Monday, May 15, 2006

I came here to scream

Ian Buruma in the TimesOnline on that familiar perversity - the western intellectual singing hosannas to this month's anti-capitalist strong man. In this case, it's Hugo Chavez of Venezuela. Obviously, Chavez is not in the same league as Castro, Stalin or Pol Pot, which must be a disappointment to his western toadies, but the pattern is the same ol'.

Buruma tells this story.

When the Cuban novelist Reinaldo Arenas managed to escape to the US in 1980, after years of persecution by the Cuban government for being openly homosexual and a dissident, he said: “The difference between the communist and capitalist systems is that, although both give you a kick in the ass, in the communist system you have to applaud, while in the capitalist system you can scream. And I came here to scream.”

Last year a number of journalists, writers and showbiz figures, including Harold Pinter, Nadine Gordimer, Harry Belafonte and Tariq Ali, signed a letter claiming that in Cuba “there has not been a single case of disappearance, torture or extra-judicial execution since 1959 . . .”
Arenas was arrested in 1973 for “ideological deviation”. He was tortured and locked up in prison cells filled with floodwater and excrement, and threatened with death if he didn’t renounce his own writing. Imagine what it must be like to be treated like this and then read about your fellow writers in the West standing up for your oppressors.
Baruma points out the obvious, as he needs to.
The common element of radical Third Worldism is an obsession with American power, as though the US were so intrinsically evil that any enemy of the US must be our friend, from Mao to Kim Jong-il, from Fidel Castro to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
(Via Harry's Place)

Tagged: ,

No comments: