The outpouring of sentiment about Fidel Castro from the political Left in the UK and around the world has been much criticised, as it has often either failed to mention his horrific human rights abuses, or sought to minimise them.
Realising how open to ridicule this position has become, as the hashtag TrudeauEulogies trended on Twitter in honour of the statement of Justin Trudeau, many on the Left instead made the comparison between the eulogies for King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia and the condemnation of Fidel Castro.
So we can ignore Castro’s murder of his own citizens in his zeal to cling to power, simply because there are other evil people with whom we are allied?
I didn’t hear the Left ignoring the crimes of Augustin Pinochet simply because he happened to bring economic improvements to Chile. Why should the Right ignore the hypocrisy of the Left simply to avoid shining a torch on its own hypocrisy.
The Left does like to virtue signal, to suggest that it has a greater observance of Human Rights than the Right does. To suggest that it is more committed to Social Justice than the Right is. To suggest that it is more Moral.
The most brutal murderers of the 20th Century – Josef Stalin, Mao Tse Tung, Ho Chi Minh, Pol Pot – were all of the Left. They were all held up at one time or other as examples to be followed by those on the Left.
Brutality exists on both the Extreme Right and the Extreme Left. Though there are more examples of extremism on the Left.
As it happens, I know the regime in Saudi Arabia is an abomination, which most Tories I know believe is doomed to be overthrown – though that revolution is something we should all fear, given what will no doubt replace it. There were a number of articles in the Right wing press when King Abdullah died suggesting that it was high time for a reassessment of our relationship with the Kingdom.
Unfortunately, because of the presence of oil, and because of their adherence to the Wahaabist death cult, we need a good relationship with the Government of Saudi Arabia. They are a critical partner in our foreign policy strategy; they are vital to our security apparatus; and they have the very real ability to cripple our economy by turning off the pumps.
That doesn’t mean that we can ignore the human rights abuses – indeed it may be that by being close partners, we are better placed to influence the Kingdom in private than those who forever scream from the outside. It was, for instance, that close relationship with the Republic of South Africa that led directly to F W de Klerk realising that apartheid must not and could not continue, as Nelson Mandela himself acknowledged. It was that close relationship that allowed Margaret Thatcher to persuade the South Africans to release Mr Mandela from jail.
I find it interesting that those who put forward the idea that we shouldn’t insist that Castro’s faults are considered as part of his legacy suggest that this is because others are worse. To suggest that we cannot consider Mr Castro’s barbarism because others are also barbarous is, to my mind, a rather elastic view of the world.