Tuesday, April 10, 2012

The Admiration for Dictators and Ozzie Guillen's Lesson

By and large, the illusion that secular-liberalism is a viable worldview and a belief system upon which we can base our lives can only be sustained when times are prosperous and comfortable. However, when suffering and pain are inescapable and death looms as a distinct possibility, the illusion of our self-sufficiency without God tend to dissipate. It can also be said that an idea or theory can be held to as long as the brutal facts of reality does not contradict it or undermine its credibility. Like intellectuals in academia who are surrounded by mere ideas, many people embrace secular-liberalism as long as the consequences of its principles have yet to make themselves felt. The same applies to communism, socialism and dictatorships. It all may look nice on paper, but the outcomes of what these political systems leave behind are too often marked with pain and poverty.

Ozzie Guillen, head coach of the Florida Marlins major league baseball team, is paying a price other Hollywood celebrities didn’t have to pay. Guillen, in an interview with Time magazine, did what a lot of celebrities and intellectuals do: praise dictators and dictatorships. Indeed, he said something he wish he could take back. He said, "I respect Fidel Castro. You know why? A lot of people have wanted to kill Fidel Castro for the last 60 years, but that mother (expletive) is still there." However, what the new Marlins head coach did not yet realize was that Castro’s ability to stay in power for several decades was not half as meaningful as his crimes against humanity. It just so happens that the new Marlins stadium is located in Little Havana. Little Havana is in the Miami area where many Cuban refugees live; refugees who knew firsthand that the Cuban dictator was no friend of human rights and religious liberty. For these Cuban Americans, secular-liberalism and the all-powerful State it usually initiates, is not an academic or theoretical matter. In fact, Guillen’s comments stirred up a lot of bad memories among the Cuban community. As such, he is having to endure the public retribution of Castro’s political victims.

Guillen is getting what he deserves. As one commentator said, he is the Charles Barkley of major league baseball. Up to the Time magazine interview, he has spoken his mind with impunity. With that said, it’s too bad that the same standard and social pressures did not apply to other politicians and celebrities when they sang their praises of Fidel Castor. For instance, Steven Spielberg, once spoke in glowing terms of the Communist leader of Cuba: “Meeting Fidel Castro was the eight most important hours of my life." And Jesse Jackson took his admiration for the Cuban dictator a step further: “Viva Fidel! Viva Che! Castro is the most honest and courageous politician I've ever met." Actors Danny Glover and Sean Penn have also expressed their admiration for the Cuban dictator. And President Obama’s Houston campaign manager had a poster of Che Guevara, Castro’s right hand man during the Communist revolution in Cuba.

Ozzie Guillen had to do what these other celebrities and politicians did not have to do; and that is to apologize. "The things I said I didn't mean to say," he said. And as for the Cuban dictator, he said, "He not just hurt Cuban people, he hurt a lot of people, counting Venezuelans.” Perhaps, Guillen had to finally look into the eyes of those who were tragically affected by communism and by Castor himself. He could no longer compartmentalize his romantic ideas of dictator and dictatorships from the real life effects it imposes on real human beings. He was made to see the pain and anger of those who were devasted by a Godless and warped political ideology.

Again, it’s too bad Spielberg, Glover, Penn and Jackson were not made to spend quality time with the victims of the dictator they lavishly praised. Perhaps, they too would apoligze for their unwarranted praise for dictators and dictatorships.

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