The Corner

Romancing Raúl

In response to Credible Threats? Serious Threats? in Saudi Arabia?

It will not surprise Jay, or most conservatives, to discover that Time magazine published a panegyric to Raúl Castro in its just-released “100 Most Influential People” feature. But, given the plight of Antúnez and other Cuban dissidents, it is fittingly ironic that the following, titled “Cuba’s Evolutionary,” should appear today (I’ve bolded the fun parts):

“You see me as I am now, happy and free,” a long-haired, 27-year-old Raúl Castro told a LIFE journalist in 1958, as the two bumped along mud roads in an open jeep. “But when I meet the United States consul, I will be very serious indeed.” LIFE was in Cuban rebel territory in the wake of Raúl’s bold kidnapping of 47 Americans, whose release he was about to negotiate in exchange for his own set of demands. The negotiations worked, and the event was a public relations coup for the rebel cause: the charmed “hostages” heartily embraced their captors as they were let go.

Until he shook hands with President Obama, first at the 2013 funeral of Nelson Mandela, then at the Summit of the Americas in Panama City this April, that 1958 meeting in the mountains of Oriente province was very probably the last time Raúl Castro had spoken with a U.S. official. Rumor has it that Fidel disapproved of Raúl’s kidnapping stunt but could do nothing about it. Now that Fidel has transitioned to something like a Cuban Jimmy Carter, preoccupied with nuclear proliferation and climate change, Raúl has taken groundbreaking steps toward normalizing relations with the U.S. Those changes have prefigured Obama’s late-date but also significant efforts, which we can hope will finally end the insulting, cruel and utterly failed 50-year U.S. embargo against the island.

Raúl, I wager, will insist that the U.S. respect Cuba’s right to sustain some form of socialism and protect its main achievements, such as education and universal health care. But the real question is, can Cuba manage to do so, despite the destabilizing influx of foreign capital that will be sure to follow this historic rapprochement.

Impressive how Rachel Kushner, who wrote the ode (she penned a commercially successful novel set in Cuba, if you were wondering) can squeeze so much ideological tripe into three paragraphs: Cuba, the paraíso tropical of state-run medicine; Raúl Castro, the gallant rebel, adored even by his hostages; and America, the colonialist oppressor whose slavering capitalists threaten to end Cuba’s elegant island ways. It would, of course, have been passé to mention that that “historic rapprochement” is with a (soon-to-be-former) state sponsor of terrorism that operates a gulag. No, it’s American policy that has been “cruel.”

The Left’s love affair with tyrants waltzes onward.​

Ian Tuttle — Ian Tuttle is the former Thomas L. Rhodes Journalism Fellow at the National Review Institute.

Most Popular

PC Culture

Hate-Crime Hoaxes Reflect America’s Sickness

On January 29, tabloid news site TMZ broke the shocking story that Jussie Smollett, a gay black entertainer and progressive activist, had been viciously attacked in Chicago. Two racist white men had fractured his rib, poured bleach on him, and tied a noose around his neck. As they were leaving, they shouted ... Read More
Politics & Policy

The Strange Paradoxes of Our Age

Modern prophets often say one thing and do another. Worse, they often advocate in the abstract as a way of justifying their doing the opposite in the concrete. The result is that contemporary culture abounds with the inexplicable — mostly because modern progressivism makes all sorts of race, class, and ... Read More
PC Culture

Fake Newspeople

This week, the story of the Jussie Smollett hoax gripped the national media. The story, for those who missed it, went something like this: The Empire actor, who is both black and gay, stated that on a freezing January night in Chicago, in the middle of the polar vortex, he went to a local Subway store to buy a ... Read More
World

Ilhan Omar’s Big Lie

In a viral exchange at a congressional hearing last week, the new congresswoman from Minnesota, Ilhan Omar, who is quickly establishing herself as the most reprehensible member of the House Democratic freshman class despite stiff competition, launched into Elliott Abrams. She accused the former Reagan official ... Read More
U.S.

White Progressives Are Polarizing America

To understand how far left (and how quickly) the Democratic party has moved, let’s cycle back a very short 20 years. If 1998 Bill Clinton ran in the Democratic primary today, he’d be instantaneously labeled a far-right bigot. His support for the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, the Defense of Marriage Act, ... Read More
Elections

One Last Grift for Bernie Sanders

Bernie Sanders, the antique Brooklyn socialist who represents Vermont in the Senate, is not quite ready to retire to his lakeside dacha and so once again is running for the presidential nomination of a party to which he does not belong with an agenda about which he cannot be quite entirely ... Read More
PC Culture

Merciless Sympathy

Jussie Smollett’s phony hate-crime story could have been taken apart in 24 hours, except for one thing: Nobody wanted to be the first to call bullsh**. Who will bell the cat? Not the police, and I don’t blame them. Smollett is a vocal critic of President Donald Trump who checks two protected-category ... Read More