Monday, March 20, 2006

Relative Freedom

News coverage to-day of the world-wide, and yet numerically insignificant Iraq war protests calls to mind an unnoted and, apparently, insignificant event that occurred in Cuba about a month ago.

1 million Cubans - out of a total population of 11.5 million, showed up to walk along the Malecon on Havana to protest US policies Iraq and other places around the world (Venezuela being much in the news at that time). The American networks ignored it completely - the lead story on CNN was about a stolen penguin in London, England.

I read afterward in some neo-con posting that the Cubans were 'forced' to participate. I was in Cuba that week and where I was (Cayo Guillermo on the north shore) nobody had to go anywhere. If it wasn't for the TV coverage leading up to and including the day, it was everything as usual.

One of the notable things was the giant electronic 'news ticker' attached to the upper stories of the US mission building in Havana. This gizmo blinks out reassuring messages about 'freedom' to the liberty-starved Cuban masses and encourages revolution, and overthrow of the Cuban 'tyrants', by the downtrodden. The Cubans have recently erected a bank of flags to obscure its messages.

I wonder just how long a similar gizmo on the side of some foreign legation in Philadelphia, or Milwaukee, would last before the incensed citizens of America, with righteous indignation, tore it down, maybe a day, two? In Washington I wouldn't bet on a life span of more that 4 hours. The Cubans appear to be overly tolerant.

Freedom is relative. America has freedom to do things 'because she can', the rest of us have freedom to do things 'because the America lets us'.

No comments: