If CNN wanted to refute its description as the Communist News Network, the December 3 edition of Connie Chung Tonight didn’t help.
On December 2, Chung began a series on tyrants who have clashed with the United States. The first segment was on Adolf Hitler with guests Armin Lehmann and Ron Rosenbaum, authors respectively of Hitler’s Last Courier and Explaining Hitler: The Search for the Origins of His Evil. (Chung said during the discussion, “I think a lot of us wonder why the Iraqi people continue to follow Saddam Hussein and don't rise up against him.” Gee, could totalitarianism have something to do with it? Political change is tricky for a disarmed population terrorized along Stalinist lines and barred from conscientious association.)
On December 3, Chung examined Fidel Castro with guest Jane Franklin. Imagine Hitler-apologist David Irving as the previous night’s guest, and that’s the equivalent of Franklin on Castro (classified by the State Department as a sponsor of terrorism).
Franklin has lectured in Cuba and written for the Cuban “newspaper” Granma International. (“Journalism means allowing people to talk,” the late left-wing journalist Jacobo Timmerman observed in his book on Cuba. In regimes like Cuba where talking is a crime, journalism doesn’t exist.) She is also affiliated with the Center for Cuban Studies, which like the Nazi-defending Institute for Historical Review conceals its despotic sympathies with a respectable name.
Franklin has even tried to justify Castro’s February 24, 1996 murder of American citizens in international airspace as “defense against terrorists.” Yup, those unarmed Cessnas were nothing short of Al-Qaeda. None other than Bill Clinton has noted, “They shot those Brothers to the Rescue planes down in blatant violation of international law. We don’t believe they were in Cuban territorial waters, but even if they were in Cuban territorial waters it was illegal.”
During her Connie Chung appearance, Franklin asserted that Castro “established a program of basic human rights” after coming to power in 1959. Thousands of executions, abolition of freedom of speech and worship, massive expropriation, concentration camps for “ideological deviationists”—national liberation indeed. (Franklin didn’t dispute Chung’s description of Castro as “a man who did execute his opposition.” She probably figures those counterrevolutionary untermenschen got what they deserved.)
Franklin also asserted that Castro has popular support and “the health and education systems in Cuba are a model for the rest of the world.” Since Castro prohibits criticism of himself, prohibits more one party, and has refused electoral accountability for nearly 44 years, what is the methodology for Franklin’s assertion, mind reading?
The elevation of Cuba’s “education” system to global preeminence is interesting in light of a recent atrocity. This fall, Cuba expelled university students Roger Rubio Lima, Harold Cepero Escalante, and Yoan Coumbie Rodriguez for signing a petition called the Varela Project, which calls for a referendum on issues including civil liberties and free enterprise.
If the world emulated this system, critical thought would share the fate of the dinosaurs. (And if critical thought goes, the species isn’t far behind.)
Like education, health care operates on an apartheid basis where non-communist Cubans are denied services. As Castro’s thugs told the asthmatic human rights activist Enrique Patterson before his exile in 1992, “Medicine is for revolutionaries!” More recently, Dr. Oscar Biscet’s dentist has been intimidated into withholding care for the molars he lost from a gum infection while a prisoner of conscience. (Released on October 31 after three days short of three years, Dr. Biscet was arrested on December 6 when he tried to hold a meeting about human rights. His condition is unknown.)
But just as an exercise, let it be assumed that Cuba’s education and health care systems are paragons. How does this negate the systematic violation of Cubans’ human rights? Next Der Führer won’t be so bad since he provided jobs and vacations through the program of Kraft durch Freude (Strength through Joy).
CNN founder Ted Turner has smoked cigars with Castro and praised him as “one hell of a guy,” so Franklin’s appearance was no surprise. That doesn’t make this apologist for terrorism and tyranny any less obscene, though.