What Joan Didion saw in Miami thirty-five years ago

WLRN’s Tim Padgett wrote a column explaining the prescience of Joan Didion’s best book Miami:

Didion profiled a Cuban exile community frustrated by Washington’s repeated, empty promises to dislodge Fidel Castro — but one that too often lashed out by brutally attacking free speech here if it deemed that civic right an affront to the anti-comunista cause. Or one that regularly apologized for terrorists it considered “freedom fighters,” as then Miami Mayor Xavier Suarez called convicted exile bomber and assassin Eduardo Arocena (who was released from federal prison last summer).

That same violent “cognitive dissonance” (as Didion described Miami’s vibe) was on display when rioters assaulted a U.S. presidential election whose results they deemed an affront to the Trumpista cause.

Who’s in the photo? Why, Luis Posada Carriles. Depending on whom you ask, he’s an “activist” or a terrorist, despite the body of evidence proving the latter. Thanks to the Cuban Adjustment Act, the average Cuban American displayed a commitment to more halfwit ideas that a Rotarian in Idaho would have overheard at a diner. We burgled the Watergate Hotel. We wept when Ronald Reagan visited a mediocre restaurant and, in return, we supported arming the Contras of Nicaraguans with weapons bought by the dough we got from the Iranian mullahs responsible for keeping the hostages in 1979. While Felix Rodriguez and Luis Posada Carriles worked for the moral equivalent of the Founding Fathers, the rest of us slapped “Ollie North For President” bumper stickers on our Buicks.

That’s the Miami in which I grew up.

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