Daddy’s a Tyrant

A young woman accuses her father of being a tyrant. She wears clothes he disapproves of. She even rejects her father's last name. But this is not a rebellious American teenager. No, it's the 34-year-old daughter of Cuban dictator Fidel Castro. She likes to wear a T-shirt with an American flag emblazoned across the front. Her name is Alina Fernandez Revuelta. Cuba is a country where political dissent is a crime, punishable by prison. Yet lately Alina has taken to criticizing her father publicly. "I used to believe in socialism when I was very little," Alina says. "But now Cuban socialism is a dead-end street." Castro has responded to his daughter's charges by bugging her apartment and assigning secret police agents to trail her. She says she'd like to leave Cuba. But think for a moment what she would find if she ever came to the United States: She'd find politicians and academics who want this country to embrace the same statist mentality that has ruined Cuba-the mentality that looks to government to control every aspect of life. The difference is that in today's political climate these people aren't called revolutionaries. All across the globe people are shying away from terms like communist, socialist, and even liberal. Yet the same statist mentality is alive and well. We see it when a Republican president presides over the largest increase ever in government spending and regulation. We see it when Democrats live up to their reputation as tax-and-spend liberals. We see it in the knee-jerk reaction many of us have whenever something goes wrong: The government ought to do something, we say. There ought to be a law. But wherever statism flourishes it leads to bureaucracy and the decline of private initiative-just as it has in Cuba. No wonder the Bible teaches that government ought to be limited. Its role is not to control the private sphere but to maintain public order so the private sphere can flourish. The protection of the state is meant to allow families, churches, and businesses to fulfill their own God-given roles. Theologian R.C. Sproul says he once asked Francis Schaeffer what was his "greatest concern for the future of America." Without hesitation, Schaeffer replied: "Statism"-the threat of an ever-expanding state. The growth of statism is often deceptively slow: a new regulation here, a new restriction there. That's why one Frenchman says, "the face of tyranny is always mild at first." Think of Alina Revuelta, who got her first glance at tyranny as a young girl, looking up into the face of her father, Fidel Castro. It must have seemed like such a kind, fatherly face. But today she knows better. Today she bluntly calls Castro a tyrant. So the next time you hear government touted as the solution to every problem, remember Alina. Behind the mask of mildness there may be the hidden face of tyranny.


Chuck Colson


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