSR to Venezuela to Obama. It degenerated over the decades until it had become little more than a museum of Communism making money through human trafficking in its vaunted doctors, promoting child prostitution to left-wing tourists and occasionally overthrowing other governments and feeding off their resources.
Castro’s Cuba was dying of its own disease.
The death of Castro will take away much of the romance of Cuba for the left. The left likes to believe that it lives by theories that are as scientific as anything to be found in the study of the universe. The truth is that it is a movement of emotions that gravitates to personalities. Castro, like Stalin, had a cult of personality because he appeared to embody the indomitable spirit of Socialism.
But Castro, like his regime, didn’t thrive. They persisted. They lingered long after their time had ended.
Now Castro is dead. Venezuela, whose dead leader had also adopted Castro’s “Socialism or Death” slogan, is also dead. Obama has fallen. Castro has fallen. America still exists despite both of them.
And that leaves Cuba without a powerful left-wing patron to subsidize its Museum of Communism.
JFK had made the moral stakes of the conflict clear. “The first thing we have to do is let the Cuban people know our determination that they will someday again be free.”
The choice isn’t Socialism or Death. It’s Socialism and Death. Or Freedom and Life.