HAVANA TIMES – In an article written in 2018, writer Jorge Fornet complained about the regression of replacing the historic “underhanded umpire” with the vulgar “SOB umpire.” The article focuses on the well-known nickname “Palestinians” (accompanied by insults) that many people in Havana often use when talking about players from the eastern region of the country. It digs into linguistic degradation, especially a loss of humanity, which has spread like a bad weed across the island.
Fornet quotes the sarcastic De Quincey: “If once a man indulges himself in murder, very soon he comes to think little of robbing; and from robbing he comes next to drinking and Sabbath-breaking, and from that to incivility and procrastination. Once begun upon this downward path, you never know where you are to stop.”
This example came to mind when I watched the sickening video of Cubans living in Madrid attacking Israel Rojas and other members of the Buena Fe band in a fast-food restaurant. Shouting. Pushing and shoving. Slapping. Threats. Cheap cockiness. “Get out, chicken. Hold me back, I’ll kill him.”
All of this, supposedly, to stand up to a political rival, and reproach his support for the totalitarian regime in a public space.
Let’s say in the name of Freedom.
But it’s all bad, really bad, if to defend freedom, you have to use the same vile methods – used by those who have prostituted and tyrannized our people.
I won’t be simple-minded and compare these violences. While they are all condemnable, because of their terrible results, they don’t all stem from the same source or have the same impact on people’s lives, families, and countries.
Hate crimes are a shameful mechanism dear to the Cuban Party/State/Government unit over the past six decades. There is no comparison between one – with mass mobilization, resources and coordination of forces and institutions to publicly humiliate and cancel helpless citizens -, and the attack led by a group of emigres anywhere in this world against anyone they consider to be a spokesperson or supporter of this dictatorial bloc.
Just like you can’t draw a direct comparison between the US police officer’s knee that suffocated George Floyd and the fist of any Black person in that country that is thrusted in a moment of rage against a representative of the power that discriminates against them. One blow has an entire repressive State apparatus behind it; while the other is just minorities expressing their outrage.
That said we must fight non-stop to stop any of these. Emancipation and justice come in a civilized, legal manner, as is proper of thinkers after millennia of culture. Sounds too idealistic? It does. But people also dreamed of utopias in previous centuries, and they are the accomplishments of equity and fellowship in many countries today.
Buena Fe has the right to support the system they want, just like Cuban emigres of any political stripe have the right to oppose them. They must all face the consequences of this, of course: criticism, rejection, boycott; even legal claims, when the case and due process call for it.
Bridging the gap, what do we do with the millions of US citizens who support Donald Trump, a person who oozes misogyny, xenophobia and so many other beauties? Do we line them all up against the wall to be executed by firing squad?
Violence is spreading in Cuba and its diaspora. Across the world too. It’s a terrible pandemic, which there don’t seem to be too many vaccines for. However, infection can and should be prevented.
Recently, professor Alina Barbara Lopez wrote the following in response to the abominable scene in which two police officers beat up a young man in Ciego de Avila to the tune of the slogan: “I’m a Communist, it’s so great…”: “When you have to threaten, humiliate, beat, drag and degrade other people to defend an ideology or political tendency, whatever it may be; it doesn’t matter what you call this political sympathy, it’s an outrage, unnatural and should be condemned.”
The same applies for other scenarios and situations of the same nature.
We can oppose this. Argue about it. We can stand up to each other. Even, vehemently. But this always needs to be within the human limit of what we’ve come to call “civilization”. Isn’t this what democracy is all about? As we all know, the rest is going back to a time when the problem between Cro-Magnons was solved by smashing another person’s skull with a rock. Is that the future we want?