Cuba

Conspiracy Theorists and Haterade

I’ve come to the conclusion that folks who consistently hate on “conspiracy theories” either don’t actually know HOW to read (let alone WHAT to read) OR they are in the employ of architects of conspiracies.

If a conspiracy is little more than a willful attempt to eliminate or minimize risk from our many endeavors, why is there so much contempt for those who develop conspiracy theories?  If a conspiracy theorist told you three decades ago that the United States government attempted to assassinate other heads of state, what it take to establish credibility?  Don’t tell me.  A three decades overdue report from that same government attesting to those very assassination attempts.  Now, if that’s the case, you must know you’re dumber than a box of rox.

If Jose Canseco told you that baseball was full of steroid users and you panned his revelations as the rant of a disgruntled player, what would it take to rehabilitate his account?  The national media almost universally dismissed Canseco as a resident of the lunatic fringe.  Canseco is in from the cold, but the national media has yet to look at much more than the stories handed to them by players.  It’s hard to believe that illegally breached grand jury testimony of a single player lies at the heart of an ongoing media fascination with something alleged to dominate the game.  If your focus is on that single player instead of the relationship between a media which ignored the story in 1998 and now refuses to dig deep, you must know your dumber than a box of rox.

Conspiracy theorists are often easily dismissed because their depictions in the popular mind are highly stereotyped.  If you’re looking for renegade hippies with all the social skill of your psychotic Uncle Jerry, then the mission has been accomplished.  Still, there are individuals and groups whose sole purpose is to minimize risk – and if that is your sole purpose, you will ACTIVELY work to eliminate or reduce randomness and/or actions by others that impact your bottom line.  If your bottom line was gambling and tourism money from Bautista’s Cuba, and you exercised a risk management imperative, it might look like a “Bay of Pigs” operation or something similar.

And, yet…there are so many people living in our pseudo-random society who simply cannot imagine that someone actually plans their day.  These people pay insurance premiums – and that industry is predicated on mathematical formulas on your longevity and quality of life.  Accidents are for suckers.  The CIA doesn’t believe in accidents – they simply assert the principle of “plausible deniability.”  Now, what’s plausible to you is really what is up for questioning.  Why do you believe what you believe?

Do you know?

Freedom House

I was doing some reading this afternoon and decided to search online for human rights violations in Cuba. There was so much information online, it was difficult to find a starting point. It occurred to me to check out Freedom House. I suppose I am that moth who flew too close to the propaganda flames. “Singed a bit, were you?!?” (Cary Elwes to Robin Wright, after crossing the Fire Swamp in The Princess Bride). Freedom House is often quoted as a source of non-partisan information about the status of political, media and other freedoms in states across the world.

The website offers this historical perspective: “Freedom House is a clear voice for democracy and freedom around the world. Founded over 60 years ago by Eleanor Roosevelt, Wendell Willkie, and other Americans concerned with the mounting threats to peace and democracy, Freedom House has been a vigorous proponent of democratic values and a steadfast opponent of dictatorships of the far left and the far right.

The website offers detailed reports on every nation and even a series of annual Freedom Maps. Of particular interest to me, however, was the manner in which this non-partisan group dealt with nations like the US, Cuba, Israel and South Africa over time. Lucky for me, Freedom House also has an Excel Spreadsheet with the various freedom ratings for every country since 1972. It seems, “For 1972, South Africa was rated as “White” (2,3 Free) and “Black” (5,6 Not Free).”

Two things here. The racist audacity of printing two ratings for a single country is astounding – even for white folks with presidential connections. I believe Snoop Dogg and the Eastsidaz refer to this as Balls of Steel (audio file – Amazon sample). For Freedom House, there appeared to be two legitimate South Africas. Second: oddly enough, the United States with its COINTELPRO activities, hard core residential and labor discrimination, redlining, property tax biases in public education and disparate incarceration rates received a single rating atop the scales as the most free regime in the world.

In 2005, Israel and the Israel Occupied Territories received separate ratings. Not much has changed at Freedom House in 30 years. Oh, and by the way, Cuba – the regime that sent troops into Angola and beat back the South African army in defense of freedom for black folk received the lowest grades possible – a “7.” At no time since 1972 did South Africa ever receive such a grade. Cuba is certainly not a nation which tolerates dissent; nonetheless, given the volume and scale of US efforts to overthrow Castro and restore the nation to the machinations of a new Batista, this repression has a context. How many dalliances with big business and the mafia can a poor island withstand? As it stands, the greatest criticisms of Cuba today have as much to do with the US constant efforts to usurp the existing regime (and its embargo) as anything else. Political repression and poverty are likely outcomes of resisting Goliath without a slingshot.

Freedom House provides an outstanding platform for moderates and others to engage in propaganda while purporting neutrality. Sometimes, getting clear about someone’s real agenda only requires a little glimpse into their history. Thirty years ago, Freedom House saw fit to affirm the freedom of whites in South Africa and endorse the essence of apartheid by issuing separate ratings for this nation. Today, it does the same thing in Israel. Not much has changed.