It was good to see President Obama in Cuba this week trying to heal the 30 year old split between our two countries.
However, I can’t help but smile when politicians and pundits in American get all puffed up and self-righteous, and deign to lecture other countries like Cuba on human rights as if we were squeaky clean on this issue.
We are not – not by a long chalk! Neither past or present.
Never mind that we have never apologized, let alone atoned for having supported, institutionalized, and even fought a war to maintain a brutal system of slavery for over 200 years.
Put aside also, the fact that America followed that sorry story up with yet another period during which Jim Crow rules enforced and institutionalized racial segregation, the cruel and inhuman subjugation of blacks for decades, and that recent events show is still part of life for blacks today.
Let’s ignore the fact that, as Bernie Sanders – God bless him – has been repeatedly reminding us these last few months, that America incarcerates more people than all the other countries in the world combined, most of them poor blacks.
Is that not without human rights implications?
Ah, but they are not political prisoners, you might say. Really? Come on! Think about it.
Politicians who like to portray themselves as being guardians of our collective morality, while ignoring their own in many cases, have consistently passed laws that target the poor, the under-represented, and the dispossessed.
No human rights issues there, right?
They impose long, minimum sentences for things like minor drug offenses, for which one in five blacks serve time at some time in their lives, while making sure that rich people get away scot-free, having committed much the same drug-use ‘crime.’ (Crack versus cocaine.)
Is that non-political, or what?
(Note: In Portugal they have decriminalized all drugs totally. Drug use and drug related crimes have gone way down. Try selling that idea to Republican politicians!)
We have come to accept that rich and influential people who are able to buy off the politicians know they can commit, with 100% impunity, all sorts of financial and business related crimes, swindles, and shenanigans that ruin the lives of millions of people without ever being held accountable. Is that non-political?
Here’s another reason why we can’t play the ‘non-political’ card.
Unlike most European countries, many States in the U.S., especially the 12 with the most stringent restrictions, deny voting rights forever to felons who have served their prison sentences.
How jolly convenient!
Think how tempting it might be if you are a Republican politician concerned about your re-election to pass laws and do everything you can to maintain a corrupt legal system that will ensure that over 6 million people in America, likely to vote Democratic, are permanently prevented from voting. Hmm!
Don’t mention any of this to Raul Castro, though. He might be tempted throw some of our **s__t** back in our face. Then we might have to look at our own sorry record of human rights, then look in the mirror and have to ‘eat crow.’
You know the principle; IF YOU SPOT IT, YOU GOT IT! Castro, and others like him who abuse human rights, show us how hypocritical we are on this issue, and that we have a lot to forgive ourselves for. When will we ever do it?