The fiftieth anniversary of Fidel Castro’s Iron Curtain around Cuba may suggest that in some dark corners of the world, Soviet-style communism still lives. But it also demonstrates that antique "peaceful coexistence" bias is as persistent as the Castro brothers. Time magazine is still demonstrating the tired tendency of moral equivalence, treating the free world and the miniaturized communist world as bickering kids who should hang up their boxing gloves. Tim Padgett wrote:
The Cuban revolution deserves its due: it overthrew the putrid Batista regime and showed the U.S. that its worst impulses could be thwarted. But after 50 years, maybe it's time for both sides to move toward (yes) a resolution.
How are America’s "worst impulses" proven to be morally exceeded by Castro’s reign of poverty and oppression? How is Batista "putrid" and Castro so obviously superior? Can’t both be regrettable dictators? But Time finds no moral equivalence there. Padgett insisted it’s time for grown-ups to take over the diplomacy, and Obama is just in time. Dictatorship is to be treated with light humor:
Washington has maintained its trade embargo against Havana yet failed to dislodge Fidel Castro, alienating much of the hemisphere in the process. The Castro regime has stood up to a half-century of yanqui aggression and championed the poor but also sports a basket-case economy and a bleak human-rights record. ¡Felicidades!
With a new year and a new U.S. Administration, though, there's hope that Washington and Havana can wake up from their Cold War time warp and smell the café cubano. President-elect Barack Obama says he's willing to talk with Raúl Castro and is poised to end restrictions on Cuban-American travel and remittances – a first step toward dismantling the 46-year-old embargo and a gesture that would make it harder for the Castros to rail against gringo imperialism. And Raúl recently told actor Sean Penn in an interview for The Nation that he and Obama "must meet" to "begin to solve our problems."
The first thing to notice here is how Padgett thinks the Castro argument makes sense, that somehow Cuba has a right to inveigh against "Yanqui aggression" and "gringo imperialism" – without noting that in their Cold War heyday, Cuba was aggressively "exporting revolution" not only in central and South America, but even in Africa (Angola). Apparently, communist imperialism isn’t worth remembering.
The other thing worth noticing is how Time wants to suggest that America is an imperialist bully, and then also a marginalized flea on the sidelines:
If both parties don't act soon, they risk spending the 21st century on the hemisphere's sidelines, out of step with the rest of the Americas. Last month a Russian warship visited Havana for the first time since the Soviet Union collapsed – a sign to many of waning U.S. influence in the Caribbean.
Clearly, the current trend in the Americas is moving to the left, toward Hugo Chavez and Emo Morales and so on. Barack Obama and Sean Penn clearly have more in common with them. But doesn’t that also suggest that the Bush administration hasn’t been a heyday of "Yanqui aggression" in the new century? The Bush team has been hands-off enough that a Washington Post editor recently complained that the Bushies weren’t doing enough to oppose Daniel Ortega in Nicaragua.
Time can say what it wants about America’s history in the Americas. It can loathe whatever policies that presidents from JFK to Ronald Reagan tried to make other countries more friendly or democratic or prosperous. But regardless of American policy, journalists can’t plausibly put the United States on "the hemisphere’s sidelines."