Sunday, April 13, 2003

Two observations:

First: columnists & op-ed writers in the Caribbean newspapers have had a lot to say about Iraq these last weeks, unsurprisingly; & now that the war seems all but won they've started to write about the possible consequences. I don't read the papers as closely as I once did, so no doubt I've overlooked some relevant material, but I find it remarkable that of all the columnists I've read not one has managed to say unambiguously that Saddam's removal is a cause for relief. Whatever else this war has been or has done, is it not clear to any decent person that Saddam Hussein's long, despotic reign was a history of horrors, & that it is a good thing he is finally, belatedly, gone? (Not clear? Read this or this.)

Second: I find it even more remarkable that in the last fortnight I haven't read a single protest in the regional press against the recent arrest & imprisonment of non-violent dissidents in Cuba, including human rights activists, journalists, & owners of private libraries, men & women who have done nothing but exercise their right to freedom of expression. Instead, Atillah Springer writes in today's Guardian (no permalink) that meeting Fidel Castro is one of the "top ten things" she'd like to do. (I don't imagine she'd take the opportunity to ask him why he's locking up independent journalists for doing nothing more than expressing their opinions publicly--something Springer herself is paid to do every week.) Worse, John Maxwell, writing in today's Observer (his column, by the way, is called "Common Sense"), actually attempts to justify Castro's crackdown on the dissidents, claiming that "the Cubans have been through four decades of subversion, sabotage, sanctions and terrorism designed to change their regime. They know the tricks of the trade better than anyone else." This is sheer moral depravity.

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