FIDEL CASTRO was a very accommodating fellow. He died just a few hours before I did my weekly radio program, thereby giving me the great gift of his demise as topic No. 1. I made the most of it. Most of the show was devoted to wishing him a speedy trip to hell, hoping his flesh would be sizzling for eternity, and sprinkling in a few "attaboys" to St. Michael the Archangel, who most certainly gave El Lider Maximo an introductory tour of his new lodgings.
Along the way, I complained about the people who felt it appropriate to pray for the dictator's repose, such as my pope, who really needs to get a better PR person or, failing that, should make like a Meatless Friday and clam up. The pontiff actually sent a sympathetic message to the family of this brutal dictator, who are themselves lesser versions of that unique evil, saying, "On receiving the sad news of the death of your dear brother, His Excellency Mister Fidel Alejandro Castro Ryz, former president of the State Council and of the Government of the Republic of Cuba, I express my sentiments of sorrow to Your Excellency and other family members of the deceased dignitary, as well as to the people of this beloved nation."
Not exactly "burn in hell, monster," but you wouldn't expect that from Francis. After all, who is he to judge? Still, one would have expected some reference to Castro's half-century of torture, repression, megalomania and brutal narcissism along with the Mass card and the hot casserole. This is especially the case after the pope condemned Donald Trump for even thinking of building a wall, calling him "un-Christian." I'm wondering how "Christian" the walls of Castro's prisons look to the pontiff.
Yes, that is flippant, and I probably just guaranteed another century or so in purgatory, but I really don't care. Evil needs to be labeled for what it is, not whitewashed because the decrepit 90-year-old shell that contained it finally broke apart.
President Obama served up his usual cool, calm platitude: "During my presidency, we have worked hard to put the past behind us, pursuing a future in which the relationship between our two countries is defined not by our differences but by the many things that we share as neighbors and friends - bonds of family, culture, commerce and common humanity." Blah.
Others mourned a bit more deeply, including another decrepit nonagenarian by the name of Jimmy Carter, who said this upon learning of the death of Cuba's famous son: "Rosalynn and I share our sympathies with the Castro family and the Cuban people on the death of Fidel Castro. We remember fondly our visits with him in Cuba and his love of country. We wish the Cuban citizens peace and prosperity in the years ahead."
Then there was Justin Trudeau, Canada's prime minister, who said, "Fidel Castro was a larger than life leader . . . a legendary revolutionary and orator, Mr. Castro made significant improvements to the education and healthcare of his island nation . . . I know my father was very proud to call him a friend . . . on behalf of all Canadians, (my wife) and I offer our deepest condolences to the family, friends and many, many supporters of Mr. Castro. We join the people of Cuba today in mourning the loss of this remarkable leader."
One politician who was not exactly thrilled with the love letter from the Canadian prime minister was the man I wanted to call Mr. President, Marco Rubio, who tweeted, "Is this a real statement or a parody?" Yes, Marco, it does sound a bit like a Lifetime Movie For Women, doesn't it?
Of course, some people recognized the horror of the man. But far too many of our progressive apologists, people who have been marching in the streets because their "safe spaces" have been invaded by the rise of that dictator Donald Trump or who equate the GOP with Nazis and white nationalists decided to focus on the "good" things Castro did, like providing universal health care for his people and a top-notch education system. To which I say, what good is it developing an excellent mind if, when you use it, you end up in prison having your fingernails pulled out one by one? Or, why worry about health care when you're better off getting life insurance to cover your funeral expenses?
It really did blow my mind - a fond reference to the Cuban Missile Crisis - that people would actually find something good to say about this piece of evil incarnate. I suppose I'll be labeled a shallow thinker and someone brainwashed by American propaganda (all that "false news" about those imaginary dissidents dancing on the head of a pin with the angels,) but I don't care. The pope, Jimmah, Justin and all the rest embarrassed themselves with their refusal to call out evil.
Fortunately, we live in a country where you can express idiotic views and not be thrown into jail. This isn't Havana, after all. Of course, President-elect Trump troubled me a little with his deliberately ambiguous yet unnecessarily obtuse tweet about flag burners. You might be saying, "Christine, what the heck does Trump have to do with Fidel?" Patience, amigos.
When Trump suggested that flag burners might be imprisoned or lose their citizenship, I said, "another stupid Teflon tweet." He says the weirdest stuff and still gets to rent the Oval Office. But the idea that Trump would suggest stripping someone of his birthright because he engaged in constitutionally protected activity is, if anything, even more offensive than the bilge from the Castro cultists. I expect a Jesuit Argentine pontiff steeped in the tradition of liberation theology, a failed peanut farmer and a 12-year-old Canadian prime minister to say stupid things. I do not expect (well, I do, but I shouldn't) my next president to mangle the Constitution with a ridiculous comment about political dissent.
And just as I was angered by the people praising Castro, I was equally disgusted with Trump supporters who tried to justify his comments under the "well, he didn't really mean that" standard. Give me a break. He meant it, even if he said it just to deflect attention from other stuff.
To Trump's credit, he also had one of the best reactions to Castro's death, calling him a "brutal dictator who oppressed his own people for nearly six decades" and someone whose "legacy is one of firing squads, theft, unimaginable suffering, poverty, and the denial of fundamental human rights."
That makes the burning flag faux pas excusable. For now.
Christine Flowers is a lawyer