Fabiola Santiago has once again fired one of her illogical missiles against so-called “hardliners” in the Cuban community.
This time around, she has chosen to vilify those Cubans who don’t want to see the Institute for Cuban and Cuban American Studies turned into yet another center for pro-Castro activities.
Can there be a more opportune gift to the Cuban regime than an exile community at war with itself? As for academic virtue, there’s little credibility when you politicize your agenda. ICCAS can stand improvement and update.
The Cuban exile community is not a monolith of thought and purpose, as much as a sector of Cuban Miami and the ruling class in Cuba would like it to be so. Both extremes are mirror images of each other, but the majority makes up the heftier middle and comes in all sorts of political hues.
Just like the Cuban dictatorship purports to speak for the Cuban people, the hardliners in Miami don’t speak for all Cuban Americans.
Ms. Santiago argues that it’s time to “modernize” the ICCAS, that is, to make it “more open to engagement,” a euphemism for “more open for cooperation with the Castro regime for accepting its propaganda.”
“Engagement” means accepting the legitimacy of the Castro regime and cooperating with it, and Ms. Santiago seems to think that such a course of action is neutral and objective — that it is somehow the most reasonable approach to be taken towards the study of Cuban politics and culture. What Ms. Santiago fails to understand about academic institutions that focus on political issues such as ICCAS is that there is no such thing as neutrality or objectivity when it comes to politics. There is no “middle,” really.
But, alas, Ms. Santiago seems to think there is such a thing. She even thinks there is a “hefty middle” when it comes to political attitudes among Cubans, and goes as far as to equate “hardliners” in the Cuban community with the monsters who run the Castro regime.
Ms. Santiago also seems unaware of the fact that American universities are full of institutes with very clearly-defined political goals, and that it is standard procedure for them to politicize their agenda. In fact, it could be said that just about every institute and think tank in the U.S. is politicized and agenda-driven in one way or another, and that the vast majority of them lean to the left, and quite a few of them to the hard left.
Of course, every institute promotes its agenda as reasonable, and many of them disingenuously claim they’re not politicized. But that does not mean that every agenda is necessarily reasonable, in and of itself, or un-politicized, or that it is value-free or bias-free.
Why shouldn’t the ICCAS at the University of Miami be entitled to resemble similar institutions elsewhere — that is, why shouldn’t it be able to promote a specific agenda, and to do so without having to pretend that it is neutral or that it approaches political issues as value-free?
If pro-Castro Cubans or Cubans indifferent to Castro — or the “hefty middle”, as Ms. Santiago prefers to say — want to promote their agenda, there are plenty of other institutes they can support. Or why don’t they simply establish their own institute if they are dissatisfied with all the others that deal with Latin America and Cuba?
There’s the rub. The sad truth is that the so-called “hefty middle” is not really interested in “balance.” Simply put, what the so-called “hefty middle” wants is for the so-called “hardliners” to shut up and go away.
As Ms. Santiago sees it, ICCAS is an ugly embarrassment, and says it is “reminiscent of times when Cuban Miami was criticized around the nation for lacking respect for academic and artistic freedoms.”
It could be argued that academic freedom is precisely what is at stake in recent events at UM and its ICCAS, and that if anything is “ugly” at all in recent developments, it is not the unabashedly anti-Castro stance of the ICCAS, but the attempt being made by President Frenk and associates to masquerade their censorship of that stance as respect for “academic freedom.”
It is sheer lunacy to argue — as Ms. Santiago does — that the so-called “hard liners” are actually helping the Castro regime because they fracture the exile community, and that their so-called extremism is no different from that of the Castro regime. Such illogical vitriol is also convincing proof of Ms. Santiago’s own lack of respect for dissent and genuine political dialogue.
Oh, but what else is new? Genuine tolerance has never been a distinguishing feature of the left in the United States, or anywhere. And being embarrassed by one’s elders and one’s ethnic group has long been an earmark of the children and grandchildren of immigrants.
Anyway… see for yourself…. go here for the full diatribe from Ms. Santiago.