Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Who's Silencing Who? [Updated]

Earlier today, the Babalu Blog (Alberto De la Cruz) posted information about Thursday's protest at the Carlyle Theater, Miami Beach. De la Cruz links to a Spanish news website (Net for Cuba) with an official press release by "The Cuban Committee in Exile," and provides an English translation. The link also directs readers to a series of videos showing a Spanish-language documentary called "Guevera: Anatomy of a Myth."

According to De la Cruz: "We encourage all who can attend to do so. We cannot allow revisionists to silence our voices and insult the memories of the tens of thousands that died at the hands of this assassin and his thugs."

Who's silencing Thursday's protest?

On the contrary, the current letter campaign targeting city and county officials in South Florida (which I posted about yesterday) is aimed to STOP the screening of this supposed "Che" film in Miami Beach. As Ruby Feria described it, the film screening would amount to a form of "terrorism." And, most likely, this means that some Cuban exiles hope that the film NEVER screens anywhere in South Florida because, as the Cuban Committee in Exile put it, "premiering such a movie in a city like Miami, full of victims of this black chapter suffered by our community under the bloody dictatorship of the Castros is a repugnant offense and a show of utter disrespect to the Cuban-American community."

So, who's trying to silence who?

In fact, De la Cruz also links to an earlier post by Humberto Fontova, Babalu Blog's favorite author, where Fontova suggests that perhaps banning the film in Miami wouldn't be a bad idea. He wrote:

"John Cusacks movie 'Max' about the young Hitler was due for release when the Jewish Defense League and Anti-Defamation League campaigned to have it banned from private venues.... Given the local demographics, can you imagine a 'Max' showing at this same The Carlyle Theater?"

In the past, I've described Humberto Fontova as a propagandist, and this quote only further supports that description. In this case, Fontova has intentionally left out what occured AFTER some Jewish organizations protested the "Max" film. Furthermore, what resulted in that case could provide an interesting lesson for Cuban exiles who plan to protest on Thursday.

In 2002, director Menno Meyjes released his film "Max," a fictional story based on a young Adolf Hitler, which soon met protests from prominent Jewish organizations. Humberto Fontova is correct in stating that groups like the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) protested the film, but I cannot find any information that states they wanted the film banned. Anyway, upon the movie's release, the ADL had soon changed their position AFTER they viewed the film.

ADL's national director, Abraham Foxman, wrote:

"While some people will find it offensive, 'Max' does not glorify Hitler in any way, offering an accurate and realistic portrayal of Hitler the monster that certainly does not lend itself to a sympathetic view. The film shows a man strongly influenced and motivated by his anti-Semitism and likewise offers a realistic portrayal of the rampant anti-Semitism of the period."

A few months after, Morris Casudo, regional director of the San Diego Office of the Anti-Defamation League, said:

"Although I said I would not have voluntarily seen this movie, having seen it I think it's a powerful portrayal of a society in extremis being led by the most extremist elements, and so I would encourage people to see that film, it's chilling, frightening, discomforting, disturbing but so is life. I think this film is valuable in showing a society that was being torn apart."

Even one Jewish publication gave a very objective review of the film. But, Humberto Fontova doesn't want these facts to be known. They obviously don't support his goal to advocate anger and distress among the Cuban exile community. And, unfortunately, Alberto de la Cruz is just perpetuating these negative feelings.

While I don't oppose the planned protests for Thursday at the Carlyle, I think all persons planning to demonstrate should be properly informed about the "Che" film before they go. Maybe the film has some value, as the ADL discovered about the film they initially protested. But, banning the "Che" film would have serious consequences for our free society, which depends on the sharing of various points of view.

[Photo above of Miguel Saavedra of Vigilia Mambisa, who attacked counter-protesters in Miami, 2007]

[Update: You can view copies of the letters sent to Miami Beach Mayor Matti Bower here and (in Spanish) here. Both demand city officials to take a position to support or oppose the film screening. ]