The Corner

In Praise of Worms

In Wednesday’s Impromptus, I spoke (once more) about the Ladies in White, the democracy group in Cuba that is subject to awful abuse. I mentioned the Cuban Communists’ favorite term of abuse: gusano, or worm. That’s what they call any opponent of Communist rule. Their supporters around the world use this term too.

I first heard it in Ann Arbor, Mich., my hometown. The Left would sneer at Cubans advocating democracy, or even questioning the dictatorship, as gusanos. The great Armando Valladares was Gusano No. 1. I didn’t know what the word meant until later.

Anyway, a reader writes me, “What do worms do? They take dirt and rotting things and make them into soil, where good things can grow. That’s not a bad metaphor for Cuban dissidents, is it?”

I’m not sure I can buy this attempt at “owning the insult.” But I admire it!