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This Month's Scripture Verse:

Whoever loves money never has enough;
whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with their income.
This too is meaningless -- Ecclesiastes 5:10


Friday, December 2, 2016

"Mourning" Castro's Death

Jeffrey Salkin (click here and read the first biography) wrote about Fidel Castro's death in a blogpost for Religion News Service (click here for the article). There are two distinct features about his article. With the first attribute, what Salkin took away with one hand he gave back with another. With the second one, Salkin shows that any criticism that significantly relies on decontextualization only serves those who lack self-awareness. And we should note that the lack of self-awareness can produce the kind of pharisaicallism demonstrated in Jesus's parable of the two men praying (click here for the parable). It also allows us to prance around like the emperor who had no clothes.

What does Slakin take away that he gives back? It is his rejoicing over Castro's death. For while Salkin says that rejoicing over the death of one's enemy is against his religion, he gives multiple reasons why he should celebrate Castro's death. The first reason is that Castro introduced Salkin to the fear of death via the Cuban missile crisis.  Another reason the significant number of Jewish victims of Castro's revolution. They became victims when they lost their businesses to Castro's nationalization of business. Here, these Jewish victims share some similarities with those Russians who lost their businesses during Lenin's hijacking of the Russian Revolution of October, 1917. Also Jews from Israel have suffered from Castro's support of Palestinian terrorism. However, Salkin is quick to note that Castro also treated Jews with some favorability as demonstrated by his embracing of Jews in Cuba, his allowing for Jewish emigration, and the memorial to the Holocaust located in Havana.

In addition, Salkin condemns the Communism that Castro adhered to. He has attributed, as have several conservatives I have run across, as many as 100 million deaths to Communism. And he unequivocally says 'Communism is a moral and spiritual failure.'

While Salkin gives all of the reasons in the world for why he should rejoice over Castro's death, he says he is prohibited from doing so. Thus, one has to wonder why Salkin lists all of the reasons why he should celebrate Castro's death while saying he doesn't do so. Here we might ask if Salkin himself is as much the focus of this article as Castro is.

As for the second characteristic of this article, we need to look at all of the reasons why Salkin should want to dance on Castro's grave. For example, when Salkin mentions the fear Castro induced via the Cuban Missile Crisis, what he misses is the fact that it was the Soviet Union that put those missiles there because it believed that there was a dangerous, dangerous to them that is, imbalance of power. For not only did the US have far more nuclear weapons than the Soviet Union did, the US had already placed nuclear armed missiles on the USSR's border in Turkey before the USSR even though of placing missiles in Cuba. The American missiles in Turkey posed as much threat to the Soviet Union as the Soviet Union's missiles in Cuba did to the US. This is the first area in which Salkin demonstrates a lack of self-awareness.

Salkin's criticisms of both Communism and Castro's support of terrorism also exhibits a lack of self-awareness. For example, what Salkin calls Communism is really Bolshevism. Here we should note that the Bolsheviks were opposed by the Mensheviks. Both groups claimed to follow Marx. And this is an important point because to be this specific allows us to see that Communism and Socialism are not monoliths. We should also note the criticisms that both Lenin and Stalin received from fellow Marxists. The most telling criticism comes from Rosa Luxemburg when she called Lenin's rule a bourgeoisie dictatorship because the structure of his government imitated the structure practiced by the bourgeoisie in their private sector ventures and businesses (click here). In other words, according to Luxemburg, what Lenin set up in the then new Soviet Union was not a Marxist kind of Socialism. Rather, what he set up was the same kind of rule used by the Tsars. The Tsars practiced totalitarian rule and they were strongly supported by Russia's Capitalists and business owners. Here we should note that what preceded Castro's revolution, a revolution that displaced so many Jewish business owners, was the brutal and corrupt rule of Batista. And we should note that until Castro came onto the scene, the US supported Batista's government.

And while Salkin's criticism of Castro's support of the PLO as a support for terrorism, why can we not make the same claim about any world leader who supports Israel's IDF with military aid? For doesn't the IDF terrorize and kill Palestinian civilians? Here, we should also note that following Castro's revolution but prior to the placing of missiles in Cuba, was not just the Bay of Pigs incident, there were numerous American attacks on Cuban civilian targets. In other words, America practiced terrorism against Castro's Cuba.

It isn't that Castro doesn't deserve to be severely criticized or that Salkin's criticisms of Castro lack merit; it is that before criticizing others, we need to be aware of our own faults and sins.  For without that self-awareness, our criticisms can be unduly harsh. In addition, without self-awareness, our criticisms will lack credibility because we are denying the faults and sins that others can clearly see. We saw examples of this during our last presidential election. Both the Republican and Democratic establishments could not derail Donald Trump's candidacy because while correctly noting his faults, they failed to admit their own failures and thus people rejected their messages because that denial of faults meant that there would be no change in the future. And people wanted change.

This denial of faults that stems from a lack of self-awareness that starts with the decontextualization of what Salking was reacting to.

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