Would you be proud of yourself if your works were commemorated for helping put in power a murderous Communist who has killed thousands upon thousands of his own people over a 40 some year reign of terror?
Cuba's tyrant in chief, Fidel Castro, is so honoring the New York Times writer who made Fidel into a mythic "man of the people", Herbert Matthews. A plaque honoring this foolish, naive writer Matthews, was unveiled on Saturday in the Sierra Maestra mountains.
When the fights against the Cuban government of Fulgencio Batista began in the late 1950s, Fidel Castro was just one of several guerrilla fighters trying to vie for followers and publicity. Castro was just a nut in the wilderness with few followers, though, until Herbert Matthews and the New York Times came along.
Matthews was such a fawning fool for Castro that the rebel leader was able to bamboozle the starstruck reporter over the size of Castro's forces. Castro joked years later that he was able to fool Matthews into imagining that he had hundreds of fighting men by parading the same 18 guys past the reporter in different hats and jackets. This little ruse made the child-like writer report that Castro had a great army behind him and the publicity freely given by the New York Times via Matthews gave Castro the legitimacy he needed to take over the Island nation.
Matthews even went so far as to downplay Castro's communist ideology along the way easing fears in the US that Castro would be a communist enemy right off our shores.
As a result of Matthews' puff pieces on Castro, Fidel gained the power he needed, a power he used to rape the country, murder its people and destroy the economy. And, needless to say, he became an enemy to the USA.
And, Matthews wasn't the only New York Times writer that was used as a useful idiot to legitimize and soften the murderous nature of a communist dictator. Walter Duranty, another NYT writer, lionized and lied for Soviet leader Joseph Stalin in the 30s, turning Stalin into a folk hero while ignoring the many thousands of his own people he was killing.
So, the NYT has a long tradition of turning murderers into lovable, men of the people. Castro is so appreciative that he is raising a commemorative plaque in the Times' honor.
But it is a dubious honor, indeed.
So, I ask again, is the New York Times proud of their honor?
Somehow, I'd bet they are.