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The New York Times vs. Accurate Cuban History By: Humberto Fontova
FrontPageMagazine.com | Thursday, February 19, 2009

Most Americans applaud “parental involvement” in their children's education. But a recent New York Times editorial decries it.

In 2006, Miami parents discovered a children's book entitled Let's Go to Cuba, which depicts Stalinist Cuba as a combination of Emerald City and Willie Wonka's Chocolate Factory, stocked in the city's public school libraries. Some American parents of Cuban heritage in Miami, many of them former Castro political prisoners with the scars to prove it, filed a complaint with the Miami-Dade school board that the book was factually inaccurate. The school board ultimately voted to remove the book.

“Miami-Dade School Board Bans Cuba Book!” thundered a New York Times headline of the time. The ACLU filed suit to retain the book.

Last week, a federal appeals panel in Atlanta ruled that the Miami-Dade School Board has “the right to apply accuracy as a criteria for educational purposes.” The appeals court noted that the book indeed “contained factual errors that distorts what life is like in that dictatorship.” Indeed, a Supreme Court ruling in 1982 by William Brennan fuled that local school boards had “broad discretion in the management of school affairs,” adding that if they removed a book based on it's “educational suitability” such actions “would not be unconstitutional.” Thus, the book “ban” stands, as have hundreds of others over the years, nationwide.

The New York Times quickly set ink to paper. “Banning Books in Miami,” blares their editorial headline from February 10. “The Miami-Dade School Board’s decision is not only unconstitutional, it is counterproductive. If the (local school) board wants to oppose the totalitarianism of the Castro regime, banning books is an odd way to go about it.”

The Old Gray Lady's definition of “book banning” has an exceedingly selective application. Any of her reporters could have contacted the American Library Association and discovered that between 1990 and 2000, more than 6,000 protests were lodged against school books in public school libraries by American parents. Over the past two decades, there have been between 400 and 600 such schoolbook protests in the U.S. each year, much of it over material considered “racially insensitive,” such as The Adventure's of Huckleberry Finn, Uncle Remus, and Sambo. For every protest recorded, the group estimates that four or five go unreported.

In short, attempted “book bannings” identical to the one in Miami-Dade have occurred at a rate of more than one a day for past two and half decades. But these involved no disrespect to Fidel Castro or Che Guevara, and the ACLU and New York Times have been conspicuously mum. Yet when Fidel and company are involved, the ACLU promptly blasts its bugles, their media cronies affect grave frowns, and cries of “censorship” and “book-banning” flood the air.

It is not as if Cuba lacks for glowing coverage. Already dozens of such volumes, from Che Guevara's Guerrilla War: A Method (from someone who never fought in a guerrilla war) to Fidel Castro's own History Will Absolve Me already blanket the literary landscape and overwhelmingly influence America's and most of the world's academic and media depictions of Cuba, hence their almost uniform absurdity. Some Miami-Dade taxpayers have simply balked at subsidizing it. Many Miami parents' have scars on their bodies and pictures of murdered loved ones that refute the idiocies taught to their children in the schools they themselves pay for

Apparently, Cuban-Americans have a better appreciation of their adopted founding fathers, than does the eminent staff of the New York Times. It was thomas Jefferson who wrote, “To compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of opinions which he disbelieves and abhors is sinful and tyrannical.”

Instead of the American founding, the New York Times aches for its former days of glory—when every imbecility on Fidel Castro the Times and other leftist media outlets reported established Beltway talking points:

  • “Fidel Castro has strong ideas of liberty, democracy, social justice, the need to restore the Constitution....but it amounts to a new deal for Cuba, radical, democratic and therefore anti-Communist.” (Herbert Matthews, New York Times, February 1957.)
  • “This is not a Communist Revolution in any sense of the term. Fidel Castro is not only not a Communist, he is decidedly anti-Communist.” (Herbert Matthews, New York Times, July 1959.)
  • "It would be a great mistake even to intimate that Castro's Cuba has any real prospect of becoming a Soviet satellite.” (Walter Lippmann, The Washington Post, July 1959.)
  • “Fidel Castro is a good young man trying to do what's best for Cuba. We should extend him a hand.” (Retired President Harry Truman in July 1959.)
  • “That's a cute Puppy, Fidelito! When will you visit us again? And will that be with the beard or without the beard?” (Edward Murrow, CBS, February 1959.)

Every night during 1959, scores of Cuban patriots crumpled to firing squads while Fidel, Raul, and Che repaired to their respective stolen mansions and met with Soviet GRU agents to button down the complete communization of Cuba. Many Cuban refugees banged desperately on U.S. newsroom and State Department doors trying to get these facts reported. Alas, at the time, this detail did not qualify as among “all the news that's fit to print.”

Fifty years later, nothing has changed.

Humberto Fontova is the author of Exposing the Real Che Guevara and the Useful Idiots Who Idolize Him. Visit www.hfontova.com

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