The group released a public statement concerning the death of Fidel Castro, entitled "Lessons from Fidel: Black Lives Matter and the Transition of El Comandante." Per the statement, Castro is to be praised for his work to assist blacks and other people of color, and his life provides lessons for the budding BLM member. Of course, you might want to ask what has Castro done for blacks?
Well, according to the statement, "We are thankful that he provided a space where the traditional spiritual work of African people could flourish, regardless of his belief system."
Really? According to a 2013 article from The New York Times, Castro hadn't done much for blacks living in Cuba. For instance, the article notes:
Most remittances from abroad — mainly the Miami area, the nerve center of the mostly white exile community — go to white Cubans. They tend to live in more upscale houses, which can easily be converted into restaurants or bed-and-breakfasts — the most common kind of private business in Cuba. Black Cubans have less property and money, and also have to contend with pervasive racism. Not long ago it was common for hotel managers, for example, to hire only white staff members, so as not to offend the supposed sensibilities of their European clientele.And:
Racism in Cuba has been concealed and reinforced in part because it isn’t talked about. The government hasn’t allowed racial prejudice to be debated or confronted politically or culturally, often pretending instead as though it didn’t exist. Before 1990, black Cubans suffered a paralysis of economic mobility while, paradoxically, the government decreed the end of racism in speeches and publications. To question the extent of racial progress was tantamount to a counterrevolutionary act. This made it almost impossible to point out the obvious: racism is alive and well.Apparently, under Castro's revolution, to borrow a phrase from George Orwell, some animals were more equal than others:
If the 1960s, the first decade after the revolution, signified opportunity for all, the decades that followed demonstrated that not everyone was able to have access to and benefit from those opportunities. It’s true that the 1980s produced a generation of black professionals, like doctors and teachers, but these gains were diminished in the 1990s as blacks were excluded from lucrative sectors like hospitality. Now in the 21st century, it has become all too apparent that the black population is underrepresented at universities and in spheres of economic and political power, and overrepresented in the underground economy, in the criminal sphere and in marginal neighborhoods.So, according to BLM, what else did Castro do that was so wonderful? Well, to quote the statement:
As a Black network committed to transformation, we are particularly grateful to Fidel for holding Mama Assata Shakur, who continues to inspire us. We are thankful that he provided a home for Brother Michael Finney Ralph Goodwin, and Charles Hill, asylum to Brother Huey P. Newton, and sanctuary for so many other Black revolutionaries who were being persecuted by the American government during the Black Power era.Who were these wonderful people, you ask? Well, Assata Shakur was a member of the former Black Panther Party (BPP) and Black Liberation Army (BLA), and was convicted in 1977 of the murder of a New Jersey State Trooper in a shootout. She was also linked to other murders, although not convicted. She escaped from prison in 1979, and, in 1984, fled to Cuba where she was given political asylum. In 2005, the FBI listed her as a domestic terrorist, and, in 2013, she gained notoriety as the first woman added to the FBI's Most Wanted Terrorist List. There is currently a $2 million reward on her head.
How about Goodwin, Hill and Finney? Well, they were members of a black militant group called the Republic of New Africa. On November 8, 1971, the three were pulled over by a New Mexico State Police trooper, Robert Rosenbloom. After shooting and killing the officer, the three fled into the desert, leaving their vehicle, weapons, 300 rounds of ammunition, several bombs, and three neatly packed bags. Eighteen days later, the three had made it to Albuquerque, where they hijacked an airliner and were flown to Cuba where they were given shelter. Goodwin reportedly drowned while swimming, but the other two still reside in Cuba.
Huey Newton was a co-founder of the Black Panthers. As would be expected, Newton was associated with the deaths of numerous persons, including Oakland Police Department officer John Frey. However, what got him some prison time was the August 6, 1974, shooting of Kathleen Smith, an 18-year-old Oakland native, who died three months after the shooting. After posting bond, Newton fled to Cuba, where he lived until 1977, until he came back to face trial. However, after a failed assassination attempt of the key prosecution witness by members of the Black Panthers, the witness was sufficiently intimidated and Newton skated on that charge as well. Huey P. Newton was murdered on Aug. 22, 1989.
So, BLM is thankful for Castro providing refuge for murderers. What else? According to the statement:
We are indebted to Fidel for sending resources to Haiti following the 2010 earthquake and attempting to support Black people in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina when our government left us to die on rooftops and in floodwaters.The Wikipedia page on relief efforts for Haiti mention that Cuba had previously placed doctors in the Haiti, who were among the first responders, but makes no mention of other aid. However, the same article indicates that the U.S. has been the greatest contributor to Haiti after 1973, and provided $712 million in direct aid as a result of the earthquake. As for Katrina, Cuba offered to send doctors and medicine, but the offer was rejected by the State Department. (See also this NBC article). So, Cuba's contributions to Haiti following the 2010 earthquake appear to be minimal, and even its proposed aid following Katrina would have done nothing to assist in the rescue of people trapped on rooftops by the floodwaters.
Primarily, though, the BLM statement is about the example provided by Castro in pursuing his revolution. For instance, the statement indicates that "there are lessons that we must revisit and heed as we pick up the mantle in changing our world, as we aspire to build a world rooted in a vision of freedom and the peace that only comes with justice. It is the lessons that we take from Fidel." Among these:
Revolution is rooted in the recognition that there are certain fundamentals to which every being has a right, just by virtue of one’s birth: healthy food, clean water, decent housing, safe communities, quality healthcare, mental health services, free and quality education, community spaces, art, democratic engagement, regular vacations, sports, and places for spiritual expression are not questions of resources, but questions of political will and they are requirements of any humane society.Of course, we must always remember that what others consider "peace" or "justice" may be very different from our conceptions of those same words. We are well aware that under Islam, "peace" is the state where Islam is dominant and controlling. All else is war. So, too, we must be careful of what BLM seeks. This include restitution for slavery and past discrimination (even though that is the purpose of affirmative action in its various forms). and seeks to open up voting to anyone and everyone, including illegal aliens. It seeks to obtain political power over predominately black areas, including direct control over all law enforcement. It wants to prohibit the use of criminal background checks for employment. It wants the tax code to be revised to redistribute money to blacks; and wants a guaranteed minimum income for all black people. It wants free education, through college, for blacks and minorities (including illegal aliens), as well as a blanket forgiveness of past student loans; a cut in military expenditures (with the money shifted to programs benefiting blacks); and it wants the U.S. to stop the use of fossil fuels. It also wants the "decriminalization" of black youth, including "an end to zero-tolerance school policies and arrests of students, the removal of police from schools, and the reallocation of funds from police and punitive school discipline practices to restorative services." They also demand the end of prisons and jails. BLM also states it is "committed to disrupting the Western-prescribed nuclear family structure."
Or, as Rod Deher noted about the militant left, "it is often racist against whites, and has no intention of allowing any opinions other than its own to be voiced in the public square. And whether in the streets or in a university lecture hall, it will use violence to impose its will." The BLM seeks a revolution, and it believes that Castro showed the path forward. And the end goal is the massive appropriation of wealth from white European Americans. In the end, its all about the money.