Fidel Castro’s death has spawned plenty of accolades from the media, as is often the case after a famous figure dies.
“He was a voracious reader, questioning me about politics and about the economy back in the U.S., and very, very aware of everything that was going on. Very, very smart,” recalled veteran reporter Andrea Mitchell of NBC News.
“Even Castro’s critics praised his advances in health care and in education,” proclaimed an ABC News report.
“He was a romantic figure when he came into power, and when he knocked off the corrupt dictator [Fulgencio] Batista, we American young high school kids and kids in those days rooted like mad for the guy,” reminisced MSNBC’s Chris Matthews. “We thought, here was this guy in fatigues with a beard coming in out of the countryside, leading a revolution and swept aside this old corrupt regime, and he was going to be almost like a folk hero to most of us.”
But the late Cuban dictator does not deserve such praise, according to William J. Murray, author of “Utopian Road to Hell: Enslaving America and the World with Central Planning.”
“The mainstream media in the United States, along with many leaders on the left side and international leaders on the left side, are treating Fidel Castro’s death as if it were a tragedy, when in fact it should have been treated no differently than the death of Adolf Hitler, Josef Stalin, Pol Pot or Mao,” Murray told WND.
Murray, chairman of the Religious Freedom Coalition in Washington, D.C., said there is no difference between Castro and the other “utopian dinosaurs of the 20th century.”
Nima Sanandaji, president of the think tank European Centre for Entrepreneurship and Policy Reform, believes the media have been too laudatory toward a man who put world peace at risk.
“It is known, for example, that Castro urged then-Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev to threaten a nuclear strike on the U.S.,” Sanandaji, author of “Debunking Utopia: Exposing the Myth of Nordic Socialism,” told WND. “When the next Soviet leader, Leonid Brezhnev, signed the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, Castro refused to sign, declaring it an attempt by the Soviets and the U.S. to dominate the Third World.
“We should remember that the world was close to a nuclear disaster during the Cold War, and that Fidel Castro was somewhat of a madman pushing for the socialist bloc to start nuclear annihilation. I am not quite sure we should be doing our utmost to view such a man from a positive angle.”
Paul Kengor, a college professor and author of “Takedown: From Communists to Progressives, How the Left Has Sabotaged Family and Marriage,” said the mainstream media are what the communists, including Castro himself, saw as “reliable dupes and useful idiots.”
The professor pointed out the media started whitewashing Castro’s record long before he died.
“This is actually a very old tradition for Castro’s Cuba,” Kengor told WND. “It even precedes Fidel’s January 1959 takeover. The New York Times, specifically in the form of Herb Matthews’ horrendous February 1957 reports on Castro, has been making excuses for him and painting a rosy picture of his police state for nearly 60 years. This is nothing new.”
In the wake of Castro’s death, several media outlets singled out free education and free health care as the Cuban dictator’s defining achievements.
“Many saw positives – education and health care for all, racial integration,” reported CNN.
“He dramatically improved health care and literacy,” declared Andrea Mitchell in a report on MSNBC.
“If you were from the middle down in Cuban society, in the hierarchy, and you got free medicine that you didn’t get under the dictator Batista, if you could start a little business, if you got access to higher education that you couldn’t get unless you were an elite under Batista … you think of Castro in a whole different way,” stated Geraldo Rivera on Fox News.
But these “free” things are meaningless if they are of poor quality or if they come at a different type of cost, according to Murray.
“Just because you label something ‘free’ does not mean that it is equal to the health care, for example, in France or England or Germany, where individuals actually have to pay premiums in order to obtain it,” Murray said. “Yes, there is ‘free’ education in Cuba. What do they learn? How many internationally known engineers and architects and doctors are there from Cuba? Yes, they have ‘free’ medicine, and they have a very high mortality rate in comparison to other nations their size.
“Just because something has been declared ‘free’ doesn’t mean the people aren’t paying for it, either. They’re paying for it in earning less, in having less opportunity, in not being allowed to own private property or, until recently, not even being allowed to own a cell phone. This is the price that the people of Cuba pay for something that’s ‘free’ and probably not very valuable.”
Sanandaji said no one should be impressed by what Castro did for his country’s health care and education systems.
“Many point to the fact that Castro’s regime built hospitals and funded education,” the author and researcher noted. “But then again, most dictators have funded education and built hospitals. To give just one example, Saddam Hussein was also a socialist, responsible for creating a relatively modern public health system in Iraq. Those who admire Castro’s legacy should explain if their admiration also extends to other socialist dictators, and if not, what exactly sets Castro apart from other dictators who have followed socialist ideas.”
Kengor had much harsher words for Castro admirers.
“As for the dupes who are strangely and inexplicably and hilariously praising Fidel’s ‘free’ education and health care, I ask: Haven’t you lefties found a way to do this in your Western European cradle-to-grave, womb-to-tomb nanny states without implementing a Marxist-Leninist dictatorship that enslaves and kills its people?” the professor asked rhetorically. “Think about it, geniuses. You people claim to be so darn smart.”
Sanandaji agrees that Castro’s minor social achievements should not outweigh the brutal repression he inflicted on the Cuban people.
“Fidel Castro is responsible for killing thousands upon thousands of innocent civilians, imprisoning homosexuals and committing other crimes against humanity,” the author said. “Of course, some progress was made in Cuba during his reign. This is not surprising, since Castro’s reign began in 1959. More than half a century has passed since, during which virtually every country in the world has experienced progress, largely due to a massive technological boom. This technological development has even simmered into failed socialist models, such as the one in Cuba.”
The real question, according to Sanandaji, is how Cuba would have developed had Castro’s revolution never happened. He thinks the island nation could have reached much greater heights if it had adopted a market-based economy. In his estimation, communism has held Cuba back, just as socialism has held the Nordic countries back, which is what Sanandaji argues in his book, “Debunking Utopia.”
“Given the pro-Castro growth trajectory of Cuba – and the massive opportunities the country had to develop its manufacturing, services, agriculture and tourism – we can be quite certain that the communist regime of Castro impeded Cuba’s development,” Sanandaji stated. “Had Cuba moved toward one form of market system or another – whether it be social democracy or a more small-government system – the average Cuban would in all certainty have today been more prosperous, free and enjoyed better welfare services.”