Saturday, November 3, 2007

A "Slim Line"

This week's Miami New Times lends support to speculation of Luis Posada Carriles' whereabouts: The Big Five Club in Miami.

Reporter Janine Zeitlin recounts her recent visit to the Big Five Club where Posada Carriles was scheduled to appear as the guest of honor to an art show. Posada Carriles is himself a steady painter of landscapes and portraits related to Cuban history, and had work shown. He appears to be quite good, and obviously very popular among some Cuban exiles.

The Big Five Club itself has a long Cuban history. It's name is a memorial to the old elite social clubs from Havana: the Biltmore Yacht and Country Club, Havana Yacht Club, Miramar Yacht Club, Vedado Tennis Club and Casino Español. According to a 1991 article, "[s]entiment for a touch of pre-Castro Havana and a desire to perpetuate the old social order were the motivating forces and glue behind the creation of the Big Five Club back in the 1960's, when the exile community reluctantly confronted the harsh reality that Castro could not be easily dislodged." An art show featuring Luis Posada Carriles and José Dionisio Suarez Esquivel is but another memorial to Cuban freedom fighters and desires to return to a Cuba free of the Castro regime.

The New Times article also features Enrique Encinosa, who has publicly stated that he supports terrorist methods to bring freedom to Cuba. This week on Radio Mambi, reporting on the recent death of Paul Warfield Tibbets Jr, the pilot who dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Encinosa described the atrocity as an act of US terrorism. But, gave the impression that it may have been justified. Zeitlin quotes Encinosa describing Posada Carriles:

"[P]eople who think he's a murderer and horrible terrorist are not going to like anything that he does... People who know him know he fights for freedom. He's a talented man with a sensitivity in his heart."

Another attendee to the art show says that Posada "is not a terrorist, but a great patriot... There's a slim line."

This "slim line" may reveal a moral dilemma. Even heroes of the American Revolution have committed acts that we can describe as acts of terrorism. Take George Washington, our first American president, for example.

In 2005, the book Year of the Hangman: George Washington's Campaign Against the Iroquois described another controversial moment in early American history. As the British army began their advance against American rebels around 1777 they also sought the recruitment of American Natives, such as the Iroquois who feared American expansionism. General Washington and his Continental Army was swift in targeting the Iroquois who were increasingly joining the British army. Washington's strategy called for the "total destruction and devastation" of Iroquois villages in the north around New York. According to the historical documents, Gen. Washington sought nothing but terror and violence upon the villages, and in exchange deplete the man power and other important resources the British army depended on. The author of Year of the Hangman argues that this strategic act was a crucial element in America's victory over the British.

Was Washington a freedom fighter, or terrorist? In my personal opinion, there's really no slim line, whether it be Posada Carriles or Washington. I don't see how extreme acts of violence that target civilians can be ever be justified, unless of course our moral principles are already inclined on messianism, or emotional calls for amorphous constructs like "freedom."

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