Attorney General Janet Reno articulated the official position of the
government of the United States of America when she said the following
about Elian Gonzalez: “Elian deserves the very best we can give him. …
Let’s not disappoint him. … It is not our place to punish a father for
his political beliefs, or where he wants to raise his child.”
These short, simplistic statements reflect either a mountainous
hypocrisy or an ignorance so vast as to defy description. One way to
characterize them is to put them in the context of the Waco massacre. If
General Reno believes it is not the place of government to punish
parents for their beliefs or decisions concerning where a child is to be
raised, why did she, for the expressly stated purpose of rescuing the
children from their parents, order a military-style attack with tanks,
incendiary gas grenades and helicopters upon the compound where parents
with religious beliefs wanted to raise their children?
The ensuing disaster, in which nearly 100 men, women, children and
babies were burned to death, would have toppled the government in
essentially every other civilized country in the world — and the
responsible parties, including Janet Reno, would have been imprisoned
for wanton acts of child endangerment and gross criminal negligence.
Another way to view Reno’s comments is in the context of American
foreign policy. While the Gore-Clinton administration is courageous
enough to drop bombs and fire missiles to protect freedom and “human
rights” in Yugoslavia and Serbia, it is cowardly enough to return an
innocent child to tyranny and call it “the very best we can give him.”
If it is our conviction that the difference between life in communist
Cuba and in America is not great enough to affect a decision on a
child’s future, what is our problem with returning democratic Taiwan to
This is not the first time America has shamed itself by turning a
cold shoulder to those who are desperately attempting to escape tyranny.
On May 27, 1939, a boatload of 937 Jewish refugees arrived at Havana on
the German ship the St. Louis. They were fleeing the Nazis. After Cuba
refused to let them land, they sailed to Florida, but the government of
the United States denied them asylum. The ship returned to Europe, and
the passengers were divided between France, Belgium, Holland and
England. An estimated 250 of them eventually fell into the hands of the
Nazis and died in the Holocaust.
It is more than frightening — it is terrifying — that a large
number of Americans could believe that we honor “family values” by
returning Elian to a communist country. There are no “family values” in
Cuba comparable to what Americans think of as family values.
The abuse of children in Cuba is required by law. This is not a
reference to the abuse inherent in poverty, slums and child labor. The
real atrocity and the most damaging abuse is the mutilation of the mind
that takes place in the government schools of Cuba.
It is incredible to listen to male pundits and politicians reflecting
on their own feelings as fathers, emoting about how close the bond is
between father and son, and how it is unconscionable that the American
government would dare interfere in the relationship of Elian with his
father. They make the point that a father in Cuba loves his son just as
much as a father in America.
Yes, and so does a father imprisoned in Sing Sing love his son, and
so does a father in a concentration camp love his son, and what in the
world does that have to do with what is best for a child? Surely, what
is best for Elian is not a life sentence on the prison island of Cuba,
where people who try to escape are shot.
These truths apparently are not self-evident. We are reaping the
harvest of years of egalitarian thinking, relative ethics and
non-judgmentalism in our media and in our schools. We have blinded
ourselves not just to differences we should not see, but to those we
In Cuba, the child’s mind is bent to conform to the will of the state
and twisted not simply to suppress opposing thoughts and ideas, but to
make the thinking of them impossible. In Cuba, the mind and body of the
child are under the control of state bureaucrats. They would also lay
claim to the soul, if they believed the child had one.
The primary and mandatory bonding of every Cuban citizen, including
children, is not to the family, and not to God, but to the state.
That is Elian’s fate.