President Obama on Monday made perhaps his most ostentatious show of moral relativism in a presidency long marked by it, inviting Cuban tyrant Raul Castro to lecture Americans about human rights.
Castro, as Cuba’s defense minister beginning in 1959 and then dictator after his brother Fidel stepped down in 2006, is responsible for untold numbers of dead, tortured, maimed, and impoverished Cubans, not to mention the subjugation of the nation under his and his brother’s rule.
But according to Obama, who appeared with him at a press conference in Havana, Raul Castro has something to teach us.
“President Castro has also addressed what he views as shortcomings in the United States around basic needs for people — in poverty in inequality, and race relations,” Obama said. “And we welcome that constructive dialogue as well, because we believe that when we share our deepest beliefs and ideas with an attitude of mutual respect, that we can both learn and make the lives of our people better.”
Obama later added: “I actually welcome President Castro commenting on some of the areas where he feels that we’re falling short, because I think that we should not be immune or afraid of criticism or discussion as well.”
Obama accepted the standard communist rationale for totalitarianism, that it brings “security” in the form of health care and education. The former is necessary to keep the subjects alive and serving the state, the latter to teach them to obey communism.
“President Castro, I think, has pointed out that, in his view, making sure that everybody’s getting a decent education, or health care, has basic security in old age — that those things are human rights as well,” Obama said. “I personally would not disagree with him … The United State recognizes progress Cuba has made as a nation — its enormous achievements in education, in health care.”
Obama has been flying the moral relativism flag since the first year of his presidency, when during a news conference in Strasbourg, France, he contradicted himself by preaching American exceptionalism while suggesting it was something relative.
“I believe in American exceptionalism, just as I suspect that the Brits believe in British exceptionalism and the Greeks believe in Greek exceptionalism,” he said then.
He went on eventually to compare ISIS to the Christian crusaders. Actions like his evenhanded treatment of the Israelis and the Arabs and his willingness to trust the Iranians with a nuclear deal point to a relativist’s inability to perceive the contrast between good and evil.
Obama told Castro the United States will continue to express its views on human rights to the Cubans “as we do wherever we go, around the world,” suggesting that it’s just what Americans do and not something Cuba’s leaders should be particularly upset about. And human rights does not have “to be the only issue we talk about.”
In fact, Cuba is capable of — and has been invited to — a “human rights dialogue” with the United States in which “hopefully we can learn from each other.”
Because we just look at things a little different from each other, that’s all. Nobody’s better, and nobody’s worse.
“The starting point is that we have two different systems,” Obama said. “Two different systems of government, two different economies.” With their different approaches, Obama suggested, the United States and Cuba could cooperate on human rights issues having to do with drugs and human trafficking.
As Obama finished speaking, Castro seized the moment to undermine every argument he had made, angrily denying that there were any political prisoners in Cuba.
“If there are political prisoners, give me a list, right now,” Castro demanded. “What political prisoners? Give me their names, and if there are political prisoners, they will be free by tonight.”
A version of this piece appears on LifeZette.