Anyone familiar with the details of Elian’s rescue at sea can’t help but
see it as something of a miracle. There is a website devoted to the cause
of Elian’s freedom: Here is how it describes Elian’s rescue:

    Elian and 12 people including his mother boarded a
    small boat, headed to the United States, seeking freedom. On their journey,
    they encountered rough seas. This caused their boat to sink.

Stop for a moment and imagine the terror of these people as that
small aluminum boat sank from under them, knowing full well that most of
them would drown. They had taken the risk of escape and lost. The story

    Elian was placed on an inner tube by his Mother, she
    told him, “Stay here and don’t move, you will be saved. Many of the
    passengers including Elian’s mother and stepfather drowned.

It’s hard for most Americans to identify with Elian’s mother, about
to die, giving her son the best chance of survival. Thousands of ordinary
human beings who have risked everything to escape from tyranny have faced
such hopeless situations. From the Berlin Wall to the Boat People of
Vietnam, ordinary people have been forced to perform heroic acts in order to
be able to lead ordinary lives in freedom. The story continues:

    Elian was found two days later floating 3 miles from
    Pompano Beach (in the same inner tube that his mother had placed him). The
    fishermen that found Elian reported that Elian was surrounded by dolphins
    (Mammel), who were protecting him from the shark infested waters. A
    miracle? Elian had not eaten for two days. Elian was later taken to Joe
    Dimaggio Children’s Hospital. He was thought to be suffering from
    dehydration and mild hypothermia.

He survived in surprising good health. A miracle? He was
surrounded by dolphins — our beloved dolphins — protecting him from
sharks. Yes, I think the whole thing was miraculous. Nothing supernatural
about it, but something about this uncanny episode speaks of God Almighty
having a hand in all of this.

An additional blessing. Elian had relatives in Miami who were more than
willing to nurse him back to health and care for him. To them Elian’s
survival was clearly and unequivocally a miracle. At age six, it is
unlikely that Elian can, as yet, sort out what happened when the boat sank
and his mother perished. As he grows older he will come face to face with
the tragedy he experienced. As a 6-year-old, he probably hopes that his
mother is still alive somewhere.

Now, enter Janet Reno, the strange twitching lady from the Department of
Injustice, who wants to send Elian back to the nightmare his mother and
stepfather tried to escape. The miracle boy, protected by dolphins, now has
to contend with the wicked witch in Washington. Instead of dolphins, Elian
is now surrounded by the Cubans of Miami, protecting him from Reno’s sharks
and Castro’s henchmen. And in the middle of all this is Juan Miguel
Gonzalez, instructed by Castro to deliver the miracle boy to him, or else.

All of which brings us to a most interesting column by Georgie Anne
Geyer, one of America’s most gifted journalists, who always manages to dig
beneath the surface for the real story behind the façade. She wrote in a
recent column:

    It is widely believed among the Cuban community in
    Miami, for instance, that the child was found, after two sun-searing days at
    sea and with sharks hovering everywhere, surrounded by protective dolphins
    and not even so much as sunburned.

    But in a recent in-depth article in the Spanish socialist
    newspaper, El Pais, one of Cuba’s greatest exiled writers, Guillermo Cabrera
    Infante, traced how Castro also is looking at the (Elian) case as a test of
    his standing with the priests, the “Babalao,” of Santeria, the originally
    African religion of large numbers of Cubans. If he is unable to regain
    control of this essentially magical child, Castro believes, that would be a
    notably bad “sign” and could even turn the Babalao against him at a time
    when he is suffering defeat after defeat on his withering island.

All I can say is “wow.” It was obvious from the start that there is
much more to the Elian story than meets the eye. For those involved, it is
fraught with religious and spiritual meaning. That is why Janet Reno’s role
as the wicked witch makes metaphysical sense. Her one-thought mind — that
Elian must be returned to his loving father as quickly as possible —
provides no room for arguing. Is it a simple inability to think beyond a
certain metaphysical barrier? Who knows? What we do know is that the fate
of Elian, like the fate of the 80 people in Waco, is in her hands. She
hasn’t learned much since Waco. But why is she so blind to the kind of life
that awaits Elian in Cuba?

The April issue of Commentary magazine has a fascinating article on
Elian. Here is the gist of the story. In early February, Rev. Kilari Anand
Paul, president of Global Peace Initiative, a pacifist organization, went to
Cuba “with an open mind and with the desire to achieve family
reunification.” This was his first trip to Cuba and he was immediately
struck by the “fear that grips everybody.” On his return to Miami, he told
El Nuevo Herald, “I have visited numerous countries that suffer oppressive
political regimes, but never have I felt the level of repression, control,
and intimidation over people that I felt in Cuba.”

Rev. Paul was unable to meet Elian’s father, but he spoke with some of
his friends. They all assured him that the father actually wanted Elian to
stay in the United States. But they said that the father was a virtual
prisoner of the government. More than one Cuban told Rev. Paul, “Return the
kid here? Are you kidding? Who would want to come back here to suffer our
shortages and lack of freedom?”

Would that the Rev. Paul could have a word with Janet Reno. But the
wicked witch has her own cauldron to stir. Is she a Santeria believer?
What is unseemly in all of this is the speed with which Reno wants to decide
the fate of this boy. What’s the hurry? It’s Castro’s need to recapture
the miracle child so that he can prove to the priests of Santeria that he is
in control, especially when it means undoing a miracle.

Elian’s nightmare — his martyrdom — will begin the moment he is handed
over to the Cuban government. Most Americans, who tolerate if not approve
of the mass murder of the unborn, won’t care. They won’t be able to
understand the difference between a miracle and a nightmare. They won’t be
able to understand what this Santeria business is all about. If they hear
about it at all, they will dismiss it as typical Caribbean nonsense, like
voodoo. Give us our cruise ships and blackjack tables and forget about this
kid. But what we do to Elian — the miracle child — will come back to
haunt us.

Samuel L. Blumenfeld is the author of eight books on education,
including “NEA: Trojan Horse in American Education, “Homeschooling: A
Parents Guide to Teaching Children,” and “Alpha-Phonics: A Primer for
Beginning Readers.” His books are available on

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