The Fresno Grizzlies, a farm team of the Washington Nationals baseball team, are in hot water. At a Memorial Day game, the team showed an annual Cold War-era tribute video by Ronald Reagan that extolled the U.S. military and its foreign wars, including the Vietnam War, which, the film said, defended our freedoms here at home. The film also featured a picture of former Cuban dictator Fidel Castro, who was identified as an “enemy of freedom.”
But it’s clear that someone has edited and updated the film because in addition to Castro, the pictures of post-Cold War “enemies of freedom” are shown. These include photographs of a member of Antifa, the militant left-wing anti-fascist group, Kim Jong-Un, the communist dictator of North Korea, with whom, ironically, President Trump has fallen in love … and … self-described socialist Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
Ocasio-Cortez? An enemy of freedom? Just like Castro and Kim Jong-Un? What’s she doing in Congress? She is obviously a no-good commie. Lock her up!
Needless to say, Ocasio-Cortez was not amused by the video. She tweeted out a message indicating that whenever people post this sort of thing, she is hit with assassination threats.
Thomas Boswell, the longtime sports writer for the Washington Post, was among many commentators who blasted the Grizzlies for including Ocasio-Cortez in the video as an “enemy of freedom.” He called on the Grizzlies and the Nats to investigate who the malefactor was and to fire him or her immediately. Boswell wrote,
The point is not the specifics of Ocasio-Cortez’s political or economic views. It is her absolute right, under our Constitution, to hold them, fight for them and be elected to Congress to champion them. And just like any other person who holds views at the poles of our political spectrum, she should not be called “an enemy of freedom.” Those are fighting, even killing, words….
For decades, the political right has tried to appropriate every symbol of America, patriotism, freedom and democracy as its property. Even apple pie and baseball. That’s not illegal. It’s politics. The left tugged back — mostly ineffectively.
It’s the next step that is so pernicious. Once wrapped in the flag, one political party can pose as the only authentic valid party, and those who disagree with them suddenly become “enemies” of freedom or “the people” or even enemies of God as viewed through a politicized theology. Examples are available worldwide.
Boswell’s point, however, applies not just to Ocasio-Cortez. The question arises: What about the entire anti-communist, anti-socialist mentality that the U.S. national-security establishment (i.e., the Pentagon, the CIA, the NSA, and the FBI) used to justify the entire Cold War, including its assassinations, coups, invasions, interventions (e.g., the Vietnam War), wars of aggression, alliances with dictatorial regimes, secret surveillance, ruination of people (“Are you now or have you ever been a member of the Communist Party?”), and, of course, ever-increasing budgets for the national-security establishment and its ever-growing army of “defense” contractors?
Why shouldn’t the right of Ocasio-Cortez to be a socialist or even a communist extend to everyone in the world, without being exterminated for it by the U.S. national-security establishment? Why was the Cold War even necessary? Why couldn’t the United States and the Soviet Union and the rest of communist world have lived in peaceful mutual coexistence despite their differing ideologies, a goal set forth by President Kennedy in his famous and remarkable Peace Speech at American University a few months before he himself was assassinated? Indeed, why can’t that be the case today with Russia, China, Iran, Venezuela, North Korea, and other nations?
Consider Ocasio-Cortez’s concern about the death threats that she receives for her socialist views. Those were also the concerns that Cuban leader Fidel Castro experienced. And it wasn’t that Castro was experiencing unreasonable paranoia. The CIA was in fact trying to assassinate him because both the CIA and the Pentagon considered him to be an “enemy of freedom.” In fact, the CIA even entered into a partnership with the Mafia, the premier criminal organization in the world, to assassinate Castro.
Given that it would be morally wrong and also a criminal offense for anyone to assassinate Ocasio-Cortez as an “enemy of freedom,” why wasn’t it morally wrong and a criminal offense to try to assassinate Castro as an “enemy of freedom”? Don’t forget, after all, that despite all the Cold War hoopla about Cuba being “a communist dagger pointed at America’s throat from only 90 miles away,” Cuba never attacked or invaded the United States or even threatened to do so. Under what moral or legal justification could his murder at the hands of CIA-Mafia assassins be justified? Simply because he was a socialist? A communist? A foreign dictator, one who refused to kowtow to the U.S. government?
Indeed, why wasn’t it morally wrong and a criminal offense for the CIA to conspire to assassinate Congo leader Patrice Lumumba or Chilean Army Commander Rene Schneider? Why wasn’t it morally wrong and a criminal offense for the CIA to assassinate American citizens Anwar Al-Awlaki and his 16-year-son Abdulrahman? Why isn’t it morally wrong and a criminal offense for the Pentagon and the CIA to be assassinating countless “terrorists” today who the Pentagon and the CIA have deemed to be “enemies of freedom”?
Where is the grant in the U.S. Constitution to carry out such murders? How is it that the Pentagon and the CIA are empowered to ignore the Fifth Amendment, which expressly prohibits the federal government from killing anyone, citizen or non-citizen, without due process of law? How can people be considered free when an entire branch of their government can ignore their Constitution with impunity? How can any people be considered genuinely free when their government wields the omnipotent, totalitarian power to assassinate them?
Americans can recognize the evil nature of assassinations when they are carried out by foreign regimes, such as the Saudi assassination of Jamal Khashoggi or the North Korean assassination of Kim Jong-Nam, the half-brother of Kim Jong-Un. But when it comes to assassinations carried out by the Pentagon and the CIA, unfortunately the mindsets of some Americans suddenly change. Their mindset becomes: assassinations are bad unless the assassins have an American flag on their sleeves and are killing people they designate as “enemies of freedom.”
The Fresno Grizzlies controversy over Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez should cause us to reflect on much more than just a baseball team’s including a member of Congress as an “enemy of freedom” in a Memorial Day video. It should also cause us to reflect on how the U.S. national-security establishment, as a totalitarian governmental structure with the power to assassinate “enemies of freedom,” has itself become an enemy of morality, law, and freedom here at home.