the supporters of Elian and his Miami relatives, the rescue
at sea was a "miracle," a phrase that the "send-him-back"
brigade steadfastly avoids. Not only did Elian manage to cling
to an inner tube for 48 hours, but he was saved from sharks
by the appearance of dolphins who formed a kind of honor guard,
ringing the boy and guiding him to the fishermen who saved
his life. Two days under a blazing sun did not produce the
burns and sores that afflict virtually all shipwreck survivors.
It is not just politics that superheats the fervor of Miami's
Cuban-Americans on behalf of Elian, but the influence of religion,
and specifically Santeria, an Africanized Catholicism with
pagan elements prevalent in the Caribbean region. Devotees
see the boy as the reincarnation of Elegua, the Santeria
equivalent of the Christ child. That Elian was rescued from
the sea is also significant, in religious terms, as the sea
is the dominion of the Virgin of Charity of El Cobre
Cuba's patron saint, popularly known as Cachita.
The legend that the Virgin appeared to three Cuban fishermen
lost at sea has resonance here. The Virgin Mary's Santeria
equivalent, Ochun, characterized as half virgin half
whore, also counts the ocean as her realm. To Cuban-Americans
and that small part of the native American population
not completely secularized and viscerally hostile to all manifestations
of faith in anything but science what happened that
day off the Florida coast was clearly divine intervention
on the child's behalf. The child is here, and should stay
here, because it was meant to be.
is what divides the devoutly religious Cuban American community
from the great majority of Americans who, according to the
omniscient polls, want the boy to go back with his father.
It is the miraculous view of life versus the secular-bureaucratic,
the claim of a higher law versus Janet Reno. If the courts
hand down their decision today, April 19th, authorizing
Reno to go in there like gangbusters and seize the child,
it is unlikely that she will take action on this particular
day the anniversary of the Waco massacre, in which
over 80 children and their parents were incinerated by Reno
and her fiendish feds. Such a brash act would only serve to
underscore the sinister aspects of this peculiar battle, which
pits an apparently willful and increasingly defiant six-year-old
boy and his American relatives against the power and majesty
of the federal government.
RULE OF LAW
yourself: why is the Attorney General of the United States
so concerned with "upholding the law" in the single case of
Elian Gonzalez, when illegal immigrants have practically taken
over several states in the American Southwest? For god's sakes,
they're voting in San Francisco elections, where the police
are officially constrained by city government from cooperating
with the Immigration and Naturalization Service in deporting
known criminals to their country of origin (usually Mexico
or somewhere in Central America). If Janet Reno wants to enforce
the law, why doesn't she go down to Army Street and start
forcibly deporting the hundreds of illegal immigrants who
line the streets, waiting to get picked up for temporary construction
and gardening work by cruising employers? Why doesn't she
go to New York City, where she could clean out whole neighborhoods
in an effort to "enforce the law," specifically the immigration
laws? Why pick on a six-year-old refugee from one of the last
remaining Communist dictatorships on earth?
THE COST OF FREEDOM
will never forget hearing Congresswoman Maxine Waters' answer
to the question put to her by Larry King: "Would you send
him back to Stalin's Russia [or] Hitler's Germany?" Waters
replied: "Yes, of course." Of course? Watching these
born-again liberal champions of parental rights and family
values is good for a few laughs. But there is something distinctly
sinister about it, too. The real agenda of the Clintonians
who want to put Elian on the next plane to Havana was revealed
by columnist Eleanor Clift on The McLaughlin Group,
when she blurted out in the heat of the debate: "I'd rather
be a poor child in Cuba than a poor child in New York City."
This was startling, not because it is all that rare an attitude,
but because it is rarely so openly expressed. Here is the
evidence, if any were needed, that the Left's newfound devotion
to the cause of father's rights is just window-dressing for
the same old fellow-traveling National Council of Churches
line: don't they have universal health care in the
Cuban Gulag? Don't all the little kiddies get their teeth
cleaned twice a year? Don't the Young Pioneers have nice
clean uniforms to wear as they march down Havana's streets
demanding the return of their "kidnapped" little brother?
The American Left hasn't cared a rat's ass about civil liberties
since the halcyon days of the Vietnam war era and then
only when their civil liberties were under attack.
The view of Ms. Clift, the archetypal Clintonian, is not that
much different from that of the boy's Commie father, Juan
Miguel Gonzalez, who was asked in a fawning softball interview
with Dan Rather if Elian would lose his freedom if forced
to return to Cuba. Gonzalez replied:
ask you what's freedom? Freedom is, for example, in Cuba,
where education and health care are free. Or is it the way
it is here? Which of the two is freedom? For example, here
when parents send their children to school they have to worry
about violence. A child could be shot at school. In Cuba,
things like that don't happen. So you can go to work and not
worry," said Gonzalez, who is fighting to get the boy back
from relatives in Miami. Which of the two is freedom?"
THE DORM WITH CHE
generation that grew up with posters of Che Guevara tacked
to the walls of their college dorms is now occupying the seats
of power, in government and the media: in their view, Fidel
is a flawed but heroic figure who improved the lot of the
average Cuban, a lovable Stalinist with panache and style.
Like the Bush administration, which was afraid of the anti-Communist
rebellions that rocked the Soviet Empire in Germany, and initially
tried to undercut and downplay the rising tide in Eastern
Europe, the Clintonians have always feared the consequences
of a successful anti-Communist uprising in Cuba in the wake
of Castro's death. It is not hard to imagine the panic of
our foreign policy bureaucrats as they project the "destabilization"
of the region in the wake of a revolution in Cuba one
that could precede the Cuban caudillo's death if the
boy winds up staying in Miami. This possibility is raised
fascinating article in Monday's Miami Herald [April
17, 2000], by Guillermo Cabrera Infante, in which he sketches
in the all-important religious context of the Elian controversy:
soon as the Santeros learned of Elian's fate . . . they declared
that he was a divine Elegua and that if he remained in Miami
in other words, in exile Fidel Castro 'would fall.'
The Elegua had to be returned to Cuba for the protection of
an atheist dictator who believes all of the Santeros' prophecies.
Soon after these predictions became known, Castro began his
speeches, roaring threateningly, as he always does. Then the
marches began, with thousands of little flags suddenly appearing,
in addition to (another miracle) identical T-shirts with a
likeness of the boy's face, so that he could appear over every
Cuban's heart (or at least on their shirts). All sorts of
Cubans, captive and free, marched.
time goes by, the prophecies of the Santeros are becoming
increasingly gloomy: Without the child there will be no Castro.
Is anyone surprised that an erstwhile Marxist-Leninist believes
in prophecies? Hitler, no less a secularist, believed in the
auguries of his personal astrologer."
WAR AGAINST THE MIRACULOUS
Janet Reno, and this Caligulan Administration, the miraculous
element of Elian's odyssey is all the more reason to end it.
While they may scoff at the very idea that Elian might be
the reincarnation of some mythical figure out of Caribbean
lore, they know that myths have the power to move nations
and make revolutions. The longer Elian stays in this
country, the more opportunity there is for a blowup in Havana
and this in an election year. The threat of a destabilized
Cuba accounts not only for Castro's insistence on the return
of the child, but also the US Justice Department's alliance
with the Cuban dictator in this affair. Reno's only problem
is that, instead of picking on a small and isolated community
of religious eccentrics on the fringes of American society,
such as Koresh and his followers, they suddenly find themselves
up against the population of a major American city. Incredibly,
they are coldly contemplating the logistics of the coming
plans for a sudden forcible entry, a military-style operation
eerily reminiscent of what happened on this day in a tiny
Texas town called Waco.
19TH A DAY THAT WILL LIVE IN INFAMY
only that, but in preparing public opinion for a show of force,
they are putting out a wacko pediatrician, one Dr. Irwin Redlener,
who, from his vantage point in the Bronx, has determined that
"Elian Gonzalez is now in a state of imminent danger to his
physical and emotional well-being in a home that I consider
to be psychologically abusive." This is what Redlener wrote
in a letter to Attorney General Janet Reno and INS commissar
Doris Meissner, after seeing the video of Elian recently released
by his Miami relatives: in Redlener's phrase, it resembled
a "hostage video." Just as Reno hauled out her government-approved
"experts" to "prove" that David Koresh was "abusing" the children
of Waco, so the Justice Department is sending out Redlener
to explain that, whatever violence occurs as the result of
the government's actions in Miami, they're doing it because,
as Redlener said on the Today Show, "This child needs to be
rescued." Can the tanks be far behind?
AM NOT GONG TO CUBA!" THAT'S TELLING 'EM, ELLIAN!
government-appointed experts detect signs of "dysfunction"
and even "Stockholm syndrome" in the remarkable video of Elian
stating his wishes, misdiagnosing his behavior as "finger-wagging"
disrespect to his father. Compared to the relatively placid
and passive demeanor of the typical American white kid
their own kids Elian seems super-animated, his gestures
suspiciously emphatic. Maybe he needs a good dose of Ritalin.
But then again, everything in Elian's culture is emphatic:
the gestures, the language, the passion that permeates the
Cuban soul and represents a continuing threat to Castro's
hold on the country. The most striking aspect of that video
was how remarkably coherent and adult young Elian Gonzalez
seemed, how like a Latinized version of those Tibetan child
lamas believed to be reincarnated Buddhas. His voice, rather
than childish and quavering, was serenely self-confident and
ringing with real conviction, and here
is what he said:
I do not want to go to Cuba. If you want to, stay here. I
am not going to Cuba. Dad, you saw that older woman that came
to the Sister's house. She wants to see me back in Cuba. I
tell them I am telling you you are saying that I want
to return to Cuba. But I am telling you now that I do not
want to go to Cuba. If you would like, stay here. But I do
not want to go to Cuba."
could be clearer than that? This kid doesn't want to go to
Cuba he wants to go to Hollywood. That video, with
little Elian auditioning for the part of Elegua, was
the first starring role of a phenomenon that could be bigger
than Ricky Martin. And who begrudges him his meteoric rise
to superstardom, aside from the dour Janet Reno and a cabal
of Cuba-loving Commies?
VALUES, SUI GENERIS AND UEBER ALLES
addition to Reno and liberals of the Eleanor Clift persuasion,
the continuing defiance of Elian and his Miami relatives enrages
a small but vocal minority of "family values" conservatives,
who claim that the father's wishes must be given priority
over all else. But is a family only the father? Don't grandmothers
and grandfathers, aunts and uncles, sisters and brothers and
cousins count for something? To say that Elian must
be deported to a country where the official ideology calls
for the abolition of the family in the fame
of family values, no less is a contradiction of such
stunning clumsiness that one is almost embarrassed to have
to point it out. Far from returning to his father's supposedly
loving home, on his return Elian
will be transported to a "transitional environment," i.e.
a mini-Gulag complete with swimming pool and enough room for
"counselors" and a dozen "classmates," as well as his father's
family members, who will "re-integrate" (i.e. re-indoctrinate)
Elian back into the Cuban workers' paradise.
HERALD OF THE NEW CUBA?
what about Elian does his age deprive him of any and
all say in what is to be his fate? I refer back to the video
that the psychologists and psychiatrists are descrying as
evidence of "exploitation" and "brainwashing." While his gestures
are childish, this is clearly no longer a mere child, but
one who has been transformed, through his ordeal, into something
more. Does anyone imagine that he is unaware of what is going
on around him, or that he doesn't have an intimate knowledge
of the cultural and religious context in which his odyssey
has taken place? He is Cuban, after all, and a child.
Cachita, Elegua, the Virgin of Charity of El
Cobre: they populate his dreams, waking and sleeping
and they are Castro's worst nightmares. The child could become
the center of a political and religious phenomenon that may
herald the the end of Cuban communism. This is what the Cuban
dictator and his American fellow travelers fear above all
and in this task of preventing such a development the
US government is, for some reason, their dogged instrument.
the coming showdown between Elian's supporters and the Justice
Department, all the most ominous signs of a pre-Waco situation
seem prominently in place: the "experts," the threats, the
deadlines, the stubborn refusal of the Justice Department
to recognize the religious significance or meaning of the
events and their unwillingness and inability to negotiate
or compromise. But the murderous rage of Reno and her minions,
as we have learned, can only be contained for so long. God
help the people of Miami, Elian's family, and Elian himself,
for the Satanic evil that animates the US Justice Department
is about done baring its fangs. There is every indication
that Reno is getting ready to strike. And when she does, we
can only hope that the same benevolent force that saved Elian
from the jaws of sharks will keep him out of Reno's (and Castro's)
clutches. Coming from a lifelong atheist, that hope doesn't
mean much but even this dyed-in-the-wool rationalist
is moved to ask: how many shipwreck victims are guided to
safety by dolphins, I wonder: what's up with that?
At the start of all this brouhaha, I wondered: Why is Castro
scared shitless of this little boy? Now I get it. .
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