Cuba retaliated for the U.S. diplomatic mission's Christmas display supporting Cuban dissidents by putting up a billboard Friday emblazoned with photographs of American soldiers abusing Iraqi prisoners and a huge swastika overlaid with a "Made in the U.S.A" stamp.
Wow. A Nazi reference. Haven't heard that one before.
Sadly, what a former US consular head said when questioned over the tit-for-tat signs following our sign of "75" to call attention to 75 Cubans recently arrested is nothing we haven't heard before either:
Wayne Smith, who headed the U.S. mission here during the Carter and Reagan administrations and has long advocated restoring normal diplomatic relations with Cuba, said he thought the images of prisoner abuse in Iraq were an appropriate response by Castro's regime.
"If I were in their shoes, this is what I would do — call attention to the fact that the United States is now guilty of torture, of massive violations of human rights," Smith said by telephone from Washington.
"Yes, I'd like to see the 75 all released, but we're in no position now to criticize anyone," he said.
But the billboard's Nazi reference went too far, Smith added.
Smith thinks we are guilty of massive human rights violations and that we are basically equivalent. Unfreakingbelievable. President Reagan apparently made a mistake holding him over.
These are sad days when I take some comfort from the fact that he thinks the Nazi reference went too far. You take what you can get from some quarters.