Wednesday, July 01, 2020

End the Cold War Already

When do we get to end the Cold War? This year has been horrible in so many ways, and some icing on the cake is that I am pretty certain I haven't heard "socialist" and "communist" as epithets this much since, well, the actual Cold War. I had been thinking about this, then read this interview between Tim Padgett and Frank Mora, who is stepping down as director of FIU's Latin America & Caribbean Center:

So it's no secret you're a Democrat – but you're a Cuban-American Democrat in Miami. You support engagement with communist Cuba. Twenty years ago, more conservative Cubans might have called you a comunista. Do you still feel like a rare bird here in that sense?

Now you see a majority of Cuban-Americans agreeing with President Trump's view, which is a dramatic change in only a couple of years. But to be frank with you, Tim, that language, that rhetoric is coming back. The use of “socialism” and “communism” to try to discredit those who don't agree with the mainstream Cuban Americans is rearing its head again. And I think it's unfortunate.
This is exactly it. You get Black Lives Matter labeled as communist. AMLO gets criticized for talking to "communist regimes." Florida Governor Rick Scott says "The Communist Party of China is in for world domination…And so it’ll be a pretty dark world." Like we live in the Marvel Universe. And we'd be here all day if I started really listing all the inaccurate, simplistic, and even laughable ways the word "socialism" gets thrown around. Did you know that taking down statues of the Confederacy leads to socialism, because that's what happened in Venezuela? I bet you didn't, but you do now!

And so what does this mean in practice? As former Cuba Chargé d'affaires Jeffrey DeLaurentis put it in a recent op-ed:

It's as if we had regressed to the 1980s, when we looked the other way at the abuses of right-wing dictators and excoriated only those on the left.

That sort of thing in fact has happened since the 1980s (see George W. Bush and John Bolton) and I complained then too. Throw around words like "communist" and "regime," and you get ideological cover to go after your political enemies, wherever you might find them.

When will we finally be free of the Cold War? The example of the Confederacy tells us it could a long time, perhaps even long after you and I are long gone. The symbols of the Confederacy are a great cover for racism--hey, it's just heritage! "Communism" is also a convenient and tidy cover, and ideologues don't give those up easily.


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