It was three o’clock this morning when I was awakened from a beautiful dream by police knocking on the door of my apartment to come down to the parking garage and identify my vandalized car. Downstairs, they had the suspect handcuffed in the back seat of a squad car, one of four parked in the street. Couldn’t see much of him through the window with the flashing lights of the squad cars blinding me but he appeared to be about twenty with long, greasy black hair and wild eyes. He was yelling at everyone and no one and when he began kicking the rear door the police opened it and said a few words of warning that made him stop. I don’t know how the crazy people are differentiated from the allegedly sane people any more but it would be safe to hazard a guess the perpetrator was not all together. Someone among the knot of my neighbors whose car windows had also been smashed in said the man was from Nicaragua, as if that explained anything.
Not being totally altogether myself, it occurred to me as a humorous aside that the assault upon our vehicles was “Nicaragua’s Revenge” for what President Ronald Reagan’s so-called “freedom fighters,” the Contras, had inflicted upon that small country’s leftist Sandanista government for having the temerity to overthrow the Somoza dictatorship in 1979. During his presidency, Reagan was supposed to know nothing of U.S. support for the Contras, who were, in the words of William Blum, author of Rogue State, “burning down schools and medical clinics, raping, torturing, mining harbors, bombing and strafing.” It only leaked out via media reports that a Reagan Fellow, one Oliver North, was masterminding an operation to pass illicit drug money to the Contras. North’s web site for his book American Heroes identifies him as U.S. “counter-terrorism coordinator from 1983-1986, years when Reagan occupied the White House, so there may be something to the media reports. North’s self-styled job description fails to mention the word “Contras” or “Iran-Contra scandal” but that may be because he doesn’t like to brag about his achievements.
Anyway, after providing Miami police information about my glass-filled car, when I got back upstairs to my apartment, the Miami Herald was lying at my door and it was fascinating to see the photo on page 3A of the statue of Reagan that had been unveiled the previous day in Washington. The picture showed his widow Nancy with the palm of her right hand clapped against her cheek and the caption describing her as getting “emotional” at the occasion, as is only proper for a deceased man’s wife. Being a bit hypercritical, though, I thought, here’s the Senate honoring a president that made an end run around the Constitution, as his administration helped rain fire and death down upon the Nicaraguans because he opposed the economic philosophy by which they ran their country. I tried not to think about the emotions of the Contra’s torture victims, maybe because of late I’ve read too many torture stories citing our own CIA and various other personages employed by the U.S. of A. The photograph of the Reagan statue also depicted House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada) standing by and both looking appropriately solemn.
An even more incredible tale appeared under the page one Herald headline: “OAS’ Cuba move touches off outcry.” It began, “Furious members of Congress on Wednesday threatened to cut off funding for the Organization of American States after top diplomats gathered here for its annual assembly repealed Cuba’s suspension from the hemispheric group…” Wow! Here were members of Congress, including Miami Republican Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, vexed because OAS planned to admit Cuba, one of the nastier dictatorships. Ms. Ros-Lehtinen said, “Far from strengthening the OAS, today’s resolution flies in the face of the organization’s founding charter.” Of course, she was right to point out how the high principles of the OAS are being flouted.
This same representative, though, voted to support President Bush’s war against Afghanistan, an act of aggression that trashed the principles of the U.S. Constitution and a variety of international covenants, including the United Nations Charter. Senators Boehner and Reid also voted to support that aggression. And the same woman who rightfully objects to Fidel Castro’s iniquitous doings in Cuba was all for the Bush/Cheney regime turning Iraq into a slaughterhouse where a million people have been killed — so far. Indeed, at one commencement address in Miami (which I was compelled to attend as an employee of the college involved) Ms. Ros-Lehtinen told the audience dramatically that one of her relatives in the military had just been ordered to Iraq. As I recall, in the vast audience there was virtually no applause. The silence spoke volumes.
When I finally crawled back into the sack the sun was rising over the ocean and a faint breeze rustled the tree-top leaves against my window. Of course, I could not sleep. I had seen what appeared to be a demented man arrested for vandalizing automobiles in a country where men esteemed to be mentally fit for the highest office in the land rain death upon other countries and get re-elected by their cheering admirers and never prosecuted. I tried to remember the beautiful dream from which the officers had awakened me, but I could not. Maybe it was the old American Dream of working hard and succeeding, in a land of opportunity and justice, one that is at peace with itself and at peace with the world. I don’t know now. Whatever it was, was lost, but I hope not forever.
Sherwood Ross is a veteran reporter and public relations consultant. He formerly worked for the City News Bureau of Chicago, the Chicago Daily News, and as a columnist for wire [email protected]