Monday, May 1, 2000

Week of 05/01/2000

Cutting Through The Elian Hysteria
- by David Matthews 2

"It is doubtful if the oppressed ever fight for freedom. They fight for pride and power- power to oppress others. The oppressed want above all to imitate their oppressors; they want to retaliate." - Eric Hoffer

I had told myself once upon a time that I would not talk about the situation over Elian Gonzales again.

I had examined this issue back in January. I pointed out that everyone involved with this situation have used that six-year old boy as a tool for their own purposes. I mentioned how this issue has been so politicized that not even King Solomon could resolve it. And I mentioned that, as much as it galled me, I had to admit that the Clinton Regime had done the right thing by saying that the boy belonged with his father and not with his extended family.

Unfortunately, that was in January. What a difference a few months make!

What was once a matter between the Cuban exiles of Miami and Elian’s father has escalated into national controversy. What was once a matter that was going to be settled in the courts became a matter of violence and threats of violence and a televised raid by federal agents that angered and surprised everyone… except for at least one person.

Now let’s get brutally honest here.. I was not surprised at the fact that Attorney General Janet Reno would order agents from the Immigration and Naturalization Service to take Elian from the Miami home and reunite him with his father, Juan Miguel Gonzales. In fact, all of the hints that a raid was forthcoming were as plain as day.

First of all, there is the fact that one does not say no to the Clinton Regime without paying a price. Just ask Bill Gates and the executives of Microsoft. They said "no" to the Regime over censoring the Internet and over encryption, and they got rewarded with an antitrust lawsuit that could split the company in two. America Online eventually rolls over to the Regime, and they get to build a monopoly all their own that puts Microsoft’s dominance to shame.

The second sign that the raid in Miami was forthcoming was the triggering of Janet Reno’s panic button. As the events in Waco showed, Janet Reno has an incredible amount of reserve when it involves children. But once Janet Reno heard that children were being abused in the Branch Davidian compound, she changed her policy and allowed the FBI to begin the series of events that led to the fiery death of every man, woman, and child in that compound.

Even though Waco has served as a constant reminder of how abuse of power can go wrong, Reno’s hypersensitivity to the plight of children remained as her Achilles Heel. And it was that button that was pushed once reports were submitted to her office claiming that Elian was suffering from psychological abuse by his relatives over the media coverage of his life. The minute that report was made public, people should have prepared for Reno to act.

Finally, there was the public goading by Lazalo Gonzales --- Elian’s great-uncle, and the man who has been instrumental in turning this whole affair into a media circus. Was it the imagination of this commentator to see Lazalo get in front of the cameras at one point prior to the raid and tell the world that if Janet Reno wanted to get to Elian, she’d have to do it by force? You don’t make those kinds of statements to the media and expect members of the government to consider them as just idle boasting.

So the raid happened, almost exactly as this commentator had predicted it would.

And now we have the aftermath.

We have a Cuban community that is acting like a bunch of spoiled children that lost their scoop of ice cream. We have a mayor of Miami who is firing anyone within his grasp associated with the raid, and in the process acting very much like his tyrannical predecessor. We have a US Senator acting very much surprised that the President of the United States would go back on his word. (C’mon, didn’t "L’affair Lewinsky" teach the world to not trust Clinton?) We have conservatives throwing screaming fits until their faces turn red-white-and-blue, and Republican members of Congress demanding yet another investigation of the Department of Justice.

While our elected blowhards banter faux-patriotisim, let’s consider a few things here.

First let’s remember we’re talking about a six-year old boy here. A boy that mentally has no concept of what world politics is all about. He certainly is in no position to demand political asylum, and there is even a legal precedent here in America that says one must be at least twelve before political asylum could be considered. That means legally the responsibility defaults to the parents… or in Elian’s case, his father.

I’d like all of those parents out there who feel Juan Miguel Gonzales is just a tool for the Cuban government to picture this little scene: Imagine your child coming to you and saying that America is a repressive country, and that they would like to live in a country with a little more freedom. Maybe the Netherlands. Would you let your child claim political asylum? Of course not!

So here’s the question of the day for all of those "family values" conservatives out there.. why is it that parental responsibility - which you folks claim is the end-all, be-all in the world - does not apply to Juan Miguel Gonzales? Why are you people so eager to take away Juan Miguel’s rights as a father simply because he refuses to stay in America? Your hypocrisy in this matter could not be any plainer if you tattooed the scarlet letter "H" on your foreheads!

If Juan Miguel Gonzales freely decided to keep his family here in America, that would be one thing. But if, after staying here on American soil this long, he decides to take Elian and the rest of his family and go back to Cuba, we should respect that decision. We have no business forcing someone to stay in this country simply because we don’t like the leader of that country. The last time we forced a group of people against their will to live in this country, it was called slavery.

Then there was the amount of force used in the raid. Hey, I’ll be honest with you, you had a crowd of people ready to riot on a moment’s notice. If I was with that group of INS agents, I’d have asked to be armed and padded as well! I was actually surprised that the raid was conducted with so FEW members of law enforcement. I was expecting members of the military getting involved, much like they did in Waco.

Did the raid use excessive force? Of course. But unfortunately, there was little choice in the matter. All of the wrong buttons were pushed.

Could this matter have been resolved peacefully? Yes. Months ago when this whole matter started. Why wasn’t it? Because politics got involved. Too many people started waving flags and parading about faux-patriotic banners to prevent a peaceful solution to this whole matter.

So where does that leave us now?

Right now we’re stuck with a bunch of people throwing temper tantrums both in Miami and in Washington. There really isn’t much to do about the tantrum fits in Washington except to let them die out. But for the people in Miami, there is much that can be done.

If the Cuban people in Miami are really pissed off at this situation, why don’t they do something about it besides try to shut down their own community? Get some boats, get some guns, go back to Cuba and get rid of Castro! Don’t wait for the United States to do something. We did our part, remember? Bay of Pigs. And we did a half-assed job in the process! Don’t wait this time! Fidel doesn’t have the support of the Soviet Union anymore. If the Cuban community is really concerned about the kind of life Elian would be living in when he goes back to Cuba, they should be willing to go back to their homeland and make it a place they would once again be proud to call home.

And maybe it is time we washed our hands of this situation once and for all. The Cold War is dead, and it deserves to stay dead. We need to look beyond the pseudo-patriotic banners and flag-waving and public hysteria and really look at the big picture. If we truly cherish families, we must be willing to let parents make the decisions that they feel are in the best interests of their children. If we truly value freedom, we must also be willing to accept the decision of those who do not want our kind of freedom.

Free will is more than just being able to choose freedom over tyranny, but also to freely choose the opposite. Eliminate that choice, and we are the ones that become the puppets.

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