Senator Marco Rubio gave a very impressive speech last month on the crisis in Venezuela and the situation in Cuba. This came directly after Senator Tom Harkin visited Cuba, praising every aspect of the nation during his time there. He spoke magnificently of the Cuban government, its health care capabilities, and how “great” the country really is. Rubio immediately shot back at Sen. Harkin in this somewhat unplanned speech, bypassing the usual political correctness displayed by politicians in Washington.
After seeing this speech by Rubio and hearing the things that Sen. Harkin had to say about Cuba, it led me to wonder how an American politician could say such nice things about a nation that is nothing short of a dictatorship. Do his American leftist beliefs coincide with the radical beliefs of the leaders of Cuba? Not really. Sen. Harkin was simply putting on display a trend that exists in the United States. He was tying to be politically correct, and wanted to show that he does not think the United States is any better than Cuba–a country imprisoned by corrupt government.
There is a trend in the United States, which is not exactly new, of saying anti-American things in order to appear level-headed. Being proud of America, and of being an American, results in looks of confusion and hostile responses, especially if one were to even hint at the idea that the United States has made a positive impact on the world. It is far more acceptable to be sorry for the atrocities the United States has caused with her blood-soaked, oil-greedy hands.
This expected anti-Americanism, interestingly enough, parallels the anti-success sentiments that we have come to know and love: the United States is, to the world, what the wealthy and successful are to our own liberal political culture. And the leftists are treating it as such. Because of this, it is “bold” and “intellectual” to discredit the American way, or to fantasize about the bright future of despotic rule. Anything else would simply be biased.
The President has spoken about the lack of exceptionalism in the American way. It is also very prevalent in our media: we recently saw NBC declare Russia, as it marched with hammer and sickle, “one of modern history’s pivotal experiments.” Experiment? Tyrannies that have caused innumerable deaths are now classified as experiments? Of course not. But what else could NBC have said? Could they have proclaimed that the history of Russia and the USSR is a great example of how a society should not be run? If that had happened, I would have expected an apology days later for the American arrogance that they expressed by talking negatively about another nation’s way of life.
Marco Rubio’s speech was really a sight for sore eyes. His temperament said it all: he was pissed. He was sick of the sugarcoated BS that spews from the mouths of all politicians in the name of fairness. He straight-talked about the situations in both Cuba and Venezuela, saying things that most politicians would be too scared to say out of fear of seeming to disapprove of other nations and favor their own.
Whenever I come across a topic like this, it reminds me of Tony Blair’s 2003 speech to congress. This is by far my favorite part of his speech:
And I know it’s hard on America, and in some small corner of this vast country, out in Nevada or Idaho or these places I’ve never been to, but always wanted to go…I know out there there’s a guy getting on with his life, perfectly happily, minding his own business, saying to you, the political leaders of this country, “Why me? And why us? And why America?” And the only answer is, “Because destiny out you in this place in history, in this moment in time, and the task is yours to do.”
Blair is honest and poetic. He makes it clear that, in a time period that will be riddled with uncertainties of all kinds, the United States is the nation that will have the greatest impact. This is not a statement that would come from the mouth of a modern politician begging to be viewed as fair to all nations. This is a clear statement that this type of pseudo-evenhandedness in world affairs will accomplish nothing. Making Cuba out to be a prosperous nation is a sham, and Rubio knows that. People that only receive news that is filtered through their government are not free. A country in which the people would much rather escape their borders that remain present is not prosperous.
Disguising anti-Americanism by proclaiming the magnificence of clearly unstable nations is a backwards approach to world politics.
This same trend appears in even the most nonpolitical places within academia. I’m currently taking an introductory astronomy course, and we recently reviewed the past discoveries of planets and other solar objects. When speaking of American discoveries in space (which make up a great deal of modern astronomy), my professor purposefully downplayed American discoveries while exaggerating the impacts of other nations. It was as if being proud of all the great American accomplishments would have been a public embarrassment.
As Rubio made clear, the nation of Cuba has no problem with and even supports the corrupt government of Venezuela. Should we, as a nation, accept this support offered by one unstable state to another in the name of fairness? Or should we, the only nation capable of doing so, speak truthfully about the horrors of the Cuban and Venezuelan governments? Should we act upon those truths, and risk displaying the “American arrogance” that so many people are too terrified to speak of?
Of course we should. When lives are lost, and entire populations are held captive by their government, political correctness must be thrown in the trash. Cuba is not a great place, Senator Harkin. Please realize that your posh-lost attempt at seeming rational and fair is doing much more damage than you may think.
Daniel Pellegrino | Franklin and Marshall College | @dannpellegrino