escapes from totalitarian jail to the freedom and unlimited
opportunity of the US: American law gives Cubans the right
to stay on US soil if they succeed in getting that far on
their own power: it's the "dry foot, wet foot" policy.
Since Elian qualifies under the law, he has the right to stay:
case closed. To add drama and pathos to the story: The boy's
mother, determined that her son would live in freedom and
have the chance for a good life, risked her own and lost
it. But the dream lived on: Elian is free. What is completely
inexplicable, and even frightening, is that he may not be
free for long.
we be talking about this if Elian were a refugee from, say,
Iraq or Serbia? Of course not. But Cuba retains a place
in the affections of the American left. So what if it ruthlessly
represses all political opposition and represents the last
gasp of a system that killed more people than the Nazis
they have universal health care, don't they?
the Clinton administration has taken an officially "neutral"
position, and is claiming that they will leave it to the Immigration
and Naturalization Service (INS) to make what the pundits
are calling a "Solomonic" decision. "I don't
think that we should, any of us, interfere with what is going
to be a difficult enough decision as it is," Clinton
said at a Dec. 9 news conference.
But the idea that it is possible or admirable to be morally
"neutral" in a matter of this kind is, itself, most
assuredly a very un-neutral stance to take. In posing
life in the US and life in the Cuba as two equally desirable
and morally plausible fates, the Clintonians and their left-liberal
amen corner are delivering the not-so-subtle message that
Cuba is not only an okay place, kind of like a tropicalized
Berkeley, but is morally equivalent to the US.
reflexively get out the barf bags on hearing these arguments,
and I, too, am disgusted and bewildered that anyone could
say such things without an acute sense of embarrassment if
not genuine shame. What's even more inexplicable and
devastatingly depressing is that a
great many Americans, about half, seem to favor sending the
boy back to live with his Commie father, at least according
to recent polls. In other words, about half of the American
people, 45 percent, see no fundamental difference between
life under Castro's totalitarian regime and Clinton's America.
THE OTHER HAND . . .
we think of it that way, they may have a point. The efficiency
and ruthlessness of Castro's political police, is rivaled
by our own which
was unleashed against dozens of conservative dissidents and
others during the Clinton years, and I'm not just talking
about Waco and Ruby Ridge.
ask Linda Tripp. Poor pathetic Linda will not spend twenty
years in the Cuban gulag for soiling the legacy of Commandante
Clinton. But a million-dollar-plus legal bill and coast-to-coast
vilification is a heavy price to pay for the crime of lese
an awfully loooong list of people who have two things in common
they crossed the Clintons, and subsequently met unfortunate
"accidents" has been compiled by people who
keep track of such things, such
as the British journalist Ambrose Evans-Pritchard.
No, we aren't as far down the road to serfdom as the Cubans.
But we are catching up with them quickly enough to make some
Americans queasy put me in that category and
others complacent about the ongoing Cubanization of American
CUBANIZATION OF AMERICA
Isn't that a little overdrawn? Well, then, look at it this
way: Sure, we have elections controlled by two state-supported
and subsidized parties. These two parties, which enjoy a monopoly
on ballot status, are merely separate "left" and
"right" wings of the same party, the Washington
party, which controls American politics far more effectively
than a one-party state. But, hey, wait a minute, unlike
Castro's Cuba, we have a free press right?
right, we have a "free press" one
so intertwined with government on every level that official
controls and censorship are not even necessary: the flacks
and hacks of the American media do not even need to be told
what to write, since their every instinct is to parrot the
government line even before it is fully formulated. As an
effective system of thought control, the power, reach, and
dependable unanimity of the mainstream media is unsurpassed
by anything Fidel's pathetic propaganda apparatus has to offer.
can't dissidents still speak out against the government
what about the First Amendment? Sure, you can operate your
own single-jack operation, get on a soapbox, electronic or
otherwise, and get your own two cents worth in but
even that privilege is in danger of being revoked. As the
federal government inches closer to regulating and taxing
the Internet, invoking "hate crime" laws to limit
speech, and launching Orwellian schemes such as "Project
Echelon," there is a growing movement to formalize
the thought control and government surveillance that comes
with the imposition of a totalitarian regime.
SINS OF THE FATHER
father is Juan Miguel Gonzalez, a loyal Castroite Communist
who proudly points to the portrait of Che Guevera hanging
in his bedroom, and has become an official instrument of Cuban
government propaganda. Is anyone surprised that he was encouraged
by his recent meeting with American immigration officials?
"'These people [the INS] have been on our side all along.
They agree that he should be back here, that the child should
be returned as soon as possible,' a
beaming Gonzalez said in an interview outside his two-story
home in Cardena, 95 miles east of Havana," reports the
SI! CUBANS, NO?
course the INS (and, behind them, the Clinton administration)
is on Castro's side, although
they are rushing to deny it. They can't register these
immigrants right off the boat and count on them as loyal Democratic
party voters. Haitian, Bosnians, Mexicans yes,
send more, and plenty of them. But please, no more
Cubans, not even a 5-year-old boy, a waif washed up on the
shores of (relative) freedom and never mind his mother's
obvious wishes and the tragedy of her ultimate sacrifice.
LEFT DISCOVERS "FAMILY VALUES"
the left has discovered the virtues of "family values"
and fatherhood, declaring that the boy must not be a tool
of Cuban exiles and a political cause: we must decide "what's
best for the child," as Al Gore put it. But of course
it would be "better for the child" to go back to
the life he once knew, which was filled with such activities
as his parents "taking him to a march commemorating revolutionary
hero Camilo Cienfuegos." According
to documents released by the Cubans,
Elian attended a day-care center run by the "Young Pioneers
a branch of the Cuban Communist Party which virtually
all Cuban children are required to join. Perhaps, on second
thought, it is better if he stays in Cuba while
indoctrination in the Young Pioneers might not be much different
from an education in our oh-so-politically correct public
schools, at least in Cuba he'll learn to read and write
and will be in less danger from a random mugging, beating,
or mass killing.
Cubans claim that the boy belongs with his father, and that
the US is "stealing" him by letting him stay. Our
own Fidelistas echo this refrain: speaking in "family
values" code, they aver that the boy would be "better
off" with his surviving parent. Isn't it funny how these
lefties, who are supposed to be such big feminists, are now
forgetting or evading the mother whose name I could
not find in any of the news accounts. We have heard much about
the father, we know his name and his politics and his demands,
but what about the mother? What was her story? The father,
we know, is a dedicated Commie, but the mother, who tried
to escape with her child, was estranged from him: Who knows
what differences led to their estrangement and yet,
from what we do know about the basic facts of her life,
they were different enough politically for one to flee from
tyranny and the other to embrace it. If Elian returns, then
her sacrifice was in vain how come the feminists don't
have a problem with this? Will no one speak out in the mother's
name, and demand to know why her clear intent is not being
Cuban government has made Elian's fate a rallying point for
the faltering regime, and has mobilized mass "spontaneous"
demonstrations demanding the child's forced return. Fidel
himself has personally taken up the cause, declaring
that "there will be millions of people in the streets
demanding the boy's freedom. It is difficult to hold back
the population with the state of irritation." And sure
enough, there were demonstrations in front of the US embassy,
one of which was described by the Associated Press [Dec. 6]
as follows: "Waving Cuban flags and chanting political
slogans, 500 members of the Communist Youth gathered Sunday
night in the first such protest outside the U.S. Interests
Section in Havana the American government's Cuban mission.
'Elian, our friend! Cuba is with you!' the young communists
chanted during the hour-long demonstration."
FRIENDS LIKE THESE . . .
"friends" like these, Elian doesn't need any enemies.
Cuba may be with him but only in the sense that most
of the population wishes that they, too, were being feted
in Miami or at least free to leave the Cuban "workers'
paradise." Trapped in a totalitarian nightmare, the best
of Cuba's young people go quietly mad. The worst join the
Commie nomenklatura while the vast majority
in the middle can only wait and hope that the regime will
someday go the way of its former Soviet allies. If we send
Elian back, which road will he take? Will he rebel, become
a dissident, and get into trouble? Or will he go along with
the program, like his father, and perhaps become a propaganda
icon, a model of the New Socialist Man? If he has an ounce
of independence and the strength of will to cling to
an inner tube for endless hours at the age of 5 we
may find that, one day, a grown-up Elian will return under
similar circumstances. And what will we say to him then?
DON'T WANT TO GO BACK!"
all this publicity, Elian could not have a normal life in
Cuba. He would be watched constantly, and, as he grows up,
he would be put under tremendous pressure to demonstrate his
loyalty to the regime. According to his cousin, Marisleysis
Gonzalez, who lives in Florida: "He told me, 'I don't
want to go back, I don't want to go back'" and
that is good enough for me. Elian may be a child, but this
kid's no dummy he realizes that his mother died in
the attempt to give him a better life and now that
he has it he wants to keep it. Who among us can blame him?
the INS and our resident Fidelistas, who would re-enroll him
in the "Young Pioneers."
NEW SEARCH ENGINE
am pleased to announce that we now have a search engine
a device that comes in handy with a website like Antiwar.com.
And you have certainly been taking advantage of it, as I can
see from our hit report. I find that it is very useful,
and am confident that our readers will give it quite a workout.
Thanks to Eric Garris, our ISP Eagle-Net,
and the volunteers and contributors who made it possible.
We continue to improve this site, not only continually updating
the news but also giving you new features, new columns, and
new tools. Please let us know what you think: without your
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that isn't all, as far as improvements go there's the
new photo that accompanies this column. I don't mind saying
that this an innovation that comes as a great relief
to me: when we first started featuring a photo at the top
of "Behind the Headlines," the only one on hand was a particularly
geeky one that made me look like a cross between Elmer Fudd
and a Mafia hit-man. The new one, which is much more informal
and, in my view, realistic was taken by Yoshinori
Abe: no more phony smile, just a candid glare. Thanks to Yoshi,
for catching me by surprise with his camera, and especially
to Malcom Garris, who redesigned the logo.