[Marxism] LA TIMES bash-o-rama: 'Milk' star Sean Penn: Pal of anti-gay dictators?

Walter Lippmann walterlx at earthlink.net
Sun Dec 14 07:32:52 MST 2008

I have long criticized the Cuban regime for banning independent
gay/lez organizations and publications. Does Walter still explain the
lack of gay publications (as he has to me in the past) to an alleged
lack of paper? I rather suspect that, except for the Roman Catholic
Church and maybe some Santeria expressions, independent
self-organization is not tolerated by the Cuban one-party state.

As usual, David Thorstad leaps to condemn the Cuban government while
refusing to acknowledge that Cuba is a blockaded country whose main
opponent, the United States government, works actively to encourage
the fabrication through financing and political direction of groups
opposed to the Cuban government and the social system which Cuba's
government defends. Washington budgets tens of millions of dollars
for this purpose, as anyone who is interested in the facts can see
for themselves at the US government website devoted to the project:
http://www.cafc.gov That is the principal reason why some forms of
"independent self-organization are not permitted. 

While I wish Cuba's political system were more open to a wider range
of discussion, so long as the country remains blockaded, this will
not be easily achieved. 

Lack of paper is not the reason "independent self-organization is not
tolerated by the Cuban one-party state." No such claim has ever been
made by me. Thorstad invented that allegation.

Many forms of "independent self-organization" exist in Cuba. I could
name hundreds if I had the time, but independent political parties
and such organizations are not permitted. Everything from Alcoholics
Anonymous to Theosophy to Islam and the Bahai'i faith are all active
in Cuba today. I've been to the offices of some of these groups and
so I know what I'm speaking about. I'm sorry I haven't time to scan
the pages of the Havana phone book to document this, but I don't 
have the time now. Anyone who actually goes to Cuba and looks for
the facts can find them. Thorstad isn't interested in the facts as
he is a relentless opponent of the Cuban Revolution for whom there
is nothing he cannot find to attack.

That being said, there are limits to democratic rights and expression
in Cuba, as I have explained repeatedly over the years, including on
organized self-expression among gays. As long ago as 2000, in the
first extended commentary I wrote, I made that point explicitly:

It's also too bad David Thorstad hasn't had a chance to look at the
beautiful book by Babak Salari which features portraits of nearly
one hundred well-known Cuban lesbians, gays and transgenders which
was publicly exhibited and which can be purchased from the Canadian
publisher.  it's FACES, BODIES, PERSONAS; Tracing Cuban Stories
by Babak Salari with a text by Norge Esponosa Mendoza. Google the
name of Norge Espinoza Mendoza and you'll find a range of remarkable
images and stories. I'll say no more about that for the time being.

MILK is a terrific movie made by Sean Penn and others which should
be widely viewed. I saw it on Friday and was delighted at the way
it recreated that period of history. I was active in the campaign
against Proposition 6, the anti-gay initiative sparked by Orange
County Senator Briggs, and backed by the likes of orange juice
bigot Anita Bryant. It was roundly defeated after a spirited and
politically broad campaign. We should have had such a movement
and struggle to defeat the recent anti-gay effort, Proposition 8.

John Lacny's comment that THE ADVOCATE's attack on Sean Penn may
well be linked to its unflattering portrayal of THE ADVOCATE's
editor-publisher, David Goodstein, seems not unreasonable to me.
None of the recent anti-Penn commentaries mention that Penn also
played a role in the awful anti-Cuba film BEFORE NIGHT FALLS.

The propaganda war against Cuba continues relentlessly, paying
no mind at all to the actual facts about the legal status and
living conditions of sexual minorities in Cuba. David Thorstad
has carved out a minor supporting role for himself in this war.
It's so boringly repetitive and tiresome.

Those who are interested in the facts can and find them here:

Walter Lippmann
Los Angeles, California

     Los Angeles, California
     Editor-in-Chief, CubaNews
     "Cuba - Un Paraíso bajo el bloqueo"

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