By Hugo J. Byrne

Would it be reasonable or ethical to admire "Baby Face" Nelson while despising Charles Manson? Would it make any sense to abhor Vlad "The Impaler" while embracing Reinhart Heidrich (AKA "The butcher of Prague"), former Nazi "Protector" of Bohemia and Moravia (the words the Nazis used to designate former Czechoslovakia during the German occupation)? Or to loath Mao Zedong and love Adolph Hitler?

It is needless to emphasize that no sophisticated and decent person should fall into such an obvious intellectual and moral contradiction. The historic record indicates that José Martí declined a huge cash contribution to the Cuban independence movement from the notorious road bandit Manuel García. The end, no matter how desirable, should never justify the means. And yet…

While waiting in line to vote on Nov. 2, we noticed a young woman in the adjacent line wearing a purse with the picture of "Che" Guevara on it. It was a copy of the notorious "Korda" photograph that helped so much to create the contrived romantic legend so undeservingly surrounding the deceased Argentinean thug. I have learned over the years to ignore certain things, so, as not to waste my time arguing with idiots, but as a good teacher my wife cannot resist any opportunity to educate the uninformed.

Approaching the girl my wife asked her if she knew whose face was depicted on her purse. Her answer: "Of course, I know who he was. I am a teacher, and I have to teach my class about him."

Never easily discouraged, my wife insisted: "You see, I am a teacher too, and I can tell you that I know that fellow from first hand. He was a mass murderer. While in charge of La Cabaña fortress (ancient Spanish Colonial Dungeon used by Castro to imprison and kill his opponents) Guevara sent almost two thousand innocent Cubans to the gallows and tens of thousands to long prison terms without due process. Guevara was Castro's main executioner. Do you know any real details about his life?" Her question was answered with a blank stare.

After a hostile pause, came the usual retort to end the discussion: "You see, there are two sides to any story, and this is a free country." That brought the intervention of yours truly: "This is a free country in part because that gentleman was prevented from getting his way. That portrait in your purse is as offensive to us, free Cubans, as a Hitler picture would be to Jewish people. Good bye!"

The previous case is just an example of a dangerous and widespread syndrome. I do not think much of the sophistication or intellectual abilities of the girl in the voting line, but she is certainly not alone in succumbing to what Jean-Françoise Revel rightly called "The totalitarian temptation." Let's consider the award winning movie director Steven Speilberg. Could a second class mind produce such a notable work of art as Academy Award winner "Schindler's List"? In Speilberg's case, is it ignorance or more likely, moral corruption?

Speilberg is not just a regular admirer of Fidel Castro. He has the highest regard for the Cuban tyrant. The director of "Saving Private Ryan" once spent a number of hours chatting with Castro in Havana as his guest of honor, and ever since he has done as much as anybody -in and out of Hollywood- to promote and propagandize the totalitarian agenda of the aging dictator.

Speilberg stated that his hours visiting with Castro were "the most important moments of his life." If we take that statement at face value, Castro's visit was more important to Spielberg than the time when his son was born and more intense occasion than those when he received awards for his artistic achievements. Could he be ignorant of the fact that he is befriending a Caribbean Hitler? How could anyone supposedly so sensitive to human suffering, feel that close to such a mass killer?

Worse, Speilberg knows for sure that Bin Laden is not the top terrorist in recent history. Castro long ago earned that dubious title, and Speilberg cannot claim ignorance of the fact. Had the Cuban despot got his way during the so-called "Missile" crisis of 1962, the loss of life and destruction in the United States would have made the tragedy of September 11 look like child's play. The record of Castro's vile wishes, confirmed by the former Soviet bosses, is at the same time horrendous and indisputable.

The only difference in fortunes between Bin Laden and Castro is that the Taliban demonstrated to be a much more reliable ally than The Soviet Union. The Afghan rulers, prime state terrorists themselves, backed Alqaeda to the bitter end. The entrenched Soviets, fat and corrupted to the core and with its own survival at stake, fortunately balked at Castro's extreme demands in 1962.

However, that undeniable fact is either ignored or purposely disregarded, not only by Speilberg, but also by almost every other Hollywood "celebrity." Many of them are in open political cahoots with the "Comandante." One among the notable exceptions is that of the great actor Robert Duvall; another one is of course, the Cuban American Andy García.

Robert Redford, a notorious Castro supporter, promised to leave the U.S. -and move to Ireland, not Cuba-, in the event of President Bush's reelection. We all should pray that Redford is a man of his word, but I am skeptical. That wealthy, shameless coward cannot be trusted.

I suggest that this incongruous make-believe "Band of half-wit brothers" could be the theme for another possible award-winning film by Speilberg, one depicting how competent professional actors and directors can simultaneously behave in such a naïve or dishonest fashion. The vilest intentions are often cloaked as "idealism." This movie would cast a pack of would be "Indiana Joneses" being played by a bunch of very obviously phony "Forrest Gumps."


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