Universities are supposed to encourage the free exchange of ideas.
This ideal, however, is ignored — even intentionally sabotaged — far too often. And way too often, those who exercise censorship are on the left side of the political spectrum.
Witness the recent uproar at Rutgers University in New Jersey, where students and faculty are trying to stop Condoleeza Rice from speaking at their graduation ceremony. Or the recent American Studies Association decision to boycott everything and everyone connected with Israel.
Take a look at this story from South Africa, too, which involves an event staged by the Castronoid ambassador from Cuba and propagandist film maker Estela Bravo.
The gist of the story is this: When a brave South African expressed his anti-Castro views, after being subjected to a propaganda barrage, he was quickly silenced, and the way in which it was done bears the unmistakable stamp of the Castro Ministry of Intimidation.
From Grocott’s Mail
Opinion: Speaking out about Cuba
by Mark Woodland
Being interested in politics and having studied the history of Cuba, particularly under the leadership of Fidel Castro, I eagerly attended an evening presentation on Cuba, hosted by Rhodes University Politics Department on Wednesday, 26 February.
The Barratt Lecture theatre was almost full to capacity – a sure sign that the topic was of interest to the student body. The guest speaker was “award-winning” documentary film maker, Estela Bravo.
I expected to witness a fair and balanced portrayal of recent historical events in Cuba.
I was disappointed, and here’s why: Bravo introduced herself and outlined the structure of her presentation which would take the form of two separate documentaries, focussing on Cuba’s relation to African politics.
The first documentary singled out the South African/Angolan conflict, the second dealt with the ANC/Nelson Mandela relationship with Cuba.
Bravo then introduced the audience to Carlos Fernandes de Cossio, the Cuban ambassador to South Africa, who proceeded to give a long brief on the social progress made during the Castro administration.
He spoke specifically about Cuba’s advancement of human rights, education and healthcare and condemned the trade embargo enacted against Cuba by the United States, which is still in place today.
The first documentary was recorded more than 25 years ago – a documentary recorded and edited before I was even born, a fact that made me question the objectivity of the information presented….
The second documentary portrayed a self-aggrandising image of Fidel Castro.
It was alarming the way in which our beloved Nelson Mandela was used by the Castro regime, to give it an air of legitimacy at a time when the Soviet Union was crumbling.
Cuba was portrayed as the great emancipator of the downtrodden….
…During question time, I voiced my opinion: It seemed to me that that the audience had been bombarded with propaganda championing the cause of Castro and the Republic of Cuba.
According to the Human Rights Watch, which is an internationally recognised institution, Cuba has an abysmal human rights record.
Cuban law denies its citizens freedom of expression, association, assembly, movement and press.
The government of Cuba has been responsible for systematic human rights abuses such as torture, arbitrary imprisonment, unfair trials and political executions on a massive scale.
In voicing my opinion to those assembled, I was attacked by de Cossio and repeatedly called a liar.
I was booed by the students.
Bravo joined the fray, condemning me and calling me a “rogue element”, not part of the university and described me as a person sent by an outside organisation to disrupt the event.
I flashed my student card and retorted that I was speaking on behalf of the Cuban people who are silenced by their repressive regime.
More boos erupted from the audience.
I want to thank the brave Rhodes academic who came to my defence.
As she said: the point of a University education is to provide a platform for the dissemination of information, the dissection of ideas and the formulation of opinions.
In contrast to Cuba, we all, in South Africa, enjoy freedom of expression; a right which is entrenched in our Constitution.
We all need to question the information that is placed before us, do our own research and be in a position to make informed decisions – and to voice our opinions.
Read the whole story HERE, and please post comments defending this brave and very bright South African.