Lincoln and Marti Turned in Their Graves

Wednesday, April 6, 2016
Embracing tyrants doesn't raise their standards. To the contrary -- it lowers the standards of those who embrace them.

Case and point is an oped today by a Cuban-American businessman, Mike Fernandez, in Univision's online portal.

In short, Fernandez argues:  If given the choice between free speech, multi-party elections and being a "cuentapropista", the Cuban people would choose being a "cuentapropista."

Of course, we'd argue: Let's ask them in an open, democratic process. (Never mind that Fernandez doesn't realize his entire premise is an oxymoron.)

Elecciones para que?

He claims to already know the answer because he's asked them "at street corners in Havana."

Fernandez is part of a handful of Cuban-American businessmen who joined President Obama during his recent trip to Havana. According to The Miami Herald, they were "helping the Cuban people" by hanging out with Castro's apparatchiks at the military-owned Hotel Saratoga. There, they enjoyed "a feast of delicacies most Cubans can only dream of: smoked salmon, prosciutto, dates, figs, four types of soft cheeses."

These businessmen like to use "cuentapropismo" as a scapegoat. But U.S. law doesn't impede transactions with "cuentapropistas" -- it's Castro that limits their freedom. What they are lobbying for is the U.S. Congress to lift sanctions on business with Castro's state monopolies, fully equipped with slave labor, stolen properties, et al.

They discard that freedom and democracy didn't stem from capitalism. It's the other way around.

They ignore that The Wealth of Nations didn't precede The Magna Carta. It's the other way around.

They forget that they were successful due to the freedom and democracy that Americans enjoy. That our freedoms and democracy aren't secondary to making a profit. That they would not have made their profits without freedom and democracy.

This is precisely why business groups are losing the American people. It's why fringe candidates have amassed such large followings. They have subjugated America's freedom-first agenda to one of profits-first.

Fernandez admits that economic engagement hasn't resulted in rights and freedoms for the people of China and Vietnam, but that we should instead recognize the "progress" there. Progress akin to Mussolini making the trains run on time, we presume.

But here's the kicker:

In this latest effort to relegate freedom and democracy, Fernandez summons the leadership of Abraham Lincoln and Jose Marti.

Lincoln and Marti must have turned in their graves.

Abraham Lincoln didn't relegate the freedom of slaves to Northern manufacturer's desire to purchase cheap cotton from Southern plantation owners. To the contrary.

Jose Marti didn't relegate the freedom of the Cuban people to Spain's mercantilism and the business interests of the merchant "criollos" that enabled it. To the contrary.

And neither Lincoln or Marti believed that the way to end slavery and colonialism was to embrace and forgive its perpetrators, particularly as they continued oppressing its people.

Fernandez doesn't seem to know much about Abraham Lincoln. But during his time, Lincoln clearly knew men like Fernandez, whom he shamed:

"On the question of liberty, as a principle, we are not what we have been. When we were the political slaves of King George, and wanted to be free, we called the maxim that 'all men are created equal' a self evident truth; but now when we have grown fat, and have lost all dread of being slaves ourselves, we have become so greedy to be masters that we call the same maxim 'a self evident lie.'"

-- August 15, 1855, Letter to George Robertson