Unbelievable

by Jonah Goldberg

I keep getting email from liberals who chastise me that while I make good points about the hypocrisy of left and right, the one glaring flaw in my argument is that liberals don’t really like Castro the way conservatives like Pinochet. Indeed, the upshot of many liberal emailers is that Casto is downright unpopular on the left side of the aisle. For example:

Hi Jonah,

I appreciate that you are trying to point out hypocrisy on both the
left and the right regarding the defense of universal human rights,
using Castro and Pinochet as examples, but there are a couple of gaping
holes in your argument. The first is that not only are there few
lefties who support Castro or think he has been good for Cuba, as
readers have already pointed out to you, but conservatives in fact are
*still* rather fond of Pinochet, unashamedly and vocally so. Just go
read the Corner symposium. There’s not the balance of hypocrisy here
that you think there is. There is much more admiration for Pinochet
coming out of America than there is love for Castro.

Second, you completely destroy the point of your post by your little
aside at the end, saying that in a contest of Castro vs. Pinochet,
“Pinochet takes it in a cake walk.” You’ve illustrated the hypocrisy
nicely.

Me: Am I crazy? Or is the first part just plain unreal? Do people really think that liberals have been sober-eyed moral realists about Castro from, say, Herbert Matthews’ fawning coverage through, say, Oliver Stone’s recent love-letter to Castro? I mean what am I missing? I don’t have time to run through the soundbites of various scholar-statesmen from the Democratic leadership like Pat Leahy or various members of the Congressional Black Caucus. But come on! Hasn’t some blogger compiled a good list of pro-Castroisms from the left? If not, someone should get on the stick.

And as for the second point, as someone who believes Communism really was as bad and dangerous as we conservatives said it was, I don’t think I was being hypocritical at all. I think Pinochet was an S.O.B. as I said. I do think he is accountable for real crimes. But if we’re going to compare the two, I think the case for Pinochet over Castro is a no-brainer, both as an instrument of foreign policy and as a moral choice between the two (and, if you take a look, you’ll see the editors of the Washington Post agree with me). Both are bad choices, but one — on myriad levels, pragmatic and moral — is far worse than the other. Making meaningful distinctions is not hypocrisy, it’s called “thinking.”

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