60 years in exile and, unfortunately, my adopted country is becoming more and more like the Cuba I fled.

Newly-arrived refugee boy Tres Fotutos with his foster parents Louis and Norma Chait, their children Philip and Eric and their dog Victor. Photo taken in April 1962 at 7901 SW 22nd Street, Westchester, Miami, Florida

From our Bureau of Painful Memories, Déjà Vu, and Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome with some assistance from our Bureau of Potentially Dangerous Quixotic Gestures

Today is my second birthday. On this day, sixty years ago, I boarded a KLM plane with my brother and escaped from Castrogonia. It was the happiest day of my life and the saddest day of my life. I was flying out of hell, excited about gaining back my freedom, but I was leaving my entire family behind.

Six decades later, the country that has become my permanent home is a much different place, however, and some of the changes frighten me half to death.

I was reminded of this last night when I received a stern warning from my employer via email, in which I was threatened with penalties for not subjecting myself once again to a mandatory re-education “course” on workplace harassment.

I’m not at all opposed to teaching employees some basic rules of behavior. That’s necessary.

But to require anyone to take this “course” over and over again is an offense to anyone’s dignity. The information conveyed in it consists of very simple commonsense rules that anyone without severe brain damage can easily remember. Worse yet, it takes up a huge chunk of time and is conducted on line, and consists of very condescending mini-exams after every chapter in the lesson plan, to ensure that I have indeed paid attention and can click on the correct answer like some rat in a psychological experiment.

Yet, federal law requires me to keep taking this same kindergarten-level “course” over and over, every few years. Here’s how the order from on high is worded: “Completion of this training allows the university to comply with the law, ensures that employees are educated about harassment, and equips them with skills to prevent sexual harassment in the workplace. It is imperative that they complete this training.”

Sweet Lord Jesus, have mercy.

And this morning I see in the news that students at my previous place of employment, the University of Virginia, are demanding that former vice-president Mike Pence be barred from speaking there, because his “perspectives” are totally wrong and his ‘hateful rhetoric is violent.’ 

Fortunately, some faculty have denounced this very frightening request. Unfortunately, the denunciation has come from a mere 17 senior professors out of a faculty numbering a total of 1,575.

This is how awful and how Cuba-like the intellectual climate at American universities has become. Last night I wrote an angry email to my current employer and my colleagues, but I decided not to send it. I know it will not change anything and that the only result will be some sort of punishment.

So, yes, sadly, sixty years after arriving in the land of freedom, I find myself trapped in a land that resembles Cuba more and more each day.

Here’s the email I have decided not to send, posted here as a quixotic gesture.

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Sorry for my delay in subjecting myself to this humiliating and absolutely demeaning Orwellian ritual.  I will comply as soon as I have two hours to spare and can muster enough courage.

To be perfectly honest, I have tried to undergo this torture twice this year, but after twenty minutes or so I cracked.  I simply couldn’t continue.  

Having lived in a totalitarian state — and having escaped from it exactly 60 years ago on this very day, 6 April 1962 — I can’t help but observe that the last time I subjected myself to this required ritual a few years ago, it triggered one of the worst attacks of Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome I had ever experienced since escaping from the totalitarian hellhole which happened to be my birthplace.  

Taking this “course” once is enough, really.  I attended a May Day rally back in 1961 too, at which my local Big Brother delivered a four-hour speech.  That was enough too, really.  He had set up loudspeakers on every street corner in the city to ensure no one could hide from his wisdom.

Are all of us professors such dim light bulbs that — unlike the students we send out into the world — we need to be constantly brought back into the classroom to be re-educated?  

I will comply, yes, but on this anniversary of my escape from Big Brother’s watchful eye, I can’t help but observe that requirements such as this scare the bejeezus out of me, for they remind me a bit too much of Big Brother and those loudspeakers of his hanging from light posts on every corner. 

2 thoughts on “60 years in exile and, unfortunately, my adopted country is becoming more and more like the Cuba I fled.”

  1. It could be worse, professor. Wait until they get you to prove that you have studied, and mastered, all those DEI rules (diversity, equity and inclusion – move the letters around and it says the same thing but spells DIE – , exorcised yourself of your guilt from white privilege benefits, shown your loyalty to communist groups who want to tear down America, blasted Trump for loving America too much and Americans too exclusively, proved your bona fides about the good all of this illegal immigration is – oops – sorry, the benefit to America of having undocumented incomers, bowed low to accept your punishment as a capitalist pig earning money and not paying enough out to those who don’t work who need it more than you.

    I could go on. It is coming. The great reset where Europe gets to tax America. And the universities are all in favor of it.

    All together now, let’s sing. Imagine there’s no country…

  2. The Trinity of Truth:

    Immutable Truth #1: Liberalism is a mental disorder.
    Immutable Truth #2: everything Democrats touch turns to shit.
    Immutable Truth #3: Whatever the Democrats want, do the exact opposite.

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