The recent death of Fidel Castro has launched a national debate over how the former Cuban dictator ought to be memorialized.
So far, the consensus among progressive world leaders, liberal celebrities, and the mainstream media is much like you would expect: Castro was complicated and controversial, yet generally a good-hearted man who cared deeply about the Cuban people. And while this view has been met with conservative backlash and reminders of Castro’s bloody rule, the fact that this is even a subject for debate reveals the disturbing consequences of America’s intellectual laziness and growing reliance on instant information.
First, there was Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s now-famous statement in which he eulogized the murderous authoritarian ruler as “a larger than life leader” and a “legendary revolutionary and orator” who “made significant improvements to the education and healthcare” of Cuba. Then there was the statement released by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who referred to Castro as “a strong voice for social justice.” Celebrities like rocker Tom Morello, rapper Nas, and special snowflake quarterback Colin Kaepernick also jumped on the Castro-loving bandwagon.
Plenty of conservative politicians, including Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, Mike Huckabee, Newt Gingrich, and the president-elect himself, attacked the spotless Castro narrative. Celebrities like Cher, Gloria Estefan, Alfred Molina, and Barbara Walters also voiced their disapproval of the late Cuban despot.
These dissenting views, however, were effectively shouted down by the progressive mainstream media machine. As Media Research Center’s Brent Baker reported, networks like CNN, ABC, and MSNBC reduced Fidel Castro to a romantic revolutionary and “folk hero” who improved education, literacy, and health care for his fellow countrymen. News outlets that many Americans depend on for coverage of world events chose to whitewash the legacy of a real-life monster.
It is troubling that any person who has benefitted from the freedoms and opportunities associated with Western democracy and limited government would defend a man who spent his life opposing these things. But the mixed response to Castro’s death points to a problem far greater than liberal media bias — that is, the modern progressivism that has enabled Americans to accept this impoverished view of history as truth.
The motto here at Conservative Review is “Trust, but verify” — the Russian proverb often employed by President Ronald Reagan when discussing U.S.-Soviet relations. It is a principle no longer valued in modern progressive America, where a hunger for truth has been largely rendered obsolete. The modern obsession with “efficiency” and “productivity” has created a people who would rather be spoon-fed “facts,” polls, and “expert findings” by so-called journalists —who season their reports with liberal bias — than undergo the arduous process of truth-seeking.
Americans have lost their appetite for hard-earned truth, because they have been taught that information and knowledge are one in the same. They settle for summaries, soundbites, and listicles that do the thinking for them. And while thoughtless assent is perhaps less time-consuming than critical thinking, can we really call it “progress”?
The price of ‘progress’
Progressivism tells dissenters that they are on the “wrong side of history.”
The late Fidel Castro himself once said, “A revolution is a struggle to the death between the future and the past.”
Castro, like many progressives, professed an abstract love of “humanity” and “justice,” while displaying bloody indifference to the human beings affected by his oppressive policies. He was against free thought and displayed a ready willingness to quash any individual who stood in his way. That’s the truth, but it’s not something you’re likely to hear from the mainstream media, Wikipedia, Twitter, or theSkimm.
In order to identify and combat the Castros of our day, Americans must learn to distinguish truth from lies, history from historical fiction. We can begin this process by reducing our dependence on instant information.
Many of us haven't the patience to go to the library and spend a few hours leafing through good primary sources. We haven't the interest in speaking to older relatives or neighbors who lived through the Cold War and could perhaps share their thoughts on Castro. These activities are not "productive" or "efficient" by our estimations, so we settle for mere “information” at the expense of truth.
This country affords its citizens the freedom to pursue truth. As Americans, we don’t have to rely on individuals and institutions that would rather feed us information than fuel our appetite for true knowledge. But if we are too lazy or indifferent to avail ourselves of this freedom, we will be slaves to our own ignorance and cogs in the progressive machine.
If we care about the future of our country, we need to start caring about the past. We need to examine information that is presented to us with a critical eye. We need to trust, but verify.
- Celebrating the life of Fidel Castro is the mark of a fool
- Want facts with that? Americans want MSM to ditch the spin
- Castro was a poor man's version of Stalin and Mao
Carly Hoilman is a Correspondent for Conservative Review. You can follow her on Twitter @CarlyHoilman.