Making fun of the poor
John le Carré summarized the connection between treachery and love in his famous epigram: love is whatever you can still betray. It is the watchword of people whose profession is selling out their soul. Captain Ed notes the sadness and resignation with which Cuban dissidents watch yet another Western media celebration of Fidel Castro. Starting from a long article by a journalist who has actually lived in Cuba which describes the grinding poverty and decrepitude of the island, the Captain observes:
When speaking with a Cuban dissident, [the British journalist] Thomas told him of London mayor Ken Livingstone and his planned celebration of the 50th anniversary of Catro's revolution (in 2009). The dissident expressed surprise that people in the West -- with instant access to the truth -- instead turned a blind eye to the suffering and the oppression in Cuba. He then shrugged and said, "Well, you're a democracy," and changed the subject.
How galling it must be to ordinary Cubans to see Western media organizations like NBC enable Castro to magnify his propaganda. The Michael Moores of the West -- and we can't deny that there are many like him, and some just as bad -- extol the oppression of a dictator who imprisons and executes journalists who dare to tell the truth about life under the dictator. They act as repeater stations about how the only thing holding back the Cuban people is the American embargo, even though they import more food and medicine from us than anywhere else.
Every time these journalists betray their fellow reporters and build up Castro as some sort of rational alternative to private property and free enterprise, they see their chances of overcoming the oppression dim. Be sure to read the entire article, paying particularly close attention to Thomas' reporting on the decrepitude of Havana's hospitals (the ones for the locals) and the bribery it takes to get treatment even there.
The Third World is the last refuge of Western mediocrities. It where worn-out academics, huckster-preachers, leftist documentarists looking to shoot a snuff film and geriatric visionaries can take in an easy mark and play out their fantasies. What one would call the respectable Westerner, the man with a decent private sector job, the cultured family on vacation or the professor of quantum computing -- is hardly ever out there pressing the flesh, speaking at rallies or doing the rounds of Third World academia. Those men are largely invisible. The true Ugly American, although they are pains to present themselves as otherwise, are the very men Captain Ed describes as making fame and fortune from selling fantasies about the Cuban poor.
The true mark of the committed dissident is the sure knowledge that he has already been betrayed; the conviction that he and just a few others remain on the path while all are being bought and sold around him. And that is what gives the real dissident his peculiar radiance. In a sea of treachery, he will cleave fast to his love, his only victory, his only meaning.