Ave atque vale
Who knows when Fidel Castro actually kicked the bucket? But this weekend his brother decided to let us in on the secret. His presidential term lasted, gosh, an awfully long time, as The New York Times reminded us:
That's one way of putting it. But in the end, when it comes to ruthlessly holding on to power, no one can compete with Her Majesty, and so that piker Castro got relegated to second place, while millions of English, Canadians, Jamaicans, Bahamians, Barbadians, Grenadians, etc, still groan under the jackboot of the Queen.
Elsewhere in the US media, The Nation offered a more local comparison:
Impressive. How exactly did he manage to outlast all those here-today-gone-tomorrow US presidents? As I wrote in Maclean's eight years ago:
Yeah, yeah, but who are you to preach? Back to The Nation:
Get back to us when Trump's first term lasts 49 years. As for that eleventh US president, Barack Obama declared:
Indeed. He "altered the course of individual lives" by ending them. Of those he didn't end, 20 per cent of the population fled the country. Some made it to Miami, others had the course of their lives altered by winding up in a watery grave. Among the many "individual lives" he "altered" was Mercedes Fernandez's, who before taking up residence in Castro's prison had never before had to "defecate parasites six centimeters long". As the Swedish author Johan Norberg remarked:
That's a savage variation of the old gag: I want to die like my dad - peacefully in my sleep, not screaming in terror, like his bus passengers. And it's entirely appropriate, even if Mr Norberg's Twitter followers don't care for the cut of his jib. On the other hand, Britain's Leader of the Opposition, Jeremy Corbyn, offered a more nuanced judgment:
To those of us old-fashioned enough to prefer simple, unadorned "justice" to "social justice", the latter's modish and capricious priorities inevitably set you on the path to tyranny, mass incarceration, and blood on the floor. So I have no particular quarrel with Mr Corbyn's assessment. But I wonder what particular strand of "social justice" he thinks Castro "championed"? Gay rights?
It's fine for the louche salons of British socialists, but don't try it in Havana, where "under Article 303a of the country's Penal Code, 'publicly manifested' homosexuality remains illegal".
Justin Trudeau enjoys "publicly manifested homosexuality" so much he's the first Prime Minister of Canada to march in the annual LGBTQWERTY parade. If he were minded to "publicly manifest" his enthusiasm in Cuba, he'd be arrested: "Social justice" isn't quite as sociable there as it is in Toronto. But don't let a little thing like that get in the way of some A-grade dictatorial crawling...
I don't know about that, but Justin's pa certainly had a deep and lasting affection for chaps who style themselves "el Comandante". When Pierre Trudeau resigned as Prime Minister in 1984, he took Justin and his siblings on a vacation to Siberia because "that's where the future is being made". The Siberian future went belly up within a decade, but its Caribbean subsidiary somehow clung on:
That's because Castro was one of just three "world leaders" who showed up for Pierre Trudeau's obsequies. As I wrote way back when:
But cut poor old Trudeau fils some slack. Fidel might have been a bit uptight and stand-offish when Justin took him for a tour of Montreal's village gai, but the guy did show up for the funeral. Jean-Claude Juncker can claim no such personal connection. Who's M Juncker? He's the alleged "President" of "Europe". Whether or not Castro was a real president, Cuba is at least a real country. In that sense, M Juncker is doubly disadvantaged. But as one "president" to another he was anxious to show solidarity:
He was certainly a hero to "President" Juncker, who feels the same way about Brexit and other EU referenda that Castro felt about elections. As I wrote back in 2008:
Was Fidel sound on climate change? Or was he as iffy about that as he was with all those bourgeois sodomites? No matter:
And so, as evidenced by this weekend's droologies, it has. "Holding on to power" longer than anyone but the Queen, Castro even more impressively held the affections of the drawing rooms of the western left. As the headline of my Maclean's column summarized it:
And love means never having to say you're sorry, no matter how many individual lives he "alters".
~Today, Monday, I'll be checking in with the great Stuart Varney, live on Fox Business, at 11.30am Eastern/8.30am Pacific. If you're in the presence of the receiving apparatus, I hope you'll dial us up.
~Our Ave atque vale eulogies department will be branching out into a novel television format as part of my new nightly TV extravaganza, The Mark Steyn Show, which starts a week from today - Monday December 5th. You can find out more about The Mark Steyn Show here.
from Ave atque vale, November 28, 2016
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