After combing through dozens upon dozens of articles and commentary regarding Ozzie Guillen’s insulting remarks on Fidel Castro, one thing has become abundantly clear besides the fact that Guillen still has a knack for making asinine statements: Cuban exiles in Miami are a despicable intolerant community. Imagine that. The victims of Guillen’s opprobrious comments are actually the ones who deserve the blame for this controversy. It turns out that in the view of many in the press, the remarks by the Miami Marlins manager praising a dictator responsible for the murder of thousands and the exile of millions did not expose his callous predilection for Fidel but instead exposed just how disdainful and horrible Cuban Americans in Miami truly are for expressing their disapproval.
Over and over again, I read how it is all about Guillen’s freedom to express himself as he pleases, no matter how stupid the remarks. Sure, it may be politically incorrect speech, but it is a right at the heart of this country’s founding principles, they say. Nonetheless, after reading several of these opinions, it appears that this right does not extend to Miami’s Cuban Americans. While Ozzie is free to say whatever he likes, no matter how insulting it may be, Cuban Americans should keep their thoughts and comments to themselves. In other words, the victims of Ozzie’s statements should abdicate their own right to free expression, sit quietly, and take the insults and disrespect with a smile on their face.
There is no doubt that Guillen’s clownish behavior has sparked a response made up of other clownish behavior by some in this community. Cameras and microphones have searched every nook and cranny in Little Havana to photograph and record the most outrageous reaction they can find. But lost in this spectacle is the fact that if Ozzie has a “right” to be a clown, everyone else has a right to be a clown as well. However, that is not how many see this controversy. To them, the entire story is a loutish exile community trying to restrict his free speech.
This controversy brings back to the surface the contemptuous perception of the Cuban exile community held by many in this country. While other embattled minority groups are treated with deference, Cuban exiles are all too often treated with disdain. They find nothing wrong with poking fun at the tragedy and suffering we have endured. It is alright to insult Cuban Americans because they are, after all, only Cuban Americans. They are not Puerto Ricans, or Mexicans, and to some, they are not even worthy of the “Latino” label (which is fine by me). Their bad fortune and suffering is all their fault, not the fault of the vile and brutal dictator who victimized them. Like the repugnant premise that a rape victim brought sexual assault upon herself for dressing too provocatively, Cubans exiles brought murder and the destruction of millions of lives upon themselves for being too uppity and apparently, too willing to express their opinions.
Chances are this controversy will run its course and before long, especially if the Marlins have a good season, we will have all forgotten about it. But what we will not forget is the fact that the Cuban exile community, which has suffered more than its fair share of pain, continues to be marginalized by those who simply do not like us. We are victims of a brutal and murderous dictatorship, and as far as many are concerned, we deserve the blame for that.