Why are they doing this?

Uh, this must be part of that “culture of life” I always hear right-wingers babbling on about.

The city of Miami is planning an official celebration at the Orange Bowl for whenever Cuban President Fidel Castro dies.

Discussions by a committee appointed earlier this month by the city commission to plan the event have even covered issues such as a theme to be printed on T-shirts, what musicians would perform, the cost and how long the celebration would last.

Such a gathering has long been part of the city’s plan for Castro’s death, but firming up the specifics has been more urgent since Castro became ill last summer and turned over power to his brother, Raul.

City commissioner Tomas Regalado, a Cuban-American, came up with the idea of using the Orange Bowl, noting that the stadium was the site of a speech by President John F. Kennedy in 1961 promising a free Cuba, and that in the 1980s it served as a camp for refugees from the Mariel boat lift from Cuba.

“Basically, the only thing we’re trying to do is have a venue, a giant venue ready for people, if they wish, to speak to the media, to show their emotions. It’s not that we’re doing an official death party,” Regalado said Monday.

Oh, of course not. That would be vulgar and obscene, not to mention morbid. No, better to couch it as an exercise in free speech; that always gets better airplay. Funny, though, how this sort of laudable venue for free speech would require such an, uh, unusual occasion to facilitate.

I have an idea: why doesn’t the local planning commission put up a permanent “Speaker’s Corner”, such as CityTV has in Toronto, so people can spill their guts to the camera and so get their say in the media whenever the show goes to air? Or, more humbly and publicly, how about the original Speakers’ Corner, in Hyde Park, London? Surely it wouldn’t take much cash outlay, or nearly as much organization, as this “good riddance, Fidel, you fucking bastard” bash is taking now.

Oh, I know, I know…Miami is too busy organizing other worthy things, like single-payer healthcare or decent public schools, affordable housing, a better standard of living, tackling poverty and homelessness, and building the middle class. Isn’t it?

What? It isn’t?

Well, holy crap! That just blows my mind. I thought people came from Cuba to America for FREEDOM. I must have a different concept of freedom than they do, though, because to me, the word means the following:

  • democratic government (by, of and for the people, preferably participatory to the greatest possible extent; representative government tends to be problematic on the grounds of whom it often ends up representing.)
  • a social safety net, comprising among other things:
  • single-payer medicare
  • public education
  • affordable housing
  • a decent standard of living for everyone
  • low crime rates, especially murder and guncrime
  • publicly owned and operated utilities
  • living wages for all workers
  • a living welfare rate for all who can’t (or won’t, for whatever reason. Note that I said a living rate, not a luxurious one like what your basic big corporate CEO enjoys at taxpayer expense for not working.)
  • women’s right to full reproductive choice
  • ecological sustainability
  • peace, whether on Earth or of mind
  • a bill of rights and oh yeah, FREEDOMS.

As you can see, my concept of freedom is one of freedom from tyranny, want, abuse and fear. Not one of “freedom isn’t free”, which demands that those who have the least must consistently give the most (particularly their lives in war.) Not one of “freedom for me, but not for thee”. And certainly not the “freedom” of the flibbertigibbertarians, either, who think private ownership of everything, with no commons whatsoever, is the way to go. At that rate, everyone will live in his own prison, but hey, at least he owns the cell and has the convenient illusion of control over it–until, invariably, the Invisible Hand of the Market sticks in its thumb and pulls out a plum! And above all else, my concept of freedom is not “I get to do whatever I want, damn the consequences and fuck you.”

No, my concept of freedom is clearly not dependent on the vagaries of the market or the foibles of human nature. Nor is it dependent on the charity of the religious (laudable though that may be.) It does not elevate the rights of the individual above the greater good of all, because I frankly do not believe that any individual’s rights mean a damn if the greater good of all is not in place first. Self-realization cannot happen in a vacuum, no matter what any flibbertigibbertarian may say. A system that facilitates self-realization is needed; no one can pull himself up by the bootstraps unless he first has boots. And for that, there has to be a system in place–a boot factory, as it were. Consider a democratic society with a social safety net to be that factory. And please spare me the argument in favor of a “free market” boot factory, which generates a great deal of faddish, expensive landfill but not boots that you can walk very far in. I don’t buy that crap, no matter who’s selling.

But if I’m not buying, hey howdy, Miami is. They buy a lot of fashionable crap there, which no doubt explains the great social inequities that are visible even on a map. (The fashionable crap sells less well in the poorer neighborhoods, oddly enough–must be that lower purchasing power those huddled masses have, that I’m hearing so much about.)

I read Los Blogueros regularly, and here’s what the female half of the pair has to say about it all:

I know many people who left Miami because of the poor quality of the schools, the crime rates, the pollution and other quality-of-life problems…well, with such leaders of reason nothing gets regulated.

Oh, and they also complain about the lack of freedom in the zone where no one speaks ill of Fidel Castro, or where they defend, however indirectly, whatever has happened in Cuba since 1959.

Translation mine.

La Bloguera includes a picture of a black man begging on a glitzily-lit street of Miami, pithily commenting that “this is something you won’t see in Havana”. I suspect she doesn’t mean that it’s for lack of freedom there, either.

Speaking of things you won’t see, here are a couple of things you won’t see in the mainstream US media, that bastion of freedom:

“Chavez follows Cuban energy saving model”. Um, this would fall under ecological sustainability, would it not? That’s one of my tenets of freedom right there. Imagine being free from blackouts, and reasonably free from pollution, too. Can the self-regulating “free market” boast of that? Shockingly, no!

“Cuban biotechnology working for healthcare”. Heavens, how is this possible with no corporations or profit motive whatsoever? Not only does Cuba have a working public health system which is both preventive and efficient in treating illness (and envied throughout Latin America), it also has a biotech industry that’s logged several impressive successes. (I’ve blogged on these, by the way; see here and follow the easy, convenient linkies.)

Granted, Cuba is not perfect either, but on more t
han one front, they do have Miami licked. And like it or not, they couldn’t have done it without Fidel. I hope those planning to celebrate his death bear in mind what would have happened if Batista had remained in power.

Or, at the very least, to be fair, they should celebrate the freedom and independence of the unacknowledged 51st US state–Puerto Rico!

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