The plátano doesn’t rot far from the tree.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) may have built himself a reputation for being the junkyard dog of the far-right in Congress, but the stuff Papa Cruz has been going around spewing makes Teddy look like a RINO.

Rafael Cruz is Sen. Cruz’s Cuban-born father who fought on the Castro side during the Cuban Revolution. “He was a guerrilla,” Cruz has said of his father, “throwing Molotov cocktails and blowing up buildings.” When the elder Cruz was finally captured and imprisoned by the Batista regime, he was released with a bribe. He’d go on to regret supporting the Castro movement after Fidel took power and began promoting Marxism.

Now the 74-year-old Cruz tours his adopted country promoting a born-again, right-wing libertarian agenda and his firebrand of a son.

In late October Mother Jones reported just a couple instances — YouTubed, of course — in which Papa Cruz revealed where his son’s hardline views may originate. Stumping for his then-Senate candidate son in September 2012, Cruz Sr. told the North Texas Tea Party:

We need to send Barack Obama back to Chicago. I’d like to send him back to Kenya, back to Indonesia. … We have to unmask this man. This is a man that seeks to destroy all concept of God. And I will tell you what, this is classical Marxist philosophy.

Pastor Cruz, as he likes to be called, spoke at a gathering in Hood County, Texas where he proclaimed America a “Judeo-Christian nation” whose founding documents are “a divine revelation from God.”

“Yet our president has the gall to tell us that this is not a Christian nation,” Cruz told the audience. “The United States of America was formed to honor the word of God.”

I wish this were the gist of what Papa Cruz has been saying, so I could go on to what I want to say about him. But, oh no. There’s more.

Speaking at a Freedomworks summit in February, Castro said Latinos and black people were “being uniformed and deceived.”

“As a matter of fact, if we could communicate the truth, not only to the Hispanics but to the black population, all blacks should be Republican.” He backed up this statement with the worn-out and discredited belief that Latinos are “highly religious, strongly pro-family, strongly pro-life.”

On Thursday the Huffington Post refuted Cruz’s assumptions with, you know, facts. “Exit polls from the 2012 election, however, indicated that a majority of Latino voters, 59 percent, supported same-sex marriage, while an even larger majority, 66 percent, supported abortion rights.”

Now, as MSNBC’s Chris Matthews asked his audience on the day he first reported on Papa Cruz’s wild statements, “Does it matter? Or should we ignore the words of this man who is so close to the country’s loudest, angriest voice of the far right?”

I don’t think we can afford to ignore the statements made and beliefs expressed by the father of one of America’s most prominent and powerful right-wing leaders, especially since he’s touring the country as a surrogate for his son. He is not only his son’s biggest cheerleader, he’s also something of a spokesman and adviser.

“It’s Rafael Cruz’s sway in his son’s inner circle that makes him a power broker,” wrote Robert Costa for the National Review in a article ominously titled “The Rise of Rafael Cruz.” “His son trusts his father’s political instincts, and instead of hiring a big-name Republican strategist to shepherd his ascent, he uses his father for the kind of guidance you’d expect from a consultant.”

Look, we all have people in our family or circle of friends who say some heinous stuff from time to time. Hardly a Latino is spared from the ubiquitous backward grandmother, uncle or parent.

But Sen. Cruz’s relationship with his father goes beyond your average racist comment at Thanksgiving dinner. Papa Cruz is an integral member of the senator’s political team. The father’s talking points are the son’s talking points, or at least are part of his own ideology.

In a way, Cruz Sr. is a gift from Cuba, revealing for all to see how many on the far right view America and the changes they’d like to initiate. In fact, while Papa Cruz’s statements may nudge supporters away from the Cruz camp — though it’s unlikely — those same statements about Obama being a Marxist from Kenya and the the administration’s war on Christianity undoubtedly bring in new supporters every day, the kind of voter who thinks the Republican Party isn’t extreme enough.

So let Papa Cruz keep talking till he’s blue in the face. Let him keep articulating to the American people the vision that he, his son, his son’s supporters and others on the far right have in mind for this country. Let him go on about how secular humanism leads away from the moral absolutism of the Bible and toward moral relativism — which I and others actually consider a good thing.

The rest of us who stand for progress, pluralism and an open democracy merely view Papa Cruz as a reminder of what we don’t want for this country. It’s an important reminder, and for that, I’m all for the rise of Papa Cruz.

 

[Photo: Gage Skidmore via Flickr]

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