Many articles elicit intellectual interest, but Marcus Epstein's "The Upside-Down Flag" strikes a personal chord.
FrontPageMagazine.com 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.
On 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.
Biscet 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.
If 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.
Dr. 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.")
Biscet's 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.)
Alarmingly, 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.)
When 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.
Castro muzzles Dr. Biscet and other heroic dissidents because he dreads the edification fostered by discourse. America should not emulate his vicious inversion of justice.
August 24, 2001