I love Fidel Castro…I respect Fidel Castro. You know why? A lot of people have wanted to kill Fidel Castro for the last 60 years, but that [SOB] is still there.
Predictably, the world then stopped spinning on its axis.
- South Florida’s vocal Cuban exile community vowed to boycott Marlin games until Ozzie is beheaded fired.
- Ozzie apologized.
- Ozzie announced that he’d be momentarily setting aside his responsibilities managing the team so he could fly back to Florida to personally apologize to each and every Cuban-American face-to-face. Or something like that.
Temporary insanity? You bet. I mean, Ozzie has always been a loose cannon (which I love about him) and this is hardly his first trip to the political hotseat (his comments on old buddy Hugo Chavez certainly stirred it up a few years back). But this, this was the next-best thing to a letter of resignation. Saying something nice about Fidel Castro in Miami? That’s like whizzing on an Irish flag in Southie. It’s like burning the American flag in Alabama. It’s like ripping up a picture of the Pope on Saturday Night Live. It’s like publishing a blasphemous cartoon of Muhammad in … well, anywhere in the world, I guess. Which is to say: It. Just. Isn’t. Done.
And I understand why so many Cuban-Americans have a problem with Castro. In their shoes, I would, too, I imagine. He’s been something of a tinpot through the years. He has been oppressive. He has fostered far more suffering than one despot should be able to. No question.
You just know there’s a “but” coming, though, don’t you?
Frankly, at a macro level, I’m a little sick of America being held hostage by what is ultimately a small-time, decades-old intramural grudge. Castro bad? Yup. But how many of the people we do business with around the world are worse on criteria like human rights? (Hint: lots.) Is Castro a thug? Maybe, but how many innocent civilians have died in the unjust invasions he has launched in the Middle East? Does he belong behind bars? Very likely, but without putting too fine a point on it, how does his record on torture stack up against, oh, I don’t know, those of the last couple US presidents?
America’s Cuban immigrants are hardly the only ones with grudges against folks back in the old country. Should we sever ties with England and boycott them economically? Google “potato famine” and ask yourself what would happen if all Irish-Americans descended from the millions and millions who fled Brit policy in the 19th century were one-issue, fuck England voters. How about one of our Most Favored Nations (MFN) trading partners, Vietnam. Should we let the Hmong dictate all Vietnam policy?
Those with grievances against the Castro administration are absolutely justified in pleading their cases to their representatives, but the problem I have with the result is that our electoral college system assures that not everyone’s vote is equal. We live in a country where you can get the most votes and see the other guy get the White House. It doesn’t necessarily have to be close, either. In theory, you could lose every single vote in 39 states and win the other 11 by one vote apiece and still be anointed the winner. One person, one vote my ass.
Which means that comparatively small groups of people whose interests have nothing to do with the public interest at large can dictate to the nation as surely as a petulant child emperor whose whim is law. Small groups like, say, the Cuban-American community in Florida. This cohort represents a little better than five percent of the state’s population (a third of a percent of the total US population), which means that in a close election where battleground states are key, it represents a powerful bloc that is not to be trifled with. There’s a reason that presidential candidates pay a lot of attention to this region and this constituency – alienate them and you’re going to have to find some creative means for making up the 29 electoral votes you just flushed.
Again, this is a community that is exercising its rights and leveraging its power in ways that are perfectly legal. So my argument isn’t with them, per se, but with the system that accords power all out of proportion to small, narrow interests.
I’ve been arguing for years, though, that America’s anti-Castro/boycott policy is the best friend that Castro has. It’s seemed that the best way to demonstrate the superiority of our system (there’s not much about modern Cuba that you’re really want to model a system on, is there?) is to open up the borders, open up the economy and wait for Castro to fall against the onslaught of prosperity. I mean, the fall of the Berlin Wall sure didn’t benefit the old-guard Communists to the east, did it? Same concept. Normalize relations, grant Cuba MFN status, open the borders, flood the country with opportunity and see how long the Castro dynasty lasts. I mean, at a minimum it can’t be any less effective than our current policy, right?
But what do I know? In any case, I appear to have wandered away from the whole Ozzie issue, which is this: He may pitch out of this jam, but he’s about to learn the hard way that if a one-in-three hundred minority can command obeisance from He Who Would Be King President, they can damn sure manage the politically incorrect loudmouth in the third-base dugout of their nice new baseball park.
Ought to be fun to watch…