Sunday, March 08, 2015

More on visiting Cuba

... But most people, I gather, think that O’Brien’s trip to Cuba was really cool.

These visitors are like Sergeant Schultz from Hogan’s Heroes: “I see nothing” — beyond the pretty girls, the classic old cars, the swaying palm trees, etc.

Senator Claire McCaskill, a Democrat from Missouri, was just in Cuba. She met with no dissidents, of course. While she was there, more than 100 were arrested, for such crimes as trying to attend church. The American said nothing.

She did, however, post pictures of old cars to the Internet. Isn’t that cute? There have long been political pilgrims to totalitarian countries. Paul Hollander has devoted a good part of his career to chronicling them.

There have been plain old ignoramuses, too.

As he crossed from Poland into the Soviet Union, George Bernard Shaw threw his food tins out the train window, because there would be no need of them in the land of milk and honey.

He denied that there was famine in the Soviet Union, because there was plenty of food in his hotel — the Moscow Metropol, which was for foreigners only. They have that kind of hotel in Cuba, too.

John Kenneth Galbraith went to Communist China during the Cultural Revolution, when millions were being starved, tortured, humiliated, and killed. He came back with a criticism: The Chinese smoked too many cigarettes.

In my observation, most Cubans and Cuban Americans bear no great grudge against visitors — as long as they show some moral awareness. As long as they have a smidgeon of conscience.

Conan O’Brien was able to flit down there and then flit back home. Does he realize what happens to ordinary Cubans if they try to leave the island? Does he realize that they have been shot and killed in the water, as they desperately try to escape?

I sometimes wish that people in free countries could be sentenced to live in unfree ones — just for a while — in order to appreciate what other people have to endure, and what they themselves have to be grateful for.
 Read the whole article  by Jay Nordlinger here.