That’s when Fidel Castro received a fawning invitation from Harvard Law School asking the honor of his addressing them. Seems that both the student body and faculty were smitten with the Cuban Revolution’s shining judicial record. Castro accepted on the spot, making Harvard the last gig on his 1959 U.S. tour.
“Castro Visit Triumphant!” headlined Harvard’s Law School Forum for April 30, 1959. “The audience got what it wanted: the chance of seeing the Cuban hero [italics mine] in person!”
“Viva Fidel!” roared these fervent foes of capital punishment and double jeopardy upon first glimpsing their hero. Though the adoring crowd was too enormous to fit in any campus arena they remained chipper, “even if we didn’t see Castro at as close a range as might have been desired,” an attendee was quoted as saying.
Interestingly, Fidel Castro had actually applied to Harvard Law School in 1948. This was brought to light by Harvard’s Arts and Sciences Dean, McGeorge Bundy, (later to serve as JFK’s national security advisor). “Caught up in the exuberance of the event,” continues the Harvard Law Forum, “Harvard Dean, McGeorge Bundy, declared that Harvard was ready to make amends for its mistake in 1948. ‘I’ve decided to admit him!’ declared Dean Bundy.”
“Viva Fidel!” The Dean’s quip brought the house down and shook the very roof. “Viva Fidel!” roared and cheered the cream of America’s law students (and their faculty)
Alas, given the law of averages, an independent thinker was bound to pop up — even among ten thousand Harvard students and faculty. One such wiseacre brought up the questionable legal procedures preceding those hundreds of executions in Cuba.
“If the defendant has a right to appeal,” answered Castro, “then so do the people! And don’t forget, Cuba’s is the only people’s revolution in Latin America!”
Well, this assembly of America’s most nimble verbal gladiators went absolutely wild over Castro’s brilliant riposte. They erupted again, roaring and whooping at the mass-murderer’s incontestable rejoinder. This creme de la creme of America’s most cunning ratiocinators found the Stalinist’s logic not only perfectly airtight but positively dazzling in its ingenuity and completely sound in its principle of justice. A delirious pandemonium swept the hall as America’s most ingenious and best-tutored law students (along with their tutors) went absolutely berserk with veneration and joy at this point-blank elucidation of Castroite justice.
Similar receptions had come at the National Press Club, Overseas Press Club, United Nations, and on Meet the Press.
Not one heckler from among America’s brightest and cheekiest college kids. Not one rebuttal from America’s biggest assemblies of its top journalists. Not one snigger or frown from the top cut of America’s adversarial press. Not one raised eyebrow from the nation’s most hard-boiled investigative reporters.
So let’s be fair: why pick on Sean Penn?
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