Politically non-affiliated? Really?

16 04 2010

It seems a lot of people have things to say about Gloria and Emilio Estefan’s hosting Barack Obama and a fundraiser for the Democratic National Committee. I figure I’ll put my two cents here.

Local media insist on focusing on some Cuban exiles’ feeling like hosting Obama is a betrayal by “Miami’s First Family.” Media also insist that those on the “other side” see this as an opportunity to “get Obama’s ear” and educate Obama on Cuba policy and human rights issues.

Who knows? Maybe most people really do stand in one of those two camps. But if that’s the case, I see delusion and misguided energy on both sides.

On the one hand, it’s unrealistic to expect that the Estefans wouldn’t be attracted to Obama (their relationship with him isn’t new) and perhaps some other Democrats. They run in liberal circles, as most artists do, and what they believe—it goes without saying—is up to them. It would be unfair to ask that they not contribute their time and money wherever they think it will do the most good.

On the other, it’s also borderline silly to believe that the Estefans are going to give Obama much of an “education” on human rights in Cuba. I’m no White House expert, but I’m willing to bet that at some point in the last few weeks, POTUS has been briefed on what’s going on in Cuba with Zapata Tamayo, Guillermo “Coco” Fariñas, Las Dama de Blanco, etc.

At the very least he’s picked up a newspaper or turned on his T.V., don’t you think?

That’s part of why I couldn’t help but laugh when I came across this photo on Gloria Estefan’s official Facebook fan page.

Are we supposed to believe this scenario—Obama hunched over some large photographs of the Ladies in White being beaten up and dragged onto government buses during a peaceful demonstration—was anything other than an awkward photo op? Or is it more likely that he’s seen the photos plenty of times, for instance, right around the time he said all this stuff?

If you ask me, it’s all a political show. And you know what? If the Estefans want to do good (or at least try) in the political arena, then who is anyone to tell them not to just because their politics don’t fall perfectly into line with… whoever’s?

What’s disappointing to me is that, just when Gloria Estefan was really taking a concrete leadership role in this community that transcended partisan politics, she and Emilio decided to host the most partisan kind of event: a DNC fundraiser. The DNC, like the RNC, represents too diverse a selection of politicians (about half of them) to also represent anything you could reasonably refer to as a cause.

It would be different if they’d gone and identified a bunch of Democrats whose ideals and policies reflected their own views. But a fundraiser for the party itself makes their efforts seem blind, irresponsible, and misguided at best. At worst, it makes them seem like staunchly partisan lackeys.

In her introductory remarks at yesterday’s fundraiser, Gloria Estefan said this:

The beauty of this amazing nation is that anything is possible! Even hosting a very political evening to get the “ear” of my President when I am politically non-affiliated but the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. put it succinctly when he said “We may have all come on different ships but we’re in the same boat now!”

When I think of “anything being possible” in America, being able to talk to the president because he asked me to raise his political party a bunch of money isn’t exactly what comes to mind. And “politically non-affiliated”? Really? Again, I’m no political analyst, but unless you also host an RNC fundraiser, organizing a DNC one is about as politically affiliated as you can get.

We should all defend the Estefans’ right to put their money and their time wherever they want. But no matter where you stand on domestic politics, it’s pretty clear they’ve chosen to put that time and money in the most divisive place possible. That’s not the sort of thinking that’ll make people want them leading the Cuban exile community in any more marches.

Gloria Estefan’s introduction to President Obama below the fold.

Introduction to President Obama
By Gloria Estefan

Welcome everyone to our home! Emilio, Emily and I are very happy that you’re here and we hope you very much enjoy this afternoon!

When our parents brought us to the United States as children they never imagined that the country that had opened its arms to them at a time of crisis would eventually become their country and in turn, our country. They came here to raise us in freedom and democracy so that we could thrive and learn. And that we did. We learned how to listen to and respect different ways of thinking, different nationalities, and different political ideologies.
We learned, as we watched our parents give up their homeland, their families, their history and in the case of my father who served proudly in the United States military, his life so that we could live the American Dream.

My father, a refugee from a country that is still in the stranglehold of the same oppressive government from which he rescued his family, my father, who when leaving for war said to my mother not knowing if he would ever see us again, that in a man’s life there has to be “something” that is worth fighting and dying for and for him that cause was freedom! My father, who would have been very proud to know that his little girl, years later, would be hosting in her very own home, the President of the United States, a President who just 21 days before publicly stated, “Today, I join my voice with brave individuals across Cuba and a growing chorus around the world in calling for an end to the repression, for the immediate, unconditional release of all political prisoners in Cuba and for respect for the basic rights of the Cuban people.”, the President that is the very first African-American in history to attain this most honorable office!

Each person believes that they are living in the “best of times” and in the “worst of times”. We look around at the difficulties and challenges that our world is experiencing and we wonder (I know I do) if history has taught us “anything”. We question if there is indeed “something” still worth fighting and dying for.

Then I look at the country where I was born, a place where hope and freedom are a part of their history, not their everyday lives and I see Orlando Zapata Tamayo, a Cuban dissident and now MARTYR who gave his life on a hunger strike for the promise of a free Cuba and Guillermo Fariñas who is poised to give his life at any moment merely asking that his government free 26 other sick and dying prisoners of conscience. I see the bravery of the Damas De Blanco; women who walk peacefully, silently, heroically, yet still get beaten and arrested for simply petitioning for the freedom of their unjustly imprisoned loved ones.

I look at this magnificent country that has molded me and is now my homeland and I hear a choir of voices expressing their wishes, their desires, their demands and even their disdain for our government, freely and without consequence and I smile and quietly thank God that despite whatever problems we may be facing, we truly are a free people!

The beauty of this amazing nation is that anything is possible! Even hosting a very political evening to get the “ear” of my President when I am politically non-affiliated but the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. put it succinctly when he said “We may have all come on different ships but we’re in the same boat now!”

And regardless of where we may have come from, what color we may be, what political party we may or may not belong to I think there are definitely two things that we can all agree on; the first is that we all love this country and the second was beautifully put into words by Dr. Lawrence J. Peter, an American educator and writer, when he said,

“Democracy is a process by which the people are free to choose the man who will get the blame.” And it is my distinct honor to introduce him! Ladies and gentlemen, from one hyphenated American, I present to you, another hyphenated American, The President of the United States, Barack Obama!!




One response

27 09 2010

necesidad de comprobar:)

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