The Corner

‘Lifestyles’ of the Un-Rich and Un-Famous

In my column today, I talk about how important it is not to confuse a people with a dictatorship ruling that people, without consent. Dictatorships want to be thought of as synonymous with the countries they rule. For example, the CCP wants to be thought of as at one with China: and many Westerners, many people in free countries, cooperate. I get mail that says, “Who are we to tell China how to run their country?” Who asked the Chinese, about how their country should be run? Not the CCP. They maintain power by naked force. They proved this in Tiananmen Square.

Writing today’s column, I had a memory from the Elián González affair. Eleanor Clift of Newsweek, speaking on The McLaughlin Group, said, “Frankly, to be a poor child in Cuba may in many instances be better than being a poor child in Miami, and I’m not going to condemn their lifestyle so gratuitously.” Anyone who knows anything about conditions in Cuba, versus conditions in Miami, would find this statement obscene.

Then there is “their lifestyle.” First, the word “their,” as though Cubans have chosen Communism, and all its privations. Second, the word “lifestyle.” Most people, I think, when they think of “lifestyle,” think of trips to the gym, or drinks with umbrellas in them. This Newsweek journalist was talking about a totalitarian society, one of the most brutally regimented and stifled places on earth.

Everyone says stupid things on television, as in life in general. Maybe Clift just had a lapse, and would take it back.

In my view, we should always bear in mind one thing about “nonconsensual societies,” to borrow Robert Conquest’s term: They are nonconsensual. Chinese and Cubans no more want their Communist dictatorships than the Poles did. And if the Communists and their apologists think that the Communists enjoy popular support — let them prove it, in free, multiparty elections. As I say in my column, don’t wait up nights.

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