Will Truman

Will Truman is the Editor-in-Chief of Ordinary Times. He is also on Twitter.

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45 Responses

  1. Avatar Pinky says:

    I may just be digging for a pony here, but I kind of liked Trump’s statement. I realize that greater moral clarity than Jimmy Carter isn’t a high bar, but I’m glad he cleared it. Also, just seeing Carter’s comment reminds me that the country has made irresponsible choices before, and they don’t necessarily represent a change in national character.Report

  2. Avatar J_A says:

    I refuse to ignore or to forgive neither Castro’s crimes nor his -probably even worse- economic mismanagement.

    That doesn’t mean that there were no valid reasons for why he rose to power, for some of the policies he took, or for the approval for some (many) of his actions that you can see everywhere.

    History is complicated. The worst thing we can do is see it in terms of white hats and black hats, where black hats are Morgoth worshipping evil doers that rejoice in their viciousness, and white hats are noble heroes fueled by their courage, wisdom and compassion.

    Even the orcs have a viewpoint. Regretfully, Tolkien didn’t think it interesting to write about it.Report

    • Avatar Pinky in reply to J_A says:

      No, the worst thing we can do with regard to history is to get it wrong. Castro was a man who rose to power in difficult conditions and became a villain by his own decisions. He was a black hat. It’s wrong to cast people into good and bad guys when they’re not, but it’s also wrong to fail to recognize good and bad.Report

      • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Pinky says:

        Making moral judgments isn’t wrong, just unhelpful in making our own decisions.

        Looking at Syria, Iran, Russia, China and our relationships with them; How would making moral judgments about their leaders help or guide our decisionmaking?

        We are currently kinda-sorta- Frenemies with all these nations, where we alternately cooperate and compete with them, work in the same direction, and against them.

        In between the moral masturbation of Wilsonian nation building and cynical realpolitik there exists a pretty big terrain of ambiguity and nuance.Report

      • Avatar J_A in reply to Pinky says:


        And the orcs decided to be evil. You should read The Last Ringbearer. Get a different perspective on white and black hats.

        Nobody is excusing his crimes. Nobody is excusing Bush/Cheney’s crimes either. They also decided to became villains.Report

  3. Avatar Saul Degraw says:

    Pinky’s comment above is an interesting contrast between the memes I am seeing on facebook where all my liberal friends call Obama’s statement diplomatic and graceful but state Trump failed his first major diplomatic test.

    This is going to be a long and bitter four years.Report

    • I included the comment about Pinochet in part because I thought it got it right. I thought Obama’s was a bit too neutral, and a little self-centered, though I thought it was okay in the overall. I’m certainly glad he didn’t go the Carter route. Trump’s was self-aggrandizing and not my preferred route, but could have been way worse and the “He wasn’t sufficiently nice and deferential to the guy who wanted to annihilate us” line of criticism is not going to draw too much blood (nor, am I convinced, should it).Report

      • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to Will Truman says:

        On LGM, Lee made this analogy:

        Castro is to Liberals as Lee Kwan Yew is to conservatives. Others commented that maybe Pinochet was the better example but some agreed with Lee.

        As I mentioned on Jaybird’s thread, there was a time not too long ago when you could criticize the Soviet Union but express sympathy for the Russian Revolution because of how horrible the tzars were.

        Cuba before Castro was a corrupt Banana Republic run by United Fruit and various gangsters. Most of the Cubans that fled after the revolution took part to enrich themselves while their fellow country people performed back-breaking labor for little or no pay. So when the left is a little easier on Castro, I think it is because we perceive the right-wing and libertarian forces for only caring about Capitalism and corporate freedom over basic human rights and dignity. It seems clear to me that Capitalism and liberal democracy do not necessarily go hand in hand and many business people would rather not deal with the pesky nature of liberal democracy.

        Lee Kwan Yew or Pinochet was the same for the right in presenting “Yeah he was bad and not-democratic but look at what he did to the economy and what came before him…..”Report

        • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Saul Degraw says:

          @saul-degraw I keep reminding you that United Fruit had some but very limited economic involvement in pre-Revolutionary Cuba, mainly some sugar plantations on the eastern part of Cuba. Their main area of activity was in Central America and not the Caribbean islands where they had banana plantations and did get too involved in local politics for their benefit.Report

        • Avatar Brandon Berg in reply to Saul Degraw says:

          Castro is to Liberals as Lee Kwan Yew is to conservatives.

          Well, that was a pretty nice thing for him to have said about conservatives.Report

        • Avatar North in reply to Saul Degraw says:

          Castro is to Liberals as Lee Kwan Yew is to conservatives. Others commented that maybe Pinochet was the better example but some agreed with Lee.

          I think that paints Liberals in a terrible light. I also don’t think it’s true. Replace it with Pinochet, though and I think it’s both more fair and more accurate.Report

          • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to North says:

            Pinochet is a much better analogy.Report

          • Avatar Brandon Berg in reply to North says:

            UAnd yet conservatives still come out of that one looking better. Pinochet wasn’t a great guy, but Castro’s regime was more repressive, and ran the economy into the ground to boot.

            Also, I’ve never really seen a full-throated defense of Pinochet. It’s always more along the lines of “He wasn’t as bad as Allende would have been.” But I see some lefties (not you guys) basically lining up to fellate Castro’s corpse, just like they did with Chavez. I think the primary reason for this is that those of us on the free market side have a lot of legitimate success stories, whereas full-on socialists (again, not you guys) are desperately scrounging around for someone they can pretend didn’t screw things up too badly. They need Cuba to have been a success, badly.Report

        • Avatar Damon in reply to Saul Degraw says:

          Yeah, it’s those damn LIBERTARIANS that have SO much influence on american foreign policy and influence in washington.

          *rolls eyes*Report

      • Obama still has to be a grownup. Trump won’t ever have that handicap.Report

    • Avatar Pinky in reply to Saul Degraw says:

      You wrote “long and bitter”, and it got me thinking. Do you think that your liberal friends responded more negatively to Trump’s statement because it came from Trump? I’m interested in the answer. Trump’s statement reflects a different point of view (ideology may be too big a word to describe it) than Obama’s, so some negative reaction to the statement is to be expected. Do you think their reaction goes beyond disagreement into bitterness?Report

      • Avatar dragonfrog in reply to Pinky says:

        Trump’s statement reflects a different point of view (ideology may be too big a word to describe it)

        I think we’re clear to use big words, Trump probably isn’t reading this discussion anyway.Report

  4. Avatar LeeEsq says:

    Castro is just going to be one of those polarizing figures that nobody is going to be able to agree upon. He has become a symbol rather than actual human being. People just project their cosmology and Castro and cast him as a saint or devil based on what they believe. Very few can judge with a clear eye and reflective mind.Report

    • Avatar Burt Likko in reply to LeeEsq says:

      Perhaps not, but the final chapter of George Orwell’s Animal Farm comes pretty close in my mind.Report

      • Avatar Road Scholar in reply to Burt Likko says:

        Or the last few lines of Sheep by –who else?– Pink Floyd:

        Bleating and babbling we fell on his neck with a scream
        Wave upon wave of demented avengers
        March cheerfully out of obscurity into the dream.

        Have you heard the news?
        The dogs are dead!
        You better stay home
        And do as you’re told
        Get out of the road if you want to grow old.


  5. Luis Tiant:

    After so many years and everything that has happened … I did not see my dad for 18 years, and I did not return to my homeland for 46 years, it’s just not that easy. I think it’s not time to celebrate, because the regime is still there. We don’t know what is going to happen and one does not know how Raúl [Castro] and all those who are still in power will react. Sometimes it’s better to remain silent and figure things out. Sometimes celebrations can be a little premature. Hopefully everything will be fixed soon, because it has been too much pain for too long; no one can withstand that.

  6. Avatar Jaybird says:

    One dog that isn’t barking is the whole “Cuban Twitter” thing.

    People are not tweeting from Cuba with their opinions on what happened.
    Because they don’t have twitter.
    Because they don’t have access to the internet.
    Because the government forbade it and had the power to keep people off of it.Report