photo by Yoshinori Abe

April 21, 2000


I know, at least in theory, that we are governed by criminals: after all, what kind of a person would bomb an aspirin factory in an effort to divert attention from his own sickening perversions? Who else would slaughter thousands in the former Yugoslavia in the name of "human rights"? What sort of government demonizes a community of harmless eccentric Christians in rural Texas and then incinerates more than 80 of them in a nationally-televised inferno of death? What kind of government rampages over the earth, threatening, demanding, bullying, and wreaking destruction in its path? The evidence is overwhelming: we are ruled by psychopaths, who, in a better world, would be locked up with no chance of ever again seeing the light of day. But abstract knowledge is one thing – and the full-bodied reality of it is quite another. Under normal circumstances, it is possible to go about your business and ignore the evil emanating out of Washington; in the normal course of events it is at worst a dark cloud on the distant horizon. But there is nothing remotely normal about the times we are living in – at least, I hope not – and the proof of it is in a story hot off Matt Drudge's website.


The headline reads: "Reno Plans Removing Boy by Force in Thursday Meeting With Aides; Told Staff That President Wants Boy Removed." As I put it in my last column, with the Clinton gang pushing the line that Elian Gonzalez is being "abused" by his Miami relatives, "can the tanks be far behind?" Apparently they are right around the corner. Reno reportedly told her aides on Thursday that "the president wants the boy removed from the house." She then outlined a detailed plan, obviously prepared well in advance, mapping out an operation designed to capture the boy and drag him, kicking and screaming, to his beloved Commie father. The meeting, described as an "emotional" one, involved Justice Department lawyers, immigration officials and law enforcement experts who heard Reno describe how she will seek a federal court order demanding the boy's surrender. According to Drudge, "if the family does not comply with the order, law enforcement officials will be directed to enter the home to capture the boy." Drudge also informs us that "the attorney general's course of action is so detailed" that "specific individuals who will be assigned to enter the house have already been chosen." The wheels of evil are turning swiftly: we can hear them whirring and humming as the machinery of repression gears up for action. Are we looking at another Waco?


Our lawless government, presided over by the First Felon, was enraged by its stunning defeat on Wednesday, when the U.S. Court of Appeals disdainfully dismissed Janet Reno's egregious legal arguments against Elian's right to petition for political asylum in the US. The government had no case: plenty of underage asylum seekers have been granted hearings, and had their day in court, although the Immigration and Naturalization Service has hardly had a consistent policy on this question. At issue was what Congress meant when it passed a law stating: "Any alien who is physically present in the United States . . . irrespective of such alien's status, may apply for asylum in accordance with this section." Reno's legal lynch mob argued that "any alien" meant "any alien above the age of eighteen." The court, however, was not buying it: "If Congress had meant to include only some aliens," the judge dryly remarked, "perhaps Congress would not have used the words 'any aliens.'"


This was too much for the unstable and heavily medicated Reno, whose disease-wracked body is shaking with the devastating effects of Parkinson's – and is now quivering with equal amounts of rage. Who knows how much testosterone is pumping through the veins of that sexually ambivalent body, flooding her brain cells with a murderous rage? Mad Dog Reno, the Clinton gang's pit bull, is about to go on a rampage. Before this raging bull is through, not only Elian but the whole nation will be so thoroughly traumatized that Waco will seem like a Sunday school picnic.


The legal and political meaning of what is happening to Elian seems completely lost on our so-called "liberals," whose illiberal opinions are increasingly taking on an explicitly authoritarian air. It used to be that "liberals" were for the right to asylum. Wasn't it liberals who once gloried in the US as a haven for persecuted peoples the world over? Didn't it used to be the liberals who fought for the rights of youth, for their legal right to personhood, insisting on their status as autonomous beings, and the conservatives who insisted on their God-given right to treat children as chattel slaves? No more. These days, according to the polls, the more liberal you are the more likely you are to approve of Reno's plan to go in there guns blazing, rip the cutesy stuffed animals out of the kid's arms, and drag him by the hair all the way back to the Cuban gulag. According to this poll:

"Democrats were definitive in their support of using force (59% yes, 32.9% no) while Republicans were equally divided (43.6% yes, 44.6% no). Younger respondents, those 18-24 years-old were divided (47.5% yes, 46.3% no) while older respondents, those 55-69 years-old were adamant that force be used (53.2% yes, 33.1% no)."


"Definitive" is exactly the right word. This is a bunch of left-of-center old fogies who were flower children during the sixties and have now moulted into their own distorted idea of what their much-vilified parents were like. In their heyday, as champions of "freedom" and opposition to war, these graying hippies cheered the bombing of Belgrade and think we ought to model our healthcare system on Cuba's. They think Reno was right to massacre the inhabitants of Waco – who were, after all, hated Christians – just as they will hail her bloody victory when she moves in on Miami. The bad news is that these cretins are the majority.


This underscores the irony and tragedy at the heart of Elian's odyssey – and the odysseys of thousands of other asylum seekers, Cuban or whatever, who see in America the homeland of freedom, and their own. They came all this way, desperately clinging to makeshift rafts, risking death on the high seas and capture by either the Cuban authorities or the Coast Guard, scrambling onto the beaches gasping for air and the chance to breathe free – only to discover that they have washed up on the shores of a tyranny than is in many ways similar to the one they escaped. To their horror, and growing bewilderment, Cuban-Americans who fled Castro's "worker's paradise" are confronted with the realization that the regimes in Havana and Washington, D.C. have an awful lot in common. Both use the state apparatus as a weapon against their political enemies, and will not hesitate to come crashing through the door in pursuit of dissidents – or anyone who challenges their authority. So brittle and uncertain is their rule that the least amount of resistance provokes a wildly disproportionate response – retaliation that is usually quite deadly. Both hate religion, and seek to banish it from the public square, and both are horrified by the fervent religious conviction of Miami's Elianistas, adherents of Santeria – for whom the boy is the living incarnation of Elegua, one of the numerous aspects of the Christ child. Both regimes are militantly egalitarian and have a long history of aggressive "internationalism." Fidel's armies in Africa and Grenada, and Che's "internationalist" heroics in Bolivia and throughout South America, earned Cuba the plaudits of Commies the world over during the Cold War – none more effusive than American leftists. This same cause, "internationalism," was invoked by our own President as American bombers rained death on targets from Belgrade to Baghdad. And the process of convergence is rapidly accelerating: by the time Elian reaches adulthood, even if he manages to stay in America, he will lose his freedom in any event, as the Cubanizaton of America is completed.


Is anyone surprised that Clinton has personally given the order to seize the child? Clinton and Fidel are brothers under the skin. If Clinton had his way his term of office would rival Fidel's. Both are ruthless liars with a sense of showmanship, political survivors who cling to power like dope addicts who can never get enough. And then there is the legacy factor . . .


The President does not want to go out of office without a final pathetic flourish, a sad attempt to establish a "legacy" much beyond snickering jokes about cigars. With the Congress locked in a partisan death-grip, and the likelihood of any domestic legislation getting through big enough to attain legacy status virtually nil, Clinton will naturally gravitate toward the foreign policy realm to find redemption. Seen in the context of a planned rapprochement with Cuba, this administration's fixation on the immigration status of a six-year-old refugee begins to make a twisted kind of sense. Instead of being remembered as the sleazebag he is, our dear chief executive will go down in history as the architect of a new era in US-Cuban relations, the man who really ended the cold war – or so Clinton and his advisors hope.


As Pat Buchanan has pointed out, it is long past time to end the embargo on trade and travel with Cuba: it helps keep Castro in power, and generates anti-Americanism not only in Cuba but throughout the Southern hemisphere. Our allies deride us, and rightly ignore the embargo, glad to profit from our policy even as they sneer "Oh, those Americans! You know how they are!" The embargo was a mistake from the beginning, and the sooner it is dropped the better. But if Clinton wants to normalize relations with Cuba, at the price of one boy's freedom, then that is too much to pay. Normalization of trade and diplomatic relations with Cuba is the right course in any event, and can be effected unilaterally by the US: no negotiations with Castro are necessary, and therefore there must be no "deal" between Washington and Havana setting down terms and conditions.


It is not hard to imagine the unwritten coda of a Clinton-Castro joint communiqué announcing the normalization of relations stipulating Elian's return. Initialing such an agreement would be the equivalent of Clinton signing Elian's death warrant. As the living symbol of resistance to the Castro regime, the boy's life and freedom in Cuba would always be at risk. Certainly he would be the most watched citizen in a society where government surveillance of everyday life is conducted on a block-by-block basis. Like the captive Panchen Llama, the Peking-approved living incarnation of the boy Buddha, Elian will live in a government-guarded compound, under the watchful eye of the regime, in sad and lonely exile. This is the fate Clinton and Reno have all mapped out for him.


That Janet Reno would even consider sending in armed agents to take possession of the boy tells us all we need to know about the sheer irresponsibility and heavy-handedness of this administration. If this were Al Sharpton defying the authority of Rudy Giuliani, or Jesse Jackson defying the law and common sense in pursuit of some politically correct cause, this kind of federal action would be unthinkable. For five months Cuban-Americans have been subjected to a smear campaign launched by the usual suspects: as just one example, the other day on CNN the insufferable Judy Woodruff was railing that "a group of armed men" are stationed next door to the home of Lazaro Gonzalez, and have pledged to defend the child against the coming assault. She was soon disabused of this extravagant notion by the on-the-spot reporter, who remarked that the hundreds of journalists jostling each other for position in front of the house had seen neither hide nor hair of such gunmen. Little cracks of disappointment creased Judy's wooden face, pulling at the corners of her down-turned mouth as she thanked him somewhat curtly for his report. God, how I hate that bitch.


It is hard to believe that Reno is repeating her Waco strategy as we observe the mournful anniversary of that monstrous crime. So often, in Clinton's America, we seem to be living in a nightmare, a "bad trip" of near psychedelic intensity, in which evil is omnipotent. In Elian, the good is embodied in the guileless vulnerability of a six-year-old boy who demands his day in court. Washed up on the shores of freedom, rescued by Providence and miraculously unharmed, he claims sanctuary and the right to a new life. But poor Elian arrived several years too late. There was a time when this republic was the lighthouse of freedom the world over, the homeland of liberty and a beacon to liberals (in the classical sense) in Europe, South America, and beyond. But that time is long gone, and we won't tarry over the question of when our old republic slipped from our fingers. As Garet Garrett, that sage of the Old Right and prophet of decline put it:

"We have crossed the boundary that lies between Republic and Empire. If you ask when, the answer is that you cannot make a single stroke between day and night; the precise moment does not matter. There was no painted sign to say: 'You are now entering Imperium.' Yet it was a very old road and the voice of history was saying: 'Whether you know it or not, the act of crossing may be irreversible.' And now, not far ahead, is a sign that reads: 'No U-turns.'"


In the post-cold war world ruled by the American Imperium, the Emperor's legacy is worth more than the freedom of a little boy, and that is the calculation that got us to this point. That is the rationale behind the coming explosion in Miami, where the Cuban-American refugee population is likely to come into violent conflict with federal authorities. If Attorney General Reno carries out her demonic plan, in clear violation of the spirit if not the letter of the recent court decision, then the rule of law is finished in this country – and massive violence is probable if not inevitable. This could mean the beginning of the radicalization of Cuban-Americans, who will be sure to take away from this experience at least one invaluable lesson: the main enemy is not in Havana but in Washington, DC.


I have received a lot of e-mails about my two columns on Elian Gonzalez, so many that I don't have time to answer them all. But for all of you who have questions and comments - Bronx cheers as well as accolades - there is a very interesting discussion taking place on our Yahoo club website. Go to the site by following the preceding link, and join up (just click on the right-hand side where it says "Join this club"). Our Yahoo club has recently been upgraded, with an expanded news section, photos, and links as well as a scintillating discussion board that is very active and well worth your time. This is your opportunity to let us know what you think of what you read here - so don't be shy. Sound off!

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Justin Raimondo is the editorial director of He is also the author of Reclaiming the American Right: The Lost Legacy of the Conservative Movement (with an Introduction by Patrick J. Buchanan), (1993), and Into the Bosnian Quagmire: The Case Against U.S. Intervention in the Balkans (1996). He is an Adjunct Scholar with the Ludwig von Mises Institute, in Auburn, Alabama, a Senior Fellow at the Center for Libertarian Studies, and writes frequently for Chronicles: A Magazine of American Culture. He is the author of An Enemy of the State: The Life of Murray N. Rothbard (forthcoming from Prometheus Books).

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