Cuba and Kristallnacht: The Lessons

Ken Blackwell is Senior Fellow for Family Empowerment and Bob Morrison is Senior Fellow for Policy Studies at Family Research Council. This article appeared in The American Thinker on January 9, 2015.

The left in the U.S. and throughout Western democracies are excited, of course, over President Obama’s decision the week before Christmas to restore “normal” diplomatic relations with Cuba. This has been a long-sought goal of the left wing of the Democratic Party here and among the Socialists in Europe.

Raùl Castro is the successor to his dictator brother, Fidel. The younger Castro hailed the end of Cuba’s diplomatic and economic isolation by the U.S. But in a speech to Cuba’s puppet parliament, he could not resist sneering at the president. In a telling phrase almost buried in the New York Times report of his speech, Cuba’s current Communist dictator boasted: “WE WON THE WAR.”

Raùl Castro has always been the colorless brother, content to rule in the shadows of the more florid Fidel. But that does not mean his drab and dull demeanor equates to any softening of his iron rule. “As minister of defense, Raùl Castro began to organize an extensive security and intelligence service. [He] reinstituted military tribunals and soon the firing squad became a judicial weapon.” Thus does the Black Book of Communism describe Raùl’s unique contribution to Cuban life. Such had never existed in Cuba’s 400-year history. Even under Spanish misrule. Even under various tinpot dictators.

And the Castro brothers relied on the world entrancing figure of Ché Guevara to give their revolution the swagger they sought. Not like Khrushchev and Brezhnev -- those drunken fatties -- Ché was thought to handsome and cool. In fact, he was Charlie Manson with a Manifesto.

He put the chic in radical chic. His bearded image, flowing hair and a rakish beret was worn on tee shirts by young rebels, from Woodstock to the barricades of Paris.

Here’s what Ché had to say about his use of terror to achieve world Communism:

He praised that “extremely useful hatred that turns men into effective, violent, merciless, and cold killing machines.” By any means necessary?

This is the character of the regime that President Obama now seeks to appease. This is the nature of the beast we are dealing with ninety miles off our shores. Raùl Castro made a point of rubbing Mr. Obama’s nose in it when he spoke to his captive audience in Havana. He showed off Eliàn Gonzalez, now 21, as a chief prize of the Cuban Revolution. When Eliàn was just six, his mother died bringing him to freedom in a leaky boat. She and her little boy braved shark-infested waters to seek freedom in Miami. And then, on Easter Morning, Bill Clinton ordered the child snatched from the loving arms of his Cuban-American family. Employing a heavily-armed SWAT team, Eliàn was grabbed and returned to Cuban Communist indoctrination. Now, he is a pet of the regime, a Castro-trained apparatchik.

And, of course, Raùl Castro has ordered another series of arrests of Cuban dissidents. No new dawn of freedom for them. This won’t be like a botched ObamaCare rollout. Raùl Castro has had fifty years of practice in running the machinery of repression.

Some people are surprised that Raùl Castro would act to precipitately in cracking down on Cuban freedom advocates. But why the surprise? Why shouldn’t he take full advantage of the new lease on life President Obama has given his creaking totalitarian rule?

In 1938, Hitler met Britain’s Prime Minister Chamberlain and Premier Daladier of France at Munich. He would later say, with contempt, that he took the measure of these men there: "I saw them at Munich. They are little worms."

After they had most unwisely surrendered to his demands, and yielded up the freedom of Czechoslovakia to him, he waited barely three weeks before unleashing his brutal Kristallnacht. This Night of Shattered Glass was a nationwide pogrom in Germany, killing hundreds of Jews, smashing thousands of Jewish homes, shops, and synagogues.

Winston Churchill arose in Parliament to protest and to point to the inevitable results of Chamberlain’s appeasement. He exposed the folly of that umbrella toting Prime Minster who had boasted of achieving “Peace in our Time” with Hitler.

“The words were hardly out of [Mr. Chamberlain’s] mouth before the world witnessed this new round of barbarism,” Churchill said.

At least Hitler waited three weeks before acting. Raùl Castro hardly waited three days.