A Cuban Southerner's Defense of the South: An Interview with Dr. Miguel A. Faria, Jr. by Myles Kantor

Journal/Website: 
LewRockwell.com
Article Type: 
Interview
Published Date: 
Saturday, January 4, 2003
Source: 
http://www.lewrockwell.com/kantor/kantor77.html

With Trent Lott ready to have burned Robert E. Lee in effigy to stay in office, it’s refreshing to see Southerners like Dr. Miguel A. Faria, Jr. Dr. Faria is the author of Medical Warrior: Fighting Corporate Socialized Medicine, Vandals at the Gates of Medicine, and most recently Cuba in Revolution: Escape From a Lost Paradise. He is also editor of the Medical Sentinel, the journal of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons. All of his books are available through www.haciendapub.com. A retired neurosurgeon, Dr. Faria lives in Macon, Georgia.

Why did you and your family move to the South?

We moved south because it was an excellent opportunity for my father, who had just completed all of his medical re-certification requirements to practice medicine in the U.S. By chance, the best job opportunity offered to him was in Columbia, South Carolina, at the State hospital. Coincidentally, the rest of our family, my mother, sister Mercedes and cousin Clara, had just joined us in the United States. My father told us we needed to relocate from Miami for his new job and, most importantly, to learn to be Americans.

"We needed to never forget our roots," he said. Nevertheless, "we were now to fully learn English and be assimilated into the American way of life!" My father and I had lived in Miami from 1966 to 1968, but that was culturally like living in a liberated Cuba, in "Little Havana." Although Miami is south according to the geographic compass, we were now heading to the real South, to South Carolina, virtually in the Deep South, to begin a new life.

Why did you attend college and medical school in the South?

When we first told our friends in Miami that we would be moving to South Carolina, they could not believe it. Not only were we moving from the center of the Cuban world in exile, the "Little Havana" area, but we were moving to the "boondocks" of the South. They actually feared for our lives because of all the propaganda that Fidel Castro had given to race politics (and riots) in the U.S. After all, we were dark-skinned Cubans, who still did not command the language or the culture of our new country. Who knows what the KKK would do to us after we had left the haven of Miami to move to the "sticks" of South Carolina? After all, this was 1968 and race riots were in full swing.

But the Southern people we were supposed to fear welcomed us with open arms. We were treated very well in Columbia, South Carolina. I attended high school and college (the University of South Carolina, 1970–1973) there. I could have used the newly instituted affirmative action to go to Harvard or any other Ivy League school of my choice in the North. I had the grades and the ethnicity (i.e., Hispanic). Instead, I opted to stay in the South and rejected the use of affirmative action for any special consideration. Likewise in 1974, with excellent grades (magna cum laude) I could have gone to any medical school I wanted. Again, I opted to attend the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston, where I met my beloved wife Helen.

Eventually we moved to Atlanta, Georgia to complete my residency training in neurological surgery at Emory University. We moved to Macon, Georgia because I was needed there as a neurosurgeon and because I felt it was a town that had held onto its southern heritage and traditions. We brought up our family there, our children, Miguel, Elena, and Gabriela. We still love living in that southern town.

You mentioned Castro’s racial propaganda. Would you please elaborate on that?

Castro's speeches and news film clips of U.S. riots showed white policemen attacking black rioters with dogs. This was shown repeatedly on TV and in the movie theaters in between movies and programming.  If my memory serves me correctly, it started soon after the triumph of the Revolution, but escalated as he became more secure in power and felt free to openly display his hatred for the United States. Race relations in the United States were something that Castro exploited to the hilt.

Why do you live in the South today?

We love the South and the southern way of life. People are definitely more hospitable, civil, and polite than in the North. Southerners are still chivalrous toward women, respectful to elders, and nurturing to their children. Fathers still teach their youngsters, both boys and girls, to fish and hunt. Mothers teach their girls proper manners and etiquette.

Southerners will still strike up conversation with strangers and make them friends in parks, restaurants, grocery stores, and at the many outdoor festivities and activities. Honor and duty, like chivalry, scarce commodities elsewhere, are still to be found in the South. Here law-abiding citizens are still widely allowed to exercise their Second Amendment rights, and because of concealed carry laws, the crime rate has been dropping faster than in the rest of the nation.

Incidents like the brutal and tragic case of Kitty Genovese, who was stabbed to death at age 28 in Queens, New York, in front of thirty-seven witnesses, none of whom even tried to help her, don’t occur in the South. You can be sure one of us would have done something although you would not read about it in the mainstream media. Yes, we have crime in the South, but if a damsel is in distress, you can be sure that down here a southern gentleman will still come to her rescue. The South upholds the noblest traditions of these United States: honor, duty, freedom, and country.

Despite the advances of socialism and radical feminism (and the definite feminization of our society), in the South, it is still okay to be a woman and all that entails. It is all right and not insulting for a woman to accept a man’s old-fashioned politeness and his protection, if the situation arises. And yet, Southern women are not helpless. They can be tough when necessary without losing their femininity. It is also all right to be a man, because the warrior spirit survives in Southern men, the spirit to defend wife, family, and hearth.  

What is the importance of Southern thinkers like Jefferson to your worldview?

The importance of Thomas Jefferson’s legacy of freedom, individual rights, state sovereignty (see the forgotten Tenth Amendment to the Constitution), constitutional governance and limited government with the consent of the governed, cannot be overemphasized. That is why many left-wing academicians, such as Conor Cruise O’Brien (who presided over the destruction of Katanga under the auspices of the United Nations in the early 1960s) and other statist, authoritarian, "progressive" educators have tried belatedly to besmirch the reputation of Thomas Jefferson, the sage of Monticello. The freedom tenets upon which Jefferson built our great American republic are a formidable obstacle for would be tyrants and those who want to submerge the sovereignty of these United States to a world government under the United Nations. Jefferson also remains a threat to those ambitious politicians who do not want to be bound down by the chains of the constitution.

You often cite Thomas Jefferson in your writings. Do you see an application for his thought to Cuba?

Cuba would be well served if her future leaders were to possess a Jeffersonian vision for the soon-to-be-free Caribbean nation. I say future leaders because the prospect of Jeffersonian freedom is not possible under the tyrannical rule of Fidel and Raúl Castro. They have too much blood on their hands. And that is why in the concluding chapters of Cuba in Revolution: Escape From a Lost Paradise, I expound on our Founding Fathers’ legacy of freedom based on sound, natural rights theory.

A Jeffersonian vision for Cuba would require that the Cuban people discard the Stalinist constitution of 1976 that oppresses them and subjugates the individual citizen to the State, rather than protect the individual from tyranny. That maleficent "constitution" empowers the State and legalizes despotism and collectivism, rather than protect the civil liberties and individual rights of its citizens.

Rather than enacting the trappings of a collectivist social democracy as in many European nations, the Cuban people should adopt a constitutional republic like these United States. Here is what Jefferson wrote on March 11, 1790: "The republican is the only form of government which is not eternally at open or secret war with the rights of mankind." He was backed by his friend James Madison, who wrote in Federalist Paper No. 10: "Democracies have ever been spectacles of turbulence and contention; have ever been found incompatible with personal security or the rights of property; and have in general been as short in their lives as they have been violent in their deaths."

What advice can Thomas Jefferson give us for a hopefully soon emerging Caribbean nation? In his First Inaugural Address, he said:

"Equal and exact justice to all men, of whatever state or persuasion, religious or political; peace, commerce, and honest friendship with all nations, entangling alliances with none; freedom of religion; freedom of the press, and freedom of person under the protection of the habeas corpus, and trial by juries impartially selected. These principles form the bright constellation which has gone before us and guided our steps through an age of revolution and reformation. The wisdom of our sages and blood of our heroes have been devoted to their attainment."

I can see no better vision for Cuba than a Jeffersonian vision of freedom.

January 4, 2003

Myles Kantor is a columnist for FrontPageMagazine.com and president of the Center for Free Emigration, which agrees with Frederick Douglass that "It is a fundamental truth that every man is the rightful owner of his own body."

Copyright © 2003 LewRockwell.com

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Comments on this post

Dr. Blaylock on Nostalgic days!

Dear Miguel,

Thank you for the kind words. I anxiously look forward to your article "Violence, mental illness, and the brain — A brief history of psychosurgery: Part 3." The series is wonderful so far. The illustrations in all your articles are well done and always enhance them. You mentioned the Editor-in-Chief of SNI, Dr Jim Ausman and his kindness and fantastic job with SNI. I agree. Dr Ausman is indeed a true gentleman and always promotes our work. I told him the story of how we met. I have never met Jim personally, but hope to one day.

I can still remember those days during my residency with such clarity-- you made those difficult days much more enjoyable. Didn't Helen work in medical records at the University then? You were such a breath of fresh air. It seems that everyone I knew either knew nothing of communism or had perverted views of it. You were the first Cuban refugee I had ever met, but I had followed events in Cuba very closely and always had great sympathy for the people of Cuba. They are a noble and honorable people — men of great principles. As always it is sad to see the young Cuban forgetting his heritage and not feeling the sense of connectedness with his countrymen who gave so much for their freedom.

I feel the same sadness when I see our youth anxiously accepting the enticing vapors of collectivism and rejecting the old values and heritage. The old Southern values are dear to my heart and it pains me to see them slowly disappearing. No one seems to care. The other day Diane and I went to a restaurant and I naturally pulled her chair out for her and a young girl said -- "Oh, that is so sweet. I never see anyone do that anymore." All of the courtesies, manners and rules of Southern behavior are rapidly disappearing and you and I know what is being lost. It is ironic that it is the Black community who adheres to these customs more than the whites. They were taught by their grandparents, who unlike in other areas of the country, hold these Southern values in high regard and with utter respect.

Diane and I feel so out of touch with the modern world and want little to do with it. I try to teach our grandchildren the importance of these values, as I did my children. We must preserve the enduring things of life. I know that is what drives you as well. I can feel it in your writing, which is filled with your soul. Your yearning for these values is in everything you write and say.

I remember, when you came to Jackson to speak and hearing some of the doctors remarking that they were somewhat put off by the forcefulness of your remarks. I defended you in no uncertain terms but recently I recalled the event to Diane and I said -- "I wonder what those pompous asses think now. Do they still want to remain aloof?" I met the same response from my colleagues in High Point. I was just too outspoken and aggressive for their urbane taste. They thought I was going overboard and that I was overstating the dangers. I can only wonder at their views now that it has all come about. Now they want to run like rats from a sinking ship and speak of leaving the country. These are people who had no compassion for those, such as you, who had been forced from their country. Now the shoe is on the other foot. It seems strange that we have grown old and life is rapidly ebbing. Yet, as I see our world rapidly disappearing and all that we love and cherish being destroyed, I am less concerned with life. I feel as a stranger in a strange land.

Your friend,

Russell

Dr. Russell L. Blaylock is President of Advanced Nutritional Concepts and Theoretical Neurosciences in Jackson, Mississippi. He is written numerous path-blazing scientific papers and several books, including Excitotoxins, The Taste That Kills (1994) and Bioterrorism: How You Can Survive (2001). He is Associate Editor-in-Chief and a Consulting Editor in Basic Neuroscience of Surgical Neurology International (SNI).

Dr. Faria replies

Dear Russell,

Your last two letters are so poignant and brilliant — literally, superlative banquets for the mind and intellect!

I also remember, Russell, those days in Charleston fondly, when you were chief Resident in Neurosurgery at the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) and I was a senior medical student. I still have delightful conversations with Helen about them. I have even told my kids the stories about those halcyon days in my senior year as medical student and my neurosurgery rotations with you.

I also remember reading Stephen King's masterpiece Salem's Lot, which you and Dianne recommended. When I was on call in the hospital at night that book would scare Helen and she would sleep with her side lamp on. Later, the movie came out as an excellent miniseries. And Yes, Helen worked in Medical records at the Family Practice Center. I learned more neuroscience and neurosurgery from you and our recently deceased friend, the artistic and brilliant scientist, Professor Ludwig Kempe, that I did from any other professor during my externship in neurosurgery at MUSC.

I do remember one unexplainable episode from which I remain embarrassed to this day. Once the Chief of Neurosurgery, Dr. Phanor Perot, asked me about the cerebellar connections and I went blank. You had discussed them previously with me at length so I should have recited the lecture back to him but I didn't. At that terribly critical point I went blank!... but subsequently I developed a life-long interest in the cerebellum and even wrote several papers on the Chiari malformation.

You would be happy to know that during the next year, 1978, I more than made up for the momentary lapse of memory, when I entered the University of Florida for my surgical internship. The fact is read your notes and the books of Sir John Eccles on the cerebellum and learned all there was to known about the mossy fibers, Purkinje cells, and the cerebellar nuclei and their connections to the basal ganglia and cerebral cortex. The momentary lapse of memory with a professor or colleague never once happened again!

...I could not agree more with your astute and insightful assessment about the harmful effects of lack of civility and the strides of collectivism in American society. It is absolutely amazing how two friends born and brought up so far away from each other— one reared in Monroe, Louisiana, in the gallant South; the other in an old Spanish colonial city, Sancti Spiritus, of all places in Cuba, a turbulent island in the Caribbean with such a sad and long history of turmoil and revolutions. These friends, You and I, then in the course of our studies, work, and lives, forged an unbreakable bond of friendship, a friendship that grew stronger, despite time and distance.

We now sadly contemplate the same nostalgic and sad, vanishing spectacle in what seems worlds apart! We both see the same contemptible spectacle of the old and proven ways receding in the wake of those, who subscribing to the "follow your bliss" philosophy, chant for "change," the political slogan in vogue today.

About the South and civility, once again I agree with you. I once gave an interview published by Lew Rockwell about why I lived in the South. It is the article under which we now comment. I expressed similar thoughts, but your last 3 paragraphs I could not have expressed them better. Helen and I also feel as if we were living in a strange land. The country is unrecognizable (for the wort) from the one my father and I arrived in 1966.

And yes I remember some of the doctors' behavior of cowardly "respectability," for which I have lamentably coined the term "puffery," which really evinces a lack of moral courage. Yes, most of them now regret they did not do more to save our profession.

Your friend,

Miguel

What a wonderful compliment!

What a wonderful compliment for Dr. Faria.

He is truly an inspiration with his knowledge of living in a country under 'control'.

He has written so much attempting to teach others what 'we are currently facing' in our own country.

I can only imagine what Dr. Faria experienced and found in his 'own strange land' when he came to America.

But he embraced America, fell in love with the U.S., and I just wish that 53% of this country could also find it in them:

"That same love for our wonderful country — America"!

You made my day!!

Dear uneed,

What a pleasant, no, wonderful surprise! We have missed chatting with you. I was just preparing a reply to Dr. Blaylock when your post came through and made my day!

I hope you have liked my Psychosurgery series. I suspect Dr. Blaylock is reading part 3 and is composing a critique, even as a I write this reply to you. He and I have had a fascinating conversation going for the last three weeks or so, and hopefully we will continue this symposium.

Thank you for your own accolades to me; they mean a lot coming from someone so politically keen and well-informed as you and who I admire and consider one of my closest friend.

A warm hug,

Dr. Miguel Faria

I've read this article before

I've read this article before on Your Love for the South. But I 'always' enjoy reading and hearing it again.

I wouldn't want to live anywhere else in all honesty. I am truly southern to the core. . I have always felt the South is more hospitable and truly cares. And your family is a great example of taking your roots and values you were taught as a child and just falling right into being southern.

I also believe people from the south are more passionate about their country and families as a whole. And I believe that's because the South has endured so much.

I'm thankful your father decided to reside in the South;and he was so right never forget your roots. I believe all people should always embrace their roots. Our roots and experience in life is what makes us who we are. Southern!

A great article.

Thanks!

Dear uneed,

I thank you for your kind words. Generally, the bad things are shared by North and South, but the best of the United States today is incarnated in the South – e.g., patriotism, gallantry, courtesy, hospitality, sincerity, kindness, and charity (see my comments elsewhere* on the statistical comparison in philanthropy and giving to those in need in the last several years) – MAF.

* Altruism or hypocrisy – Part 1:
http://www.haciendapub.com/medicalsentinel/misguided-philosophies#commen...

Charity – Part 2:
http://www.haciendapub.com/medicalsentinel/perquisites#comment-394