The Corner

The one and only.

Failure of Imagination, Cont’D


Derb, exactly.

My wife is Cuban, and after her father got the family out of the country, he turned over his house to a South American embassy, making it, technically, foreign territory, and therefore, by Latin diplomatic tradition, a place of sanctuary. The grounds of the house were soon crowded with Cubans seeking to escape Fidel’s regime. Whereupon some of Fidel’s soldiers drove up, mounted a machine gun on the back of a Jeep, and opened fire.

Here in Northern California, we have quite a few friends who think Fidel is just dandy–all that universal health care, don’t you know–and a couple of our acquaintances have even urged their children to visit Havana as social workers. When we tell them what took place at my father-in-law’s house just days after he himself escaped, they almost always look at us blankly for a moment, then change the subject. They simply cannot imagine it.

Which leads me to a question for our readers. Some famous person or other once said something like this: “Understanding what took place in the Soviet Union requires not only historical knowledge but an act of imagination.” Can anyone tell me who said that–and where I can find the actual quotation?

Please place “Imagination” in the subject heading.