In Cuba, in Hong Kong | National Review

In Cuba, in Hong Kong | National Review

People gather in front of police during protests in Havana, Cuba, July 11, 2021. (Alexandre Meneghini / Reuters)

Today’s Impromptus, I begin with golf — well, with something larger than golf. This is what I mean:

Collin Morikawa is an utterly winning guy (in more than one sense). He has just won the British Open. And he is heading to the Olympics, to represent his country, namely the United States. A kid named Morikawa representing the Stars and Stripes in Japan. This is one thing I love about America, one thing I believe makes the country great.

I also have notes about Cuba, Russia, Israel, and more.

Concerning Cuba, there have been three central myths: that the dictatorship has been good for literacy; that it has been good for health care; and that it has been good for Afro-Cubans. I and others have written about these myths in exhaustive detail. About the racial one, I think I first wrote in 2000: “In Castro’s Corner: A story of black and red.” Since that time, I have discussed the issue with many, many dissidents.

Afro-Cubans have long been prominent in the opposition movement. I make this point in Impromptus today. After I finished my column, I noticed an article in the Washington Post, which I would like to share: “‘A powder keg about to explode’: Long marginalized Afro Cubans at forefront of island’s unrest.”

Turn now to Hong Kong, about which I had a piece yesterday. Here in the Corner, I would like to call attention to this news: “Publishers brace for police peril at Hong Kong Book Fair.” The subheading of the article is “Exhibitors avoid ‘sensitive’ titles as organizer warns on security law violations.” Sure.

Over and over again, I have cited the 2002 essay by Perry Link: “The Anaconda in the Chandelier.” It is about how censorship works in China (and other “fear societies” as well). (I have borrowed a phrase from Natan Sharansky.) The state does not tell you where the line is — the line that you may not cross. It makes you wonder. And you tip-toe around, self-censoring, lest you cross this (invisible) line.

All right, let me quote from the report out of Hong Kong, about the book fair:

“I have never seen all the exhibitors exercising such a high level of self-censorship before,” Pang, a veteran publisher who has joined the fair every year since its debut in 1990, told Nikkei Asia. “Under the national security law, we do not know where the line is anymore. So, we would rather not sell any books that may bring us trouble.”

Exactly. That’s how they do it. Just as Professor Link explained, unforgettably.

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About the Author

Tony Beasley
Tony Beasley writes for the Local News, US and the World Section of ANH.