I want to follow up on my post on Cuban participation in the World Baseball Classic.
Comment no. 9 to that post makes a number of good points with respect to baseball in Cuba. I also recommend Jack’s comment at no. 7. I am not going to respond further in the comments to that post, which are now closed. But on the commenter’s specific point regarding the views of the Cuban exile community and their influence, two responses: First, no one–certainly not a devoted pluralist like me–would ever “villify” any group of citizens for expressing their views with respect to policy. At the same time, I object to any one organized group dominating policy at the expense of broader interests that may not be so organized or vocal or passionate–dominance by such special interests violates my pluralist-democratic sensibilities even more.
The remark at comment #9–”I donâ€™t see how you can discount those 1.2 million opinions to play a ballgame”–is quite telling. This suggests that engagement with Cuba’s own 11.2 million should be determined by the 1.2 million exiles and desendants of exiles living here–actually, by far less than that, for the anti-engagement organizations (and bloggers) by no means speak for the entire Cuban-American community. Opinion research has shown that the Cuban-Ameircan community is far more diverse in its views that it is sometimes portrayed by those with an interest in keeping the debate polarized. (That last statement is pretty much true as a general rule, and not only with respect to US-Cuba relations.
Rather than imply, as does the commenter, that the views of one group with a a special interest are being â€œdiscountedâ€ in order to â€œplay a ballgame,â€ I would ask why the broader interest of introducing Cuban players to the American public and promoting sporting and other exchanges between people should be held hostage to a minority of American citizens who happen to have a passionate view that goes against the very principle of exchaning ideas and experiences. Such exchanges are, after all, at the heart of the American ideal of pluralism and freedom. These ideals have largely guided our policies towards virtually every other totalitarian regime. This is not an argument about the nature of that regime. We know what it is. It is an argument about how best to prepare the groundwork for the post-totalitarian era: Engagement or embargo. For all but a vocal minority, the answer is clear: engagement.
I am going to end this with something that I just happened to read in the LA Times this morning, that is quite timely in light of this discussion, but is not about baseball. It is about the feckless nature of the US governmentâ€™s TV and Radio Marti programming, and the use of mltary aircraft to try to defeat Casro’s jamming of program content that evidence suggests hardly anyone in Cuba is interested in anyway. (I would conclude that TV and Radio Mari are little more than a political sop to the anti-Castro forces in this country.) The best part of the article, in my opinion, is the last paragraph, which contains a quote from Senator Max Baucus:
The federal government keeps spending millions in tax dollars and precious military assets to unjam TV Marti… There’s a better way to bring the message of democracy to Cuba: Lift the travel ban and let the American people share about the benefits of freedom face to face.
Indeed. And also: