Kweisi Mfume's Moral Apartheid

by Myles Kantor

Gail Jarvis recently discussed the Directors Guild of America's re-naming of its D.W. Griffith Award after a complaint by NAACP President Kweisi Mfume.

This is classic Kweisi. Mr. Mfume (whose homepage boasts of his belligerent name) and his organization have exerted for some time against things Confederate and Confederate-related.

For instance, the NAACP announced "economic sanctions" and organized marches against South Carolina for not banishing the Confederate Battle Flag from public locations. At its 2001 convention after Mississippi voters chose to preserve a Confederate presence on their state flag, the NAACP passed a resolution "to continue supporting efforts to change the current Mississippi state flag."

The NAACP wages these campaigns because it professes concern for people of color and what it perceives as their historical dehumanization represented by Confederate symbols.

This sensitivity is a charade. Why? Because the NAACP ignores the present dehumanization of its brethren in our own hemisphere.

While Cuba is often thought to be mostly white given the racial composition of Miami's exile community, people of color are a majority in Cuba. Blacks and mulattoes constitute over sixty percent of Cuba's population, and they are not exempt from its totalitarianism.

The black abolitionist Frederick Douglass observed that "Liberty is meaningless where the right to utter one’s thoughts and opinions has ceased to exist." If an Afro-Cuban wishes to start his own newspaper as Douglass started The North Star, he cannot do so; if an Afro-Cuban criticizes Fidel Castro or his one-party regime, he can be ripped from his loved ones on charges of "disrespect" or "enemy propaganda"; if a group of Afro-Cubans discusses their race's repression by this white autocrat, they can be charged with "illicit association."

Not content to muzzle Afro-Cubans, the regime also enslaves them; an Afro-Cuban cannot leave Cuba without permission and payment of exit fees. Douglass affirmed, "It is a fundamental truth that every man is the rightful owner of his own body." Castro instead emulates the 1852 Alabama slave code: "No slave must go beyond the limits of the plantation on which he resides, without a pass."

Afro-Cubans who assert their human rights suffer severely. To name just two of Castro's Afro-Cuban victims, Dr. Oscar Elias Biscet and Vladimiro Roca are Amnesty International prisoners of conscience.

Given Castro's systematic violation of Afro-Cubans' human rights, one would expect stentorian words from Kweisi Mfume and the NAACP demanding the liberation of Dr. Biscet, Roca, and their Afro-Cuban countrymen. Yet the supposed guardian of black people's rights has not issued so much as a press release in this vein.

The reason for this silence can't be that the NAACP is dedicated exclusively to domestic matters. Its timeline reads under 1985, "The NAACP leads a massive anti-apartheid rally in New York." Apparently Cuba's subjugated people of color are negligible.

G.K. Chesterton notes in What's Wrong with the World:

We often read nowadays of the valor or audacity with which some rebel attacks a hoary tyranny or an antiquated superstition. There is not really any courage at all in attacking hoary or antiquated things, any more than in offering to fight one’s grandmother. The really courageous man is he who defies tyrannies young as the morning and superstitions fresh as the first flowers.

Kweisi Mfume and his peers have all the energy in the world when it comes to denouncing the defunct Confederacy. When it comes to the captivity of nearly seven million Afro-Cubans in 2002, their consciences go on holiday.

Mfume's desertion of Afro-Cubans is moral apartheid, and he should be called to task for it.

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