22 thoughts on “If only there were leaders like him today…”

  1. Well, yes and no. Jefferson was also the first U.S. president to champion openly the annexation of Cuba through a process he defined as waiting for the “ripe apple” to fall. In effect, this is what the U.S. did. When the Cuban rebels led by Máximo Gómez were on the verge of victory against the Spanish, the U.S., which had always been indifferent and even hostile to the Cuban cause, intervened in our War of Independence (1898) with the calamitous consequences which we all know too well.

    I might also point out that Abraham Lincoln also had his sights on our hapless country with no good intentions. He wanted to use Cuba as a “dumping grounds” for the emancipated American slaves. Lincoln freed them for expediency’s sake but didn’t want them to remain in the U.S. after the end of the Civil War. In fact, he had always been a sopporter of the African colonization movement (that is, of sending blacks back to Africa); but in the end recognized that the scheme was impractical and so settled on nearby Cuba. How he intended to appropriate Cuba, by purchase or war, is not known. José Martí condemns him for it.

  2. Never forget that these were men of their age afflicted by the prejudices of the times. Just pray that the things which WE do today in all our righteous glory don’t make us the asses of future opinion. Sure Jefferson had flaws. But he was like 55 and 2 in intellectual decision making. Give him his due please.

  3. Tomás Estrada Palma:

    I don’t get your point at all. “Our righteous glory?” What can you possibly mean? I’ll go out on a limb and guess that what you mean is that we should not judge former times by the standards of today. This, of course, makes absolutely no sense either. Right is always right and wrong is always wrong. Slavery is wrong. It was wrong in the 18th century. It was wrong in the 19th century. It is wrong today. By the same token, apologists for slavery will always be wrong. It is certainly wrong to proclaim that “all men are created equal” and then to own slaves all your life. Carlos Manuel de Céspedes realized this even if Jefferson did not. His first act upon declaring Cuba’s independence was to free his slaves.

    We can admire Jefferson’s genius, accomplishments and his impact on mankind, which in the main has been for the good. But these do not negate his failings. If anything, they make his failings even more apparent.

  4. I think it was also Jefferson who suggested that when people are displeased with government tyranny they have the revolutionary right to overthrow their government. Certainly something US officials should have considered before selling bombs and guns to Battista and his ilk.

  5. As I said “Flaws” so I do not know what you do not understand. A flaw is not a positive trait. If you wish to focus on the few flawed traits of Jefferson be my guest. But most assuredly you and I both have made flawed decisions in our life due to a lack of knowledge. That was the point that you missed. So there is absolutely no reason to speculate or place innuendos upon me. I am willing to admit that I have made bad decisions. Perhaps you have never made one. Fortunate I have never been an apologist for slavery. In fact income tax is slavery so I would hope you do not favor that as well. Seizure of labor is always wrong don’t you think?

  6. By the way if I meant that we should not judge former times by the standards of today I would have said “We should not judge yesterday by the standards of today” because I always try to be clear in my meaning. Since I at no time have ever said or wrote that, combined with the fact that you and I both know this to be a silly way to make value judgments, you can rest assured it is not my approach to this question. I always attempted to judge everything from every imaginable perspective. The more one can do this the closer to the truth they will be. But the point I WAS making is that neither you nor I will ever be right in all our decisions and that hopefully the mistakes that we are all bound to make as mere humans, and not the Lord, do not come back to haunt our decedents. With the Internet that will become more and more difficult to avoid.

    For example: A couple decades ago when I was young, hot headed and having a few too many drinks one night I was reading my Reason Magazine. It had a article which basically said I would be crazy to vote for Andre Marrou, the Libertarian party candidate for president. Well I shot off a letter and slammed them in every imaginable way possible including many which were factually wrong and silly. Next issue they gladly pointed these out to me and the initial thousands of readers. I accused them of slandering my friend Andre which upon sober recollection would not be what they were guilty of in any sense of the word. Now of course it remains on the Net two decades later embarrassing me. So I try to make my words soft and sweet in the event I find myself eating them once again. That’s the only point I was trying to make. Perhaps I should have been more clear. My apologies.

  7. TJ was a genius, period.
    While I am no apologist slavery, he was well ahead of his time. Without him, there would be no concept of democracy as we know it today.
    There would not have been a stable democracy that the US has had for several hundred years, with the exception of the Civil War (which by the way was fought with slavery abolition as a major issue). There would not have been anyone to counter the Nazi, commmunist, and islamofascist threats and generally oppose tyranny. There would not have been a county where MILLIONS of Cubans would settle in search of freedom, prosper and keep alive hope.
    While I agree with the vast majority of your views, and I recognize that the US has made critical mistakes in regards to Cuba, the U.S. has been an extremely positive force for freedom and justice in the world, especially in regards to Cuba. I sense you have a tendency “focus” on the US in a negative light. While you have a right to do that, if you point out what’s not so good, lets be fair and recognize all the good that it has done too. This is the ONLY country that has stood really stood with us during this nightmare.

  8. Hoffman,
    Batista was an absolute angel compared to what Cuba has now. I would have preferred the US would have continued supplying Batista instead of what we have now.

  9. I think it was also Jefferson who suggested that when people are displeased with government tyranny they have the revolutionary right to overthrow their government. Certainly something US officials should have considered before selling bombs and guns to Batista and his ilk.” — JM Hoffman

    Yes, Jefferson did advocate revolution as a universal panacea and even went so far as to support the “egg cracking” (or should that be “head-lopping”) of the French Revolution. I do not think, however, that Jefferson would have supported a revolution which denied the rights of man, as Castro’s does. On paper at least if not in practice, the French Revolution conformed to Jefferson’s high ideals (which he did not always practice either).

    By the way, the U.S. placed an embargo on arms sales to the Batista government, which precipitated its fall. Never before had the U.S. done this to a friendly government. It would do so again to precipitate the fall of Somoza and the shah. In all these cases the U.S. betrayed its allies and reaped what it had sowed.

  10. Max:

    I am an oldtime Cuban nationalist, in a direct line from Martí, whose opinions on the U.S. were even more critical than mine and based on his blessed prescience, whereas I have had the benefit of a century of betrayals stemming from 1898 to today.

    Those Cuban-Americans who were born and raised in this country have a duty to love and defend it. I respect that quality in them. For my part, my loyalties lie elsewhere and I am as true to them as they are to theirs.

  11. Tomás Estrada Palma:

    I have written millions of words over my lifetime and not a single one which I regret or would not defend today. Flaws I avow and mistakes I have made just as any other man. But never on paper. Because there I have had the time to reflect upon and analyze my thoughts. Sadly, this is something which Jefferson himself did not always do. If he had perhaps he would not have written a 120-page treatise on the inferiority of American Indians or espoused slavery in practice if not in principle. If you are going to worship any man, worship Martí. He had all of Jefferson’s eloquence and a purer democrat.

    As for the income tax, you know, of course, who instituted that. Yes, “Honest Abe.”

  12. A million words written and never even one regretted. That truly is unbelievable and worthy of note. You didn’t state your opposition to income tax – just some history on its origin. You don’t support income tax though right? As for worshiping Jefferson, Lincoln or Marti I’ll have to pass and save my worship for a higher authority. But you can choose to follow any religious path and I’ll still support your right to that choice.

  13. Tomás Estrada Palma:

    Yes, isn’t it remarkable? I attribute it to the fact that I always think before I write, not just write what I think.

    I did not suggest that you worship Martí in a religious sense, but as a preferable civic model to Jefferson. Being a Cuban, you know who he was and are an heir to his legacy.

    I should prefer that there be no income tax. However, I have other windmills to charge at.

  14. Then perhaps a better choice of words would have been “admire” instead of worship which has always been traditionally used in the religious sense. In retrospect I’d imagine you wish now that you had not used the word “worship” when you meant admire. But I won’t hold it against you. We all make mistakes – even written ones. Cheers!

  15. Tomás Estrada Palma:

    I meant worship; for such your infatuation with Jefferson seemed to me. I simply suggested that you do your worshipping in Martí’s temple, not Jefferson’s. (Please don’t take me literally and go looking for such temples).

    You are entitled to as many mistakes as you wish to make. In my writing, at least, I don’t allow myself even one.

  16. Here’s another Jefferson quote:

    “In civil life, a cold-blooded, calculating, unprincipled usurper, without a virtue; no statesman, knowing nothing of commerce, political economy, or civil government, and supplying ignorance by bold presumption.”

    Did Jefferson know Castro? Was he a Nostradamus? No, he actually said this about Napoleon, but it fits Castro to a T.

  17. I wish to make no mistakes. However, I admit to making many mistakes written and otherwise. You have suggested incorrectly the meaning of my clearly written words. Then you suggest what I should do “worship” when you meant “admire.” Then you tell me not to interpret you literally. By the way your last post was written using incorrect sentence structure and maybe there and in your previous posts perhaps you wish now that you had written more clearly your intent because it is not obvious without deeper and deeper clarifications on your part. The more this discourse continues the more I find it difficult to believe that you still believe you have never written even one regrettable word. You admit to as much right here that you have chosen words poorly and now give replacement words to clarify. I await your response of course. But maybe you cannot see this in real time like everyone else who reads this but the more you defend this assertion of having never ever flawed even once in the written form – when clearly you have done so here a number of times – calls attention to just the opposite. I haven’t put words in your mouth but have endured that from you even though I have written clearly. You have not written clearly and advised me to not take your words on the face value literally but in some figurative sense. Are you positive that you have never made a written mistake my friend?

  18. Oh please, Tomás. I said that I have never regretted a word that I have ever written and you proceed to parse my language? Are you serious? Because if this is the game that you want to play, I am the world champion. There are no mistakes of any kind in my writing here; what there may be are deficiencies in your education. These I will gladly supply if you wish, though I detest such exercises.

  19. Manuel,
    You are indeed very eloquent, and I generally enjoy most of your posts. But “world champion” or “never made a mistake…”

    Only god never makes mistakes.

    On another note, you are entitled to your viewpoints, and I share many of those viewpoints. Marti was indeed a genius and a great man, however I have to agree with Tomas that your choice of using “worship” instead of “admiring” was not appropriate.

    Let’s clarify your position on the United States.
    Do you feel the United States has done more bad than good in regards to Cuba over its history?
    What about the world in general? Is it not true that the United States has been first and foremost the only nation that has countered tyranny over at least the last 100 years?
    Is not not true that the United States has been the only country to take ANY kind of a stand against the regime in Cuba, at least until some of the former eastern bloc countries did?
    I strongly feel you want to focus on what what the United States may not have done well, while ignoring the fact that the US has championed democracy, and without it, communism would have run rampant and we as a people would NOT have the freedom we enjoy today.
    Please understand, I agree wholeheartedly with you on the U.S. mistakes in regards to Cuba. I do NOT agree with your overall condemnation of the U.S.

  20. Max:

    You must read me more carefully. I didn’t say that I don’t make mistakes. In fact, I said the very opposite. What I did say was that I have never regretted a single word which I have ever ever written. If you know yourself and are to true to yourself, then you won’t have to regret anything you write either.

    As for “world champion,” you also take that out of context. When Tomás presumed to parse my sentences, I asked him if he wanted to reduce this discussion to such a level, because when it comes to parsing sentences, I am the world champion. Which is true.

    As for my position towards ther U.S., it is very simple. Since 1898, there is no betrayal that it has not inflicted on Cuba; no humiliation that it has not inflection on Cuba; and no time that it has ever kept faith with Cuba. Does that answer your question? Of course, its treatment of Cuba does not cancel the fact that it has been the bulwark of freedom in the world since World War I.

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