articles elicit intellectual interest, but Marcus
Epstein's "The Upside-Down Flag" strikes a personal
readers are familiar with my writings on Dr. Oscar Elias Biscet.
A pro-life Cuban physician and Christian, Biscet was barred by the
communist regime from practicing medicine in 1998 when he documented
its barbaric abortion system.
October 28, 1999, Dr. Biscet held a press conference announcing
a march to protest the regime's totalitarian abuses. An inverted
Cuban flag appeared during the press conference to symbolize distress.
was arrested on November 3, 1999 and charged with ultraje a los
simbolos de la patria (insult to the symbols of the homeland).
A three-year sentence followed in February 2000.
anyone incarnates what Herman Melville refers to as "the agony
of the strong," it is Biscet. While in the Holguin province's
Cuba Si prison nearly 500 miles apart from his family, Biscet has
suffered over a month of solitary confinement and confiscation of
his Bible (an especially malicious torture in light of his devoutness),
among other violence.
Biscet's imprisonment (within the greater prison that is Cuba) for
inverting a flag has a contemptible coherence. In a slave regime
such as Fidel Castro's, no facet of human action is beyond political
control. As El Comandante proclaimed early on, "Inside
the Revolution, everything; outside the Revolution, nothing."
(Castro echoes Mussolini here: "Everything within the State,
nothing outside the State, nothing against the State.")
inversion of a particular fabric becomes criminal because it affirms
a creed different than Castro's historically ordained Marxism-Leninism.
Castro being a vigilant command ideologist, Biscet's counterrevolutionary
pluralism must be purged. ("Disrespect" and "enemy
propaganda" are also criminal in Communist Cuba.)
Castro-type foreclosure of the philosophic marketplace has diffused
to our sweet land of liberty. Whether
through musical muzzling, sartorial
Stalinism, or campus commissars, America is behaving in a most
un-American manner. (On the latter pestilence, see Alan Charles
Kors and Harvey A. Silvergate's The
Shadow University: The Betrayal of Liberty on America's Campuses.)
the State censors, it trespasses upon the mind and coerces conviction.
Censorship is therefore a form of aggression, and aggression isn't
conducive to peace.
muzzles Dr. Biscet and other heroic dissidents because he dreads
the edification fostered by discourse. America should not emulate
his vicious inversion of justice.