Thursday, 26 April 2018 12:14

Kengor Writes

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Kengor Writes . . .

Paul Kengor

Paul Kengor is a professor of political science and the executive director of the Center for Vision & Values at Grove City College. Paul Kengor is the author of God and Ronald Reagan: A Spiritual Life (2004), The Crusader: Ronald Reagan and the Fall of Communism (2007), The Judge: William P. Clark, Ronald Reagan’s Top Hand (Ignatius Press, 2007) and The Communist — Frank Marshall Davis: The Untold Story of Barack Obama’s Mentor (Threshold Editions / Mercury Ink 2012).

Imagine if Stormy Daniels Were Bill Clinton’s Friend Gennifer Flowers.

CBS’s “60 Minutes” rounded out Palm Sunday yesterday with an exclusive interview with porn-star Stormy Daniels leveling salacious charges against President Trump. The interview was aired almost 20 years to the day of another surreal interview involving a president and sensational sexual allegations.

On March 24, 1998, the New York Times provided a platform for one Bernard Lewinsky, father of a lady likewise infamous for lewd antics. In an article titled, “He Accuses Special Prosecutor of ‘Trying to Torture’ His Daughter: Lewinsky’s Father Rips Into Starr,” Lewinsky exploded not at the man who employed his little girl — Monica — as a sexual play-thing in the nation’s most revered office, but instead unleashed his anger at, well, Ken Starr.

“I think this is just the drip torture technique that Ken Starr is using on her,” complained the Los Angeles cancer specialist, condemning not Bill Clinton’s grotesque techniques on his daughter. “He is just trying to torture her in every possible way.” Dr. Lewinsky said his daughter was being used as a political “pawn” by the slimy Starr. She was now “very depressed” and a “virtual prisoner in her apartment,” unable to talk or even see family and friends and her own brother.

It wasn’t his first slap at the independent counsel. In a piece the Times ran a few weeks earlier, “Intern’s Father Assails Starr Over Inquiry,” Lewinsky had barked at Starr: “Lay off!” These were words that surely would have been better spent hurled at Bill Clinton. But that wasn’t the mindset of Monica’s father; his villain was the independent counsel. Dr. Lewinsky surmised that what Ken Starr (not Bill Clinton) had “brought upon” his daughter was “unconscionable.” Displaying his liberal bona fides, Dr. Lewinsky said the nefarious Starr so repulsed him that the counselor made him think of the worst of humans: Joe McCarthy. The attorney was running a “McCarthy-era” investigation. In fact, said Dr. Lewinsky, this new era was actually worse than that: it was reminiscent not merely of the McCarthy era but “of the Inquisition” and even “the Hitler era.”

Yes, the Hitlerian Ken Starr was “completely out of control.” (Again, no charges of Bill Clinton being out of control.)

That was 20 years ago. And it’s worth noting today because Dr. Lewinsky’s comments weren’t solely representative of an enraged father who had gone bananas thanks to Bill Clinton and was lashing out. No, Lewinsky was a proud liberal, and his misdirected indignation was reflective of liberals’ misdirected indignation during the Clinton-Lewinsky affair. The liberal press wasn’t simply in denial mode; it, too, was in attack mode — attacking not Boy Clinton, but Bad Boy Starr.

Such it had been for two nutty terms of Bill Clinton. Above all, the left told us this sordid stuff didn’t matter, and the liberal mainstream press did everything to avoid the elephants in the Clinton bedroom — actually, in the Clinton Oval Office.

Monica’s dad was sadly symptomatic of Bill’s supporters throughout the media.

It wasn’t until deep into the second Clinton term that names like Monica Lewinsky and Juanita Broaddrick — the latter a two-decade old case of alleged rape by Bill Clinton — made their way into the media. The press had to be dragged kicking and screaming, and only then after exposés by Matt Drudge. As for Broaddrick and her rape claims, the story finally hit the mainstream media when NBC’s Lisa Myers bravely broke ranks and interviewed Broaddrick. Then, the mainstream press slowly followed, including a detailed report on the front page of the February 20, 1999 edition of the Washington Post. It was, alas, the seventh year of Bill’s presidency.

Broaddrick herself would confront Hillary Rodham Clinton with a letter to the sitting first lady demanding an explanation, a letter excerpted in the press. That story didn’t enter the mainstream media until October 2000, the final full year of the Clinton presidency.

The American Spectator as early as late 1993 had been breaking extraordinary stories based on stunning interviews with (among others) the Arkansas state troopers unluckily assigned to Gov. Bill Clinton. The troopers’ accounts were jaw-droppers, and credible — and yet the press assiduously ignored them. When Paula Jones or Gennifer Flowers attempted a press conference, they were openly mocked by the press; literally laughed at on the spot. (To its credit, “60 Minutes” did confront both Clintons on allegations of Bill’s marital infidelity during the 1992 campaign, an interview in which Bill and surely Hillary lied through their grinning lips.)

Recall, too, how all the president’s men joined the pack. Throughout 1998, the lieutenants in the Clinton camp were on a rampage against the special prosecutor’s office, which they openly portrayed as operated by fundamentalist-hayseeds, puritanical tyrants, sexual McCarthyites looking for a woman under every Clinton bed. Ken Starr was a modern Torquemada.

Especially adept at the art of vicious sliming was Clinton hatchet-man James Carville, who lampooned Starr for — heaven forbid — praying and singing hymns during walks along a creek near his home. “He goes down by the Potomac and listens to hymns, as the cleansing water of the Potomac goes by,” screeched a howling Carville, “and we’re going to wash all the Sodomites and fornicators out of town!” Sidney Blumenthal, White House aide and Clinton apologist extraordinaire, snarled that Starr fancied himself a “zealot on a mission derived from a higher authority,” and ripped Starr’s chief deputy in Little Rock, W. Hickman Ewing, who was obviously a “religious fanatic.”

Words like “bimbo” and “trailer-park trash” were tossed around brutally by Clintonistas to besmirch women who courageously stood up against the most powerful man in the world. Bill’s victims might have started the #MeToo movement, if only a single pro-choice feminist in Washington had been willing to stand at their side.

And now, 20 years later, it’s March 2018, barely a full year into the Trump presidency, and liberals are practically kicking down the door of the Playboy Mansion looking under couches for dirt on the Donald. It seems only a matter of time before CNN sets up a full-time bureau in a Washington strip club. Poor Anderson Cooper, a genuinely decent guy, seems to have been dispatched to the Porn Beat, where his duties include shoving microphones in the faces of X-rated film stars and former centerfolds. Turning on CNN in front of the kids is a risk nowadays.

Now, every new sexual allegation against Donald Trump is an instant headline. No hesitation — straight to the front pages, baby.

And as for me, for the record, I’m as troubled by the allegations in 2018 as in 1998. I’m not shrugging this off. Conservatives must stand on principle and care about and condemn such outrageously and scandalously bad behavior, especially to retain any credibility. As readers here well know, I voiced character concerns about Donald Trump during his campaign in 2016 — as I had about Bill Clinton in 1992. But my focus here is liberals, and this reality: Their hypocrisy is coming back to bite them.

When liberals protest that Trump supporters aren’t taking these charges seriously, or cry foul when Trump defenders point instead to Bill Clinton in the 1990s, well, they shouldn’t be surprised. Liberals, there’s a moral-political consequence to how you covered your ears and eyes in the 1990s. And now you’ll see it among a sizable segment of voters who will reject your remonstrations of moral outrage against Donald Trump. Frustrated? So were we.

Obama’s CIA Director Would Sooner Vacation in North Korea Than at Mar-a-Lago.

Obama CIA director John Brennan, recently uncorked an epic Twitter rant. Enraged by President Trump’s words aimed at FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe, Brennan steamed at the president:

“When the full extent of your venality, moral turpitude, and political corruption becomes known, you will take your rightful place as a disgraced demagogue in the dustbin of history. You may scapegoat Andy McCabe, but you will not destroy America . . . America will triumph over you.”

More than one faithful reader emailed me about the irony of such words coming from a man who wanted Gus Hall to be president of the United States.


For those too young to remember, Gus Hall was the longtime hack and head of Communist Party USA, beginning in 1959 until his death in 2000. Not even Joe Stalin as a Party General Secretary came close to matching Gus Hall’s interminable tenure. Hall was unwaveringly dedicated to a global Communist revolution and a truly Evil Empire that was ultimately and blessedly consigned to “the dustbin of history.” Brennan’s loaded words echoed a phrase that Bolshevism made infamous: From the delightful Leon Trotsky to the charming Yuri Andropov, the exhortation evidently remains etched in Brennan’s comradely memory. “Go the place where you belong from now on,” Trotsky thundered at the Mensheviks in 1917, “the dustbin of history!”

Our former CIA director channeled Trotsky in the service of blasting Trump.

Of course, that’s precisely why the good reader emailed me. The reader graciously remembered my piece for The American Spectator in September 2016 in which I noted that the same Mr. John Brennan had supported Mr. Gus Hall for POTUS back in the Brezhnev era. Brennan literally cast a vote for the Kremlin’s man in Washington. Needless to say, the Kremlin in those days was a rather bad place that housed some nasty guys. Leonid Brezhnev’s KGB chief was Yuri Andropov. About the time that Brennan was registering a ballot for Moscow’s man in America to become America’s next president, Brezhnev and Andropov were giving the green light to one of the most shocking crimes of the deadly 20th century: the assassination of Pope John Paul II. Andropov gave the go-ahead to the Soviet GRU to hire Muslim-Turk Mehmet Ali Agca to murder the head of the world’s largest Christian church and inheritor of the Chair of St. Peter.

That ought to have raised a red flag to John Brennan, who, among other things, had been raised an Irish Catholic. His lurch to the far left occurred during his college years at the Jesuit-run Fordham University in New York. (Today, it’s unclear where Brennan stands faith-wise, with not a single mention at his official CIA page and other biographical sources and amid unproven claims that he converted to Islam. The Arabic-speaking ex-CIA director, who studied abroad in Cairo, has made very positive statements about Islam and the “privilege” of making pilgrimage to Mecca and paying homage to “the majesty of the Hajj.”)

In fact, if one studies Brennan’s admission that he voted for Gus Hall, it looks like he also suggested that he might have been a member of the Communist Party in 1980. Yes, a formal member.

Once upon a time in pre-Obama America, the possibility of CPUSA membership would have been a disqualifying factor to run the CIA. But not to the president that Americans elected in 2008 and reelected in 2012. To the contrary, Obama would have been highly sympathetic. It was likewise in 1980, at Occidental College, according to classmate John Drew, that the young Obama was an ideological Marxist, albeit not a formal CPUSA member. Only the most hardcore joined The Party — including Obama mentor, Frank Marshall Davis, whose underground code name for The Party was “The Church.”

But alas, that’s just the start of the irony in John Brennan’s Tweet about the corruption of Donald Trump. Observe that Brennan also blasted Trump for demagoguery, venality, and moral turpitude. Well, that took some gall for a Gus guy. Gus Hall was all those things, and worse.

I couldn’t begin to here lay out the full spectrum and spectacle (and disgrace, to borrow another Brennan description) that was Gus Hall, but here’s one particularly relevant item of interest: ol’ Gus was so corrupt that even the Russkies couldn’t trust him.

An eyewitness to that reality was Morris Childs, a remarkable individual whose story was told by the late John Barron in his fascinating book Operation Solo: The FBI’s Man in the Kremlin. Childs was Gus’s number-two at CPUSA. And all along, Childs was secretly working for the FBI.

The courageous Childs marvelously hoodwinked Hall and his Moscow cronies. The Soviets loved Childs like a brother, bestowing on him their celebrated Soviet Order of the Red Banner — a hilarious accomplishment for an undercover FBI agent.

What Childs learned from the Soviets was significant. But as to the point of Gus Hall’s corruption, consider this: The Soviet Union was secretly bankrolling CPUSA, including annual subsidies to the Daily Worker. It was illegal for CPUSA and Gus Hall to receive this money. Our government knew this was happening, but it kept the information quiet to protect Childs so he could continue providing crucial inside intelligence.

Morris Childs and his brother Jack (also working for our side) were conduits for the funding. The Kremlin gave CPUSA tens of millions of dollars. The total rose to $2,775,000 by 1980. The FBI knew the precise amount because it counted every dime at a half-way house prior to when Morris deposited it in a safe for Gus Hall.

To repeat: Hall and CPUSA were doing all of this illegally. They were a directly-subsidized arm of America’s chief adversary, a barbaric regime.

But that’s not the end of it — of, that is, Gus Hall’s corruption. As for the safe in which Moscow’s money was placed for CPUSA, Gus always pocketed a portion for his personal stash. Childs knew this, the FBI knew it. He wasn’t trustworthy. Then again, why would anyone trust a Communist General Secretary? Come to think of it, why would anyone vote for a Communist General Secretary to be their president of the United States?

That brings us back to John Brennan.

One might lend more credibility to Brennan’s crowing about Donald Trump if he had better judgment about presidents of the United States. And this article doesn’t begin to detail Gus Hall’s venality, moral turpitude, and political corruption. Where to start and finish with those? Here are merely a few Gus gems:

On vacationing in North Korea: “The world should see what North Korea has done. In some ways it’s a miracle. If you want to take a nice vacation, take it in North Korea.”

On the Party’s position on the Hitler-Stalin of 1939, Stalin’s purge trials, and the 1956 invasion of Hungary: “I never believed that we should dwell too much on the past. I have been much more interested in the future.”

On socialism’s inevitability in America: “There’s no question that the United States will become a socialist country. It’s as inevitable as the sun rising tomorrow.”

On the Party remaining committed to revolution: “We want to overthrow the capitalist system. But the means that we have chosen are ones of mass education and propaganda. We have our newspaper and we appear on talk shows and we will take part in elections.”

Well, John Brennan took part in those elections. He cast a vote for the cause.

Let’s Not Forget Bernardine Dohrn, Bill Ayers, and the Four-Finger Salute

Most articles on the death of madman Charles Manson opened by mentioning his role in the diabolical Tate-LaBianca murders. The AP story started this way:

“Charles Manson, the hippie cult leader who became the hypnotic-eyed face of evil across America after orchestrating the gruesome murders of pregnant actress Sharon Tate and six others in Los Angeles during the summer of 1969, died Sunday after nearly a half-century in prison. . . .” The Manson Family, as his followers were called, slaughtered five of its victims on Aug. 9, 1969, at Tate’s home: the actress, who was 8½ months pregnant, coffee heiress Abigail Folger, celebrity hairdresser Jay Sebring, Polish movie director Voyteck Frykowski and Steven Parent, a friend of the estate’s caretaker. Tate’s husband, “Rosemary’s Baby” director Roman Polanski, was out of the country at the time. The next night, a wealthy grocer and his wife, Leno and Rosemary LaBianca, were stabbed to death in their home across town.

Charles Manson led this cult of killers. After a sensational trial that truly shocked America, Manson and four genuinely scary members of his “family” — Susan Atkins, Patricia Krenwinkel, Leslie Van Houten, and Charles “Tex” Watson — were sentenced to death. But because the California Supreme Court had struck down the death penalty, all were spared execution and instead given life sentences.

Manson had directed his “family” members to go out into the dark of night to do “something witchy.” That they did. The way they killed Sharon Tate was especially gruesome. Shortly after midnight, they stabbed Tate at least a dozen times, mutilating the beautiful actress, who was due to give birth in two weeks. Tate had reportedly begged for the life of her unborn child but was told by one of the Manson girls:

“Look bitch, I don’t care about you. I don’t care if you are having a baby. You are going to die and I don’t feel a thing about it.”

The Manson girls repeatedly rammed forks into Tate’s belly to kill her child. The dead baby boy was later removed from his mother’s still womb and buried with her in her arms.

Manson’s acolytes took Tate’s spilled blood and used it to paint the word “PIG” on the front door of her home.

As for the murder of the LaBiancas the next day, Manson himself tied up the couple and ordered his devotees to do the kill. They brandished their knives and ferociously hacked away. They would leave a fork sticking out of the dead belly of Leno LaBianca, a supermarket executive. The fork was used to carve the word “WAR” on his belly.

Everyone knows that Charles Manson inspired those murders. None of that is being forgotten in reports of his death. But what also shouldn’t be forgotten was how the murders inspired Bernardine Dohrn, the ’60s militant Marxist who spearheaded the Weather Underground.

That surreal, cruel moment came at the appropriately titled “War Council” held in Flint, Michigan on December 27, 1969, two days after Christmas. It was attended by some 400 student radicals from the SDS-Weathermen cabal, who promoted this political-ideological-sexual gathering as a collective “Wargasm.” For the lovely ’60s hippies, it would be (as usual) a night of radical politics, unrestrained sex, and violence.

Among the ringleaders was the late John Jacobs, who had coined a fitting slogan for the evening and for the entire movement: “We’re against everything that’s good and decent.” That became obvious when the indecent Bernardine Dohrn grabbed the microphone. “We’re about being crazy motherf—ers,” Dohrn shouted, “and scaring the sh-t out of honky America!”

It was like a radical revival meeting, with the Rev. Dohrn at the political pulpit. Inspired by the spirit — that is, some sort of spirit — Bernardine fired up her brothers and sisters with her hideous ruminations on the vicious Tate-LaBianca murders. The future professor of child education at Northwestern University School of Law — no less than founding director of the university’s Children and Family Justice Center — thrilled over the scene in the bloody Tate living room:

“Dig it! First they killed those pigs. Then they ate dinner in the same room with them. Then they even shoved a fork into the victim’s stomach! Wild!”

One would like to think that this gory moment appalled even the hardcore in that room, but that wouldn’t be accurate. The faithful, from Bernadine’s sweetheart, Bill Ayers, to everyone else in the hall, knew Bernardine was serious — and they dug it. As reported by Mark Rudd, one of the core leaders of SDS and the Weathermen, the assembled “instantly adopted as Weather’s salute four fingers held up in the air, invoking the fork left in Sharon Tate’s belly.”

Imagine. Just imagine. A room full of highly educated young people from some of America’s most hailed colleges. United in a grotesque four-finger salute of diabolical death.

Bill Ayers has been asked to comment on the episode. The best face that Ayers has tried to put on the event is to claim that his sweetheart was being “ironic” or had employed “rhetorical overkill” (Freudian slip?) or was speaking “partly as a joke.”

Among the former ’60s radicals who later investigated the incident is David Horowitz, today a leading conservative. Horowitz set out to document the incident, interviewing his old comrades: “In 1980, I taped interviews with thirty members of the Weather Underground who were present at the Flint War Council, including most of its leadership,” he wrote. “Not one of them thought Dohrn was anything but deadly serious.”

I’ve likewise talked to witnesses. A few years ago I spoke to a Weather Underground cadre who was there. This witness was a good guy — a courageous Vietnam vet who offered his services to the FBI and had infiltrated the group at great personal risk. His name was Larry Grathwohl, who I wrote a tribute to at The American Spectator in July 2013. There, I recounted a conversation I had with Grathwohl the previous summer.

Grathwohl had been at the War Council. When I asked if Dohrn and the others were indeed serious, and whether the rest of the radicals had joined the four-finger salute, he confirmed vigorously: “Absolutely! No question.” He repeated emphatically: “Remember, I was there. I saw it.”

In fact, Grathwohl added a tidbit that I hadn’t read in accounts of that evening. He said that throughout the remainder of the night, as the “flower children” danced, they gleefully bopped and grooved with their fingers in the form of the four-finger salute, thrusting their arms up and down and back and forth, laughing joyfully. Larry demonstrated for me. I felt sick to my stomach.

“How awful,” I said. “Oh, yes,” he replied. “It sure was.”

Mark Rudd, the SDS leader who shut down Columbia University a year earlier, in the spring of 1968, translated this message for the wider world:

“The message was that we sh-t on all your conventional values, you murderers of black revolutionaries and Vietnamese babies. There were no limits to our politics of transgression.”

No, there were not. And this is not quite the flowery image of the innocent ’60s idealists dancing with daisies that liberals would like us to believe about this degenerate generation of ideological goons and nerds and thugs.

A line had been crossed that night in Flint — the first steps into a dark world. From the high altar of Rev. Dohrn’s four-finger salute flowed domestic terror cells, gunpowder, bomb-making units. A “new decade now dawned,” recalled Rudd, as “the New Red Army marched out from Flint, exhilarated and terrified.” Its members would spend the next decade literally plotting the violent overthrow of the United States of America, which (quoting their hero, Che Guevara) they declared “the Great Enemy of Mankind.”

They planned attacks, planted bombs, and engaged in murder, all along fleeing the federal authorities as fugitives on the FBI’s “Most Wanted” list. Ayers would change his name from town to town, chillingly visiting cemeteries where he borrowed the names of deceased babies from tombstones as his macabre aliases.

Neither Ayers or Dohrn would get prison time. Quite the contrary, both spent the 1980s earning education degrees from universities like Columbia, and in the 1990s would become professors at, respectively, University of Illinois-Chicago and Northwestern.

Dohrn and Ayers, of course, were back in the news again in 2008, when their friendship with an aspiring Illinois politician named Barack Obama was raised. A chilling symbolic moment in Obama’s rise was the political blessing he received in the living room of Bill and Bernardine in their Hyde Park home in 1995. (Even the New York Times reported on this on the newspaper’s front page in October 2008, albeit downplaying the incident. See: Scott Shane, “Obama and ’60s Bomber: A Look Into Crossed Paths,” New York Times, October 4, 2008.)

Obama during the 2008 campaign would do his best to distance himself from Ayers, just as he did another leftist Chicagoan, his pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright.

In fact, Obama and Bill Ayers actually did a number of things together in Chicago. They jointly served as board members at the Woods Fund in Chicago; they worked on “school reform” through the Chicago Annenberg Challenge; they served on a juvenile-justice panel (organized by Michelle Obama); they appeared together as speakers or panel participants at Chicago events; they had many mutual associations, including with disturbing figures like Rashid Khalidi; they acknowledged one another in books and reviews and even endorsements of their books; they had a relationship as neighbors (three blocks apart); plus numerous other reported associations. (I detail these and many additional connections, with copious endnotes, in my book 2010 book, Dupes.) In 2001, the same period when Ayers openly lamented that he had not done enough damage to the Pentagon, Ayers donated $200 to Obama’s reelection campaign for the Illinois Senate, which Obama happily accepted and was never called upon to repudiate. The relationship was professional and personal. Some have speculated that Barack met his wife Michelle at the Sidley & Austin law firm where Bernardine Dohrn worked.

But, hey, who’s counting — eh?

By 2008, Bill and Bernardine were enthusiastic backers of the group “Progressives for Obama,” spearheaded by SDS founder and leading ’60s radical Tom Hayden.

Unlike Charles Manson, who spent the rest of his life in prison, neither Bill or Bernardine were sentenced to jail time for their alleged crimes, some of which (albeit not as sadistic as Manson’s) could have killed many more people. As Ayers later infamously celebrated, “Guilty as hell, free as a bird!”

Of course, what Charles Manson did was truly of hell. Manson was guilty as hell, and he didn’t get away with it — neither in this world and surely not in the next.

But as we look back at the evil that Charles Manson committed in 1969, we shouldn’t forget how Bernardine and buddies saluted that evil.

Remembering Fidel Castro’s Death


Editor’s note: A shorter version of this article first appeared in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

Last November marked the anniversary of the death of Fidel Castro, our hemisphere’s worst dictator for a half century. When we remember Castro’s death, we should remember him for just that: death.

Expressing the depths of Fidel’s destruction is impossible in a short article. But among the corpses under his despotism were the thousands who perished while trying to escape his island-prison by swimming nearly 100 miles to American shores.

A testimony to that desperation was recently provided to my students at Grove City College by a Cuban citizen, who I must leave nameless. In describing her fellow citizens’ surreal lives under totalitarian Communism, she noted that only recently have Cubans been allowed to visit their beautiful beaches, and even then only under strict surveillance. That’s a stunning thought for a country literally surrounded by beaches. And yet, Cubans are banned from their beaches because their government fears they’ll dash into the deep water and start paddling profusely for freedom — swimming all the way for Florida.

Imagine that. Try to conceive the utter despair. Try to wrap your mind around the cruelty of a government not even letting its suffering citizens escape — a regime so repressive that it will not dare avert its gaze for a moment lest its people attempt the physically unimaginable in the agonizing hopes of dashing from this Marxist police state.

We already know that Cuba is a bizarre island without boats. Look at satellite images of Cuba. No boats! There’s also no fishing industry, and people don’t have the luxury of eating fish. (They largely eat chicken, pork, rice, beans.) Why no boats? Why no fishermen? Because fishermen bolt the first chance they get — just like swimmers.

For the record, how many people have attempted the swim since Castro took over in 1959? It’s difficult to say. In 1999, the Harvard University Press classic, The Black Book of Communism, estimated that some 100,000 Cubans had risked the treacherous journey. Of those, perhaps as many as 30,000 to 40,000 died from drowning. As those in the sea bob for breath, the government on occasion has employed the resources of the state to sink them, dropping large bags of sand at them from helicopters hovering above.

Yes, actually dropping sandbags.

As we consider the tens of thousands who’ve drowned, compare it to another glaring number: zero. That’s the total number of Americans who have attempted the swim to Cuba, including all those merry liberals raving about the wondrous “free” education and healthcare awaiting humanity in the Castro collectivist utopia.

Bill Bennett, Ronald Reagan’s secretary of education, speaks of “the gates test.” To wit: when a nation opens its gates, in which direction does humanity flow? Well, when the United States leaves its borders unchecked, the refugees stream in. In the Communist world, the apparatchiks had to build a wall in Berlin to keep the captives contained. In Cuba, they can’t even visit their beaches. I imagine the Communists in Cuba would earnestly have followed the example of their old comrades in East Germany and built a wall around the beaches — if they could afford it.

Aside from those who drowned, how many others died under Fidel Castro?

Those numbers likewise run into the thousands. There were the more traditional Marxist methods: bullet to the head, deprivation, succumbing to inhumane prison conditions. The numbers vary, but the range of dead from those means is typically between 10,000 and 20,000, whether victims of long-term imprisonment or outright execution by bullets.

Fidel’s onetime executioner-in-chief, Che Guevara, today an icon to profoundly ignorant college students who sport the cruel psychopath on their t-shirts, is estimated to have overseen as many as 2,000 executions (some of which he personally performed) during the brief period he ran Fidel’s execution pit at the La Cabana concentration camp. Beyond Che’s “bloodthirsty” (he charmingly used that word to describe himself in a letter to his wife) achievement, many more Cubans were liquidated by other state assassins. In all, most credible estimates place the total dead somewhere between 15,000 to 18,000. That’s a lot of people for a tiny island. And again, it doesn’t include those who drowned while attempting an incredible swim.

The late professor R. J. Rummel, an expert on the sordid subject of death by government, estimates that from 1959-87 alone, the grand total of cadavers produced by Fidel ranged from 35,000 to as high as 141,000. How’s that for a resume? Actually, for a Communist leader, it’s pretty typical.

As we pause to remember Fidel Castro at the one-year anniversary of his demise, let us remember him for what he achieved the most: tyranny, repression, and death.     *

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Paul Kengor

Paul Kengor is a professor of political science and the executive director of the Center for Vision & Values at Grove City College. Paul Kengor is the author of God and Ronald Reagan: A Spiritual Life (2004), The Crusader: Ronald Reagan and the Fall of Communism (2007), The Judge: William P. Clark, Ronald Reagan’s Top Hand (Ignatius Press, 2007) and The Communist — Frank Marshall Davis: The Untold Story of Barack Obama’s Mentor (Threshold Editions / Mercury Ink 2012).

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