Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Birds of a feather

An article in today's Miami Herald speaks of political prisoners held without benefit of habeas corpus and secret trials for helping the enemy by criticizing the government. Of course it's not about George Bush's little bit of Cuba, but about Fidel Castro's country.

One shouldn't push the comparisons too far, but it's hard to resist noticing that we're talking about two governments overly concerned with opposition; two governments not squeamish about physically and psychologically mistreating prisoners, not afraid to equate criticism with treason and not particularly scrupulous about holding people without charges or trying them in secret without allowing them access to evidence.

I'm not saying that the Dixie Chicks were treated like Rolando Jiménez Posada, who was recently sentenced to 12 years for criticizing Castro's government, but I'm sure that there are plenty of people who would have imprisoned the country music singers for disrespecting George Bush and who still think they and all Bush critics are traitors. It's undeniable that the strategy of equating dissent or even of demanding the truth with "giving aid and comfort to the enemy" has been used to a degree of late, not seen since our lamented effort to make the Vietnamese reject communism.

Cuban Journalist Oscar Sánchez Madan was sentenced to four years in prison last week, after being arrested, tried and convicted all in the same day by a kangaroo court that didn't allow him a lawyer. I don't think he was tortured for years like Jose Padilla.

As I said, I don't want to push the comparison too far, but it shouldn't be this easy to compare governments that insist they are in such total opposition in terms of human rights and equal protection under the law.


According to the New York Times, The Justice Department has asked a federal appeals court to further limit the access of Guantanamo detainees to defense lawyers. The use of Guantanamo as a place at which US laws do not apply and Justice does not reach and decency is as absent as it is in the Oval Office, is reprehensible, but then we've become so used to the reprehensible that the horrific doesn't seem so bad. We have become the enemy. We have become the monster we told ourselves we were fighting.


d.K. said...

I don't see you as pushing the comparison too far at all. That's what Americans have to start to do more of. Our country has never been perfect - far from it. But we could argue and defend our values - flawed though they have always been - with a straight face and a relative sense of sincerity and conviction. We cannot do that any longer in many realms, and that's an enormous legacy of the Cheney/Bush years. It's very powerful and it's enduring. Rudy Guiliani's recent cants that electing a Democrat in '08 will mean backpeddling on the Patriot Act, on "interrogations", on post-9/11 "progress" has resonance with many, many people, reflecting a new reality that we have got to confront. Comparing what's now acceptable in the mainstream under Cheney/Bush to what's acceptable in Castroite Cuba doesn't absolve the Cuban regime of anything - it just frankly points out a new reality in the U.S. that ought to cause people to stop and think.

Capt. Fogg said...

Unfortunately, the ability of the government and the media to create enough hysteria to keep people from stopping and thinking has increased enormously.