This comes from Father Paul Scalia:
Armando Valladares was initially one of Fidel Castro’s supporters. He even got a job in the Office of the Ministry of Communications for the Revolutionary Government. But in 1960 things changed drastically. It happened that everybody else in his workplace had placed a I’m with Fidel sign on their desks. Doing so wasn’t officially required. But it was, you know, required. Valladares refused. He didn’t condemn or speak out against Castro. He simply declined to display the sign. For that simple refusal, he was sentenced to prison for 30 years. He spent 22 years in the worst conditions until his release and exile in 1982.
I can almost hear the “Yeah, yeah, that’s old news” chorus from the less thoughtful persons in Liberty’s Torch’s readership. And in the naïve sense, it is old news. But let’s read on a bit before we go back to the sports pages:
The story of Valladares comes to mind in the month of June. As the displays at stores, offices, and city hall proclaim, June is “Pride Month,” dedicated to the celebration of the LGBTQ+ community. Of course, people are free to celebrate whatever they want. That’s just a fact in a diverse society. But what happens to those who decline to celebrate Pride Month? Who don’t harbor any ill will but simply view human sexuality differently? Who don’t fly the flag – or put the sign on their desk?
Many of you know the answer to that from your own experience. Many of you have suffered criticism and/or isolation among friends and at work because you don’t celebrate Pride Month, or don’t indicate your preferred pronouns, or don’t display the requisite signage. I’ve heard from many parishioners (and beyond) about the support for Pride Month that isn’t officially required at work. . .but, you know, is required. The intimidation at play indicates that at issue here is not the innocent pride that one might have in one’s children, or country, or a job well done. No, it’s the vicious variety, the pride that demands everyone’s approval.
More relevant than you thought, isn’t it?
I recall an anecdote about the reign of a certain Iosif Vissarionovich Dzughashvili over the now-defunct Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. You may know him better by his assumed “revolutionary” name of Joseph Stalin. Seems he was in the habit of giving speeches to various not-quite-voluntary audiences, stopping at random points in his oration, and watching to spy out anyone who might fail to applaud…or to applaud vigorously enough…or to applaud as long and loud as the rest. Should his eye settle upon such an individual, that unfortunate person’s life would end then and there. Applause to Stalin’s satisfaction wasn’t exactly required…but it was required all the same.
Some wise man whose name I’ve lost has said that if you want to know who rules over you, ask whom you are forbidden to criticize. Today’s regime is even more demanding. You must applaud. You must attend the speeches and wear the pin. You must profess your unconditional devotion — and conspicuously, at that. There will be spot checks of your loyalty, Comrade. Be sure you know what’s expected and demanded of you…even if it isn’t exactly required. But what’s this? Did you fail to put your preferred pronouns in an email again?
But do have a nice day.