Monday, November 05, 2007

Greatness recognized

President Bush today will award the Presidential Medal of Freedom to the inspirational Cuban dissident and human rights activist Oscar Biscet. As you would expect, Biscet will not be there to accept the honor, as he is stuck in the Cuban gulag for 25 years after having had the temerity to speak out against Castro's policy of infanticide. Telling the truth in Cuba is dangerous business, as you can see from Jeff Jacoby's Biscet tribute in the Boston Globe (a photographed replica of his cell is also included in the article):

"windowless and suffocating, with wretched sanitary conditions. The stench seeping from the pit in the ground that serves as a toilet is intensified by being compressed into an unventilated cell only as wide as a broom closet. . . . Biscet reportedly suffers from osteoarthritis, ulcers, and hypertension. His teeth, those that haven't fallen out, are rotted and infected."

The next time somebody starts spewing the whole Guantanamo narrative, remind them that there are countless thousands across the bay who know all about torture. The real thing, not the kind that exists only in anti-American imagination. What a blessing these prisoners would find spending even a day in such a place as the US facility in Gitmo.

National Review's Jay Nordlinger has written extensively on Biscet (and many other Cuban political prisoners, for that matter) over the years; his latest notes the sad truth that these heroes, who should be worldwide celebrities a la Nelson Mandela, are pretty much ignored by the international media in the attempt to keep the Castro mythology alive:

He is one of the bravest and most inspired of the Cuban political prisoners. He is a physician, an “Afro-Cuban,” a follower of Mohandas Gandhi and Martin Luther King. If he were a prisoner of anyone but Castro — a Communist dictator — he’d be world-famous. If he were a South African, under apartheid, he’d be on the stamps of virtually every country in the world.

Let me continue in this vein: If he were a prisoner under a right-wing dictatorship, he’d be featured on 60 Minutes every week. He’d be on the cover of Time magazine every week. College campuses would hold sit-ins. Biscet’s face would adorn posters and T-shirts. Etc., etc.

Nordlinger also correctly notes that President Bush has "huge brass ones" for doing the right thing here; were that more of our politicians had as much courage. Bush fils has gotten a lot of things wrong in his tenure, but he has also done so many things very, very right.

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