Anguish or Alleviation? The Media Disagrees on Castro’s Legacy

In the days following Fidel Castro’s death, it seems as though the world is split in half between those mourning and those celebrating.

Some of the mourners are not who you might expect.

The dictator’s reign lasted nearly 50 years and continues vicariously through his brother, Raul Castro. The socialist regime came to be after Castro overthrew President Fulgencio Batista in 1953, implementing a one-party, socialist state under the Communist Party.

Throughout the duration of his power, the United States actively attempted several times to remove Castro from power through assassination attempts, invasions and an economic embargo.

Castro’s reign caused tensions between Cuba and America during the Cold War with the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962, and his policies led to blatant human rights violations and the exile of over 1.5 million Cubans.

He has always been and remains an enemy of the United States.

So why are some media outlets and American politicians praising the dictator’s life?

The New York Times covered Castro’s death by labeling him “the fiery apostle of revolution” and glorifies his leadership by claiming that, “he dominated his country with strength and symbolism from the day he triumphantly entered Havana…”

The article does allude to the negative opinions of the dictator, but repeatedly counters each negative with a promotion of his successes.

“To many, Fidel Castro was a self-obsessed zealot whose belief in his own destiny was unshakable, a chameleon whose economic and political colors were determined more by pragmatism than by doctrine. But in his chest beat the heart of a true rebel.”

ABC News coverage of Castro’s death remained fairly neutral, recognizing both the positive and negative aspects of his rule, noting, “now the world will see how the new era of Cuban-American diplomacy changes…it may be no longer Fidel Castro’s Cuba.”

Similarly, CBS News took a critical position when evaluating the future of Cuba:

“Castro took power in 1959, persecuting and killing dissenters and isolating his country from much of the world. He also clashed with 10 American presidents and nearly sparked a nuclear war over the Cuban missile crisis.”

MSNBC’s Chris Matthews opened his discussion of Castro by saying, “we all liked him…but then he betrayed us.” Guests Jose Diaz-Balart and Soledad O’Brien clashed over the justifications of the murder and imprisonment conducted on behalf of Castro.

However, some media figures have adamantly justified Castro’s rule. Fox News’ Geraldo Rivera countered the negative perspective of the dictator by saying, “it’s very easy to have the simplistic view that he was all awful for Cuba and the world, and I don’t think that’s accurate. I think the Cubans have a tremendous sense of pride over his legacy and I think he will be remembered fondly…”

New York Times correspondent Helene Cooper argued on “Meet the Press” that too many people have an “America-centric view of Cuba. Which is Castro as the, you know, Satanic demon that the United States, and in many ways he has been, but I think what President Obama’s statement reflects is that nobody in the rest of the world sort of agrees with you…So there is a lot of ambivalence when you look at Fidel Castro that’s usually not reflected here and I think what President Obama’s statement was doing was reflecting that.”

A montage compiled by National Review of other similar ‘praises’ of Castro in the media over the past few days can be found here.

Sure, Castro’s socialist approach has led to implementations of such idealistic policies and programs as free healthcare and education systems, and a strong sense of nationalism.

But these few golden eggs have come at the expense of basic human rights, such a freedom of speech and press, the absence of political discourse and elections, widespread poverty, no internet access, to name a few.

Even worse, these socialist programs have led to the exile, imprisonment, and execution of millions of Cubans over the duration of Castro’s reign.

With so many negatives to outweigh the positives, how can any Westernized country support the leadership of Fidel Castro?

It is concerning to see how public figures and outlets are justifying so much oppression and harm to a group of people at the hands of one man.

Our country actively advocates for democracy in its truest form, and many of the figures praising Castro are the same ones who incessantly advocate for human rights.

Even America’s token self-proclaimed Socialist, Senator Bernie Sanders, does not believe Castro deserves praise, so why are so many others dishing it out?

The mourners and celebrators will process Castro’s death in their own ways, but if anything, the world should look forward to the future of Cuba and all of the potential that comes in the wake of a fallen dictator.

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