"Bush is a tyrant," declared Harry Belafonte at last week’s Atlanta march commemorating the Voting Rights Act of 1965. When CNS reporter Marc Morano asked the calypso king about the blacks serving in the Bush administration, "Black tyrants!" came Belafonte’s tart reply.
A few years ago Belafonte was asked about his friend Fidel Castro. Here’s a "Cuban leader" (the term used by the late Peter Jennings) who jailed more political prisoners as a percentage of population than Hitler or Stalin. Here’s a "Cuban Premier" (as Barbara Walters prefers) who executed more political prisoners in his first year in power than Hitler did in his first five. Here’s a "Cuban President" (Dan Rather’s term) who jailed or executed any union official, journalist, or political opponent who uttered a peep against him.
"If you believe in freedom!" Belafonte quickly replied. "If you believe in justice, if you believe in democracy– you have no choice but to support Fidel Castro!" (Fidel: Hollywood’s Favorite Tyrant, p.11)
It’s hard to know where to begin responding to a mentality like Belafonte’s. So let’s proceed to other luminaries at the Atlanta march.
Jesse Jackson made the scene and declared that, "the Voting Rights Act extension is critical because the same old enemies of civil rights and voting rights will always keep up their ugly activities. We must protect the right to vote against discrimination."
He was referring, we may assume, to Republicans. A week earlier while announcing the march and commemoration, he declared: “Voting is not a national right, it’s a state system. We have 50 separate but unequal voting systems. Even the new U.S.-written Constitution of Iraq provides better voting rights.”
In 1984 Jesse Jackson was in Havana, arm in arm with a man who abolished voting rights for blacks, whites–for any hue on any Cuban Rainbow Coalition– and under penalty of the firing squad. To this day Castro promptly jails anyone who dares bring up the subject of voting. His crackdown and jailing of dozens of dissents last month (many black) was over this very topic. "Fidel Castro is the most honest and courageous politician I’ve ever met!" beamed Jesse Jackson as he shared the spotlight with the man who reintroduced slavery to Cuba. Then Jackson detonated his famous: "Viva Fidel ! Viva Che!"
Rep. Charlie Rangel was not to be outdone at the Atlanta march. Referring to President Bush, Rangel said, "his record against human rights, civil rights, economic rights, is absolutely terrible."
Unlike, apparently, Fidel Castro’s record on these matters. Whether it be, "lifting the embargo" (i.e. let’s have the U.S. taxpayers subsidize Castro’s terrorism and repression,) "cutting off aid to the Nicaraguan Contras" (i.e. let’s allow Castro’s proxies to grab Nicaragua) or "rejoining a father and son" ( i.e. let’s shanghai a little boy back to a Communist island prison), Charles Rangel is always banging the loudest drums in these campaigns. He always walks point on these missions.
That famous bearded champion of human, civil and economic rights has no better friend and champion in the U.S. legislative branch than Representative Charles Rangel.(D-N.Y.) . Indeed, it was easier for Ann Margaret to keep her composure around Conrad Birdie than for Rangel to keep his around Fidel Castro. The Cuban "President’s" famous visit to Harlem in 1995 comes to mind here.
"God Bless you, Fidel!" boomed Pastor Calvin Butts of Harlem’s Abyssinian Baptist Church while introducing the man who jailed the longest suffering black political prisoner of the 20th Century, and who pleaded, begged and even tried to cajole Nikita Khrushchev into nuking New York in 1962. "It is in our tradition to welcome all who are visionaries, revolutionaries and who seek the liberation of all people! "
The "liberation" Castro sought in October 1962 for the people crowding pastor Butts’ church, for Charles Rangel’s constituents, and indeed for Charles Rangel and pastor Butts himself, was in the form of nuclear incineration. "If the missiles had remained," Che Guevara admitted in November of 1962. "We would have used them against the heart of the U.S., including New York. We must attain victory even if it costs millions of atomic victims." (Fidel: Hollywood’s Favorite Tyrant, p. 24)
Che T-shirts have always been very popular with "peace activists."
The People’s Weekly World describes Castro’s Harlem visit best: "The audience which included New York Democratic representative Charles Rangel enthusiastically greeted the Communist leader with a ten minute standing ovation. Chants of ‘FIDEL! FIDEL! VIVA-FIDEL!’ resounded from the rafters."
Then with Rep. Maxine Waters looking on in rapture, a beaming Charlie Rangel waddled up to the podium beside the Great One himself and– oomph!–engulfed him in a mighty bear hug. Castro finally caught his breath, smiled and returned the rotund senator’s passionate abrazo. The following day Castro was feted in the Bronx at "Jimmy’s Bronx Cafe," where Rep. Rangel again embraced him warmly to a wild cacophony of claps, whoops and cheers.
Eusebio Penalver might quibble with Harry, Jesse and Charlie. He’s the longest-serving black political prisoner of the 20th century. A black Cuban, he was holed up and tortured in Castro’s jails longer than Nelson Mandela languished in South Africa’s. Mr Penalver was bloodied in his fight with Communism but unbowed for 30 years in its dungeons. "N**ger!" taunted his jailers. "Monkey! We pulled you down from the trees and cut of your tail!" snickered Castro’s goons as they threw him in solitary confinement.
The Castroites were always asking Eusebio Penalver for a "confession," for a signature on some document admitting his "ideological transgressions." This would greatly alleviate his confinement and suffering, they assured.
Castro got his answer as swiftly and as clearly from Mr. Penalver as the German commander who surrounded Bastogne got his from the 101st Airborne.
Eusebio scorned any "re-education" by his Castroite jailers. He knew it was they who desperately needed it. He refused to wear the uniform of a common criminal. He knew it was they who should don it. Through 30 years of hell in Castro’s dungeons, Eusebio Penalver stood tall, proud and defiant
Ever heard of him? He lives in Miami. Ever see a CNN interview with him? Ever see him on "60 Minutes"? Ever read about him in the New York Times? The Boston Globe? Ever hear about him on NPR or during Black History Month? Ever hear the NAACP or Congressional Black Caucus mention him?
Why do I bother asking? He was Castro’s political prisoner, you see. And as we all know, with the Mainstream Media, that doesn’t count. Today Castro’s police bar black Cubans from tourist areas and 80 percent of Castro’s prison population is black. Cuba’s most prominent political prisoner, Elias Biscet, is black (I won’t bother asking if you’ve heard of him). And exactly .08 percent of Cuba’s Communist rulers are black.
In other places they called this "apartheid," and Harry, Jesse and Charlie ranted and railed against it, as they rant against President Bush today. But regarding a tropical Stalinist and major league racist, they do a quick thumbs up and shout themselves hoarse with "Viva Fidel!" What happened to "We Shall Overcome?"