American G-I's liberated Paris 62 years ago last week. But pay no attention to the French troops strutting at the fore of the liberation parades on newsreels. Sure, some fought, mainly foreign Legionnaires. But Ike allowed their strutting because Ike was "politically correct" before political correctness was cool.
The free world rejoiced at the time but not everyone was keen on forgiving and forgetting, especially the French. According to the Harper Collins Atlas of the Second World War Nazi repression caused 172,260 French civilian deaths during the occupation. Liberation also meant payback time. The heavy hand of retribution fell mostly on native collaborators and the term "collaboration" proved very sweeping. Usually the phrase "guilt by association" is a pejorative to condemn an obvious injustice. In liberated France it became the dominant legal axiom. Historian and National Review editor David Pryce-Jones estimates 105,000 summary executions of French collaborators in the months after the liberation.
Merely writing favorably of the occupiers was sufficient for a death sentence. The French writer Robert Brasillach was an example and De Gaulle himself minced few words rationalizing the verdict. "In literature as in everything, talent confers responsibility." And that was that. On February 6, 1945 Brasillach crumpled in front of a firing squad.
Imagine this legal principle of "intellectual crimes" applied after Cuba's liberation to Castro's literary and journalistic collaborators, and with transnational enforcement. The mind reels.
Half the staffs of every publication from The New York Times to Le Monde, would be dangling from nooses. Every publisher save Regnery and Encounter would be sending flowers in loving memory of half their authors. The door of every faculty office of every Liberal Arts professor from Harvard to Georgetown and from Berkley to Oxford would sport an RIP note. Every TV network save Fox would find half its anchors marched to the gallows.
For the record, no Cuban-American has ever advocated anything of this sort. Here's a better analogy for the current news cycle: if Hitler had died in 1944 should the Free French have embraced a Nazi regime headed by Goering, Ribbentrop and Himmler? Would enlightened opinion universally denounce the French who balked at such an accommodation as "hard-liners" and "crackpots?"
According to the Cuba Archive Project headed by scholars Maria Werlau and Dr Armando Lago the Castro regime--with firing squads, forced-labor camps and drownings at sea--has caused an estimated 102,000 Cuban deaths. Cuba was a nation of 6.5 million people in 1960. France was nation of 42 million in 1940--and as mentioned, 172,260 of these died from Nazi policies.
My calculator reveals that Castroites caused an enormously higher percentage of deaths among the people they "liberated" and lavished with free and exquisite healthcare than the Nazis caused among the French they enslaved and tortured with the SS and Gestapo.
The Free French, having lost a much smaller percentage of their compatriots to the Nazis than Cubans lost to the Castroites, demanded the heads of every Nazi, every Nazi collaborator and every person who ever uttered anything nice about a Nazi. At Nuremberg the French helped sentence Goering and Ribbentrop to death. In 1987 they found Lyon Gestapo chief Klaus Barbie in Bolivia, had him extradited, and sentenced him to life in prison. All of this was hailed as justice.
Cuban-Americans merely decline to legitimize the rule of Cuba's Goerings, Ribbentrops, Himmlers and Barbies--which is to say, a regime that killed (proportionately) five times as many of their Cuban compatriots as the Nazis killed French. Yet everywhere from the New York Times, to the Boston Globe to the Orlando Sentinel to the Wall Street Journal, Cuban-Americans are being portrayed as insufferable, reactionary blockheads, and the Republicans they elect as craven and unprincipled hacks. All this for refusing to cuddle up to a Cuba run by Raul Castro, Che Guevara's primary rival as the Cuban regime's chief executioner.
Rumanian General Ion Pacepa was the Soviet bloc's highest ranking intelligence defector. He knew Raul Castro well and shared his insights in a recent National Review article: "Raúl ...has been the brutal head of one of Communism’s most criminal institutions: the Cuban political police. I met him in that capacity. He was cruel and ruthless. Fidel may have conceived the terror that has kept Cuba in the Communist fold, but Raúl has been the butcher. He has been instrumental in the killing and terrorizing of thousands of Cubans."
Note that Pacepa regards Castro's political police as "one of Communism’s most criminal institutions." Coming from a man who learned the ropes of his profession from Stalin's henchmen and who served as Nikolai Ceaucescu's chief spy, this is saying something.
Had Raul Castro only worn a swastika and picked on the French, Miami Cubans and the Republicans they elect would now be hailed as selfless proponents of decency and justice instead of vindictive quacks.
Humberto Fontova is the author of Fidel: Hollywood's Favorite Tyrant, a Conservative Book Club Main Selection.
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