To tell the truth, I have a suspicion about Janet Reno: that she has
a secret ambition to be known throughout the world as the person who
brought peace and harmonious relations to Latin America -- essentially
between the United States and Fidel Castro's Cuba. After years of
hostility, didn't Richard Nixon bring peace and harmonious relations
between the U.S. and Mao Tse-tung's China? And how about Britain and
Mahatma Gandhi's India? Remember, for him who is pure of heart and
seeks peace, no obstacle is too great. It goes without saying, of
course, that he whose heart is the purest of all is President Bill
Clinton, without whose explicit approval none of this bonding with Cuba
across the Florida Straits would be happening.
From the beginning Janet Reno has always reminded me of the
schoolteachers at the Edward Devotion Grammar School in Brookline,
Mass., once the home of Jack Kennedy (just so you'll know). There are
differences, of course. Attorney General Janet Reno is sentimental,
incoherent, cowardly and obtuse, whereas my grammar school teachers were
none of these things. Janet Reno, it must be remembered, earned a
principal place in our history books for her bloody resolution of the
siege of Waco. She had heard, you see, that the followers of David
Koresh were mistreating little children. For which the appropriate
punishment is apparently death by fire.
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At the beginning of this Reno affair, which in its initial phases
might possibly have escaped Fidel Castro's attention, Cuba was rather
compliant. The whole affair was only about one little boy, after all.
Was Cuba's dignity really at stake? On reflection, however, Mr. Castro
apparently decided that not only was Cuba's dignity at stake, but that
of international socialism as well. Drastic measures were called for.
It cannot have escaped Fidel's attention that Bill Clinton, in a
cautious, craven way, is trying to arrange an opening to Cuba:
additional charter flights, more visas for athletes, artists, students,
journalists. I myself have been admitted to Castro's Cuba and, in
keeping with that country's new spirit of freedom, have been followed by
Cuban intelligence agents even into hotel men's rooms. American
authorities, willing to handle the Elian Gonzalez case for a time to
accommodate enraged Miami Cubans, laid low for a few days. But it
wasn't long before Havana authorities called Elian's father to order. I
have already confessed my suspicions regarding Mr. Clinton and Miss
Reno, so I might as well let fly on Elian's father, who was so moved by
his son's predicament that he waited almost a week before flying to
Washington -- and at this writing had yet to see his son in either
Washington or Miami.
In my view there can be little doubt, judging by his
government-assigned employment, his friends, and his behavior throughout
this affair, that Mr. Gonzalez, is a low-ranking appendage to the Cuban
intelligence service. His home, which is in the same Havana
neighborhood as that of literary demigod Gabriel Garcia Marquez, has air
conditioning, whereas much of Cuba doesn't even have electricity. My
personal evidence for all this is substantial, but I'm not the least
interested in the opinions of those who have never witnessed at first
hand the operations of a police state.
Janet Reno has never struck me as being highly intelligent. She
thinks there is a bond, a "special, wonderful, sacred bond" between a
father and son, one that she intends to uphold. Her voice trembles and
her lip quivers when she even thinks of this "wonderful, wonderful" boy
and of his relationship with his wonderful, wonderful father -- an oddly
passionate position for a spinster who has had no children. The boy's
wonderful father, according to an emphatic declaration he made Saturday,
not only wants Elian to return immediately with him to Cuba, if
necessary, he has said, he wants U.S. marshals to seize him "by force,"
even if this traumatizes him. You will note that this is not Miss
Reno's opinion of Elian's loving father, declaring soulfully as she
does, "All you had to do was look at him, and listen to him, to see how
much he loves the little boy."
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(As for the wonderful, wonderful Fidel Castro, a dictator, you will
remember, Miss Reno seems quite unaware of the powers of coercion a
dictator has at his command.)
So there you have Elian's loving father, presenting an interesting
contrast to the same father as viewed by our attorney general who,
addressing her words to "history," is confident that Elian will bring
the two sides of the controversy together: Uncle Sam and Fidel Castro,
hand in hand.
Although I assume she has a law degree, Miss Reno does not seem to
know much about Cuban law. The law on "parenting" under Cuba's
present-day totalitarian constitution affirms that a child's mother and
father have some rights, indeed, but "only so long as their influence
does not go against the political objectives of the state." Children in
Cuba, furthermore, are conscripted at a young age to serve in a kind of
children's boot camp where the principles of the socialist state are
thoroughly instilled. It is a form of youthful indoctrination
previously employed by both the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany.
In the Soviet system such youngsters were called "Young Pioneers,"
leading the world into a blissful socialist future. In Nazi Germany,
less given to euphemism, they were called directly Hitler Jugend,
"Hitler Youth." It is not hard for me to imagine Janet Reno, tears of
joy in her eyes, standing at rapt attention as a beloved little nephew,
ready to serve international socialism, is indoctrinated as one of
Cuba's Young Pioneers. I suspect she would find it thrilling. This,
alas, is the fate that now seems to await young Elian Gonzalez.