Compassionate Liberalism: For a Picture of It Being Applied to Elian Gonzalez, See the Cover of This Magazine

By Will, George F. | Newsweek, May 1, 2000 | Go to article overview

Compassionate Liberalism: For a Picture of It Being Applied to Elian Gonzalez, See the Cover of This Magazine


Will, George F., Newsweek


The Clinton administration, which thinks it takes a village to raise a child, knows that a masked SWAT-type team with battering ram, automatic weapons and pepper spray suffices to snatch a child, terrified, in a predawn raid. But Elian was fortunate. The last time Janet Reno--one of the worst attorneys general in American history and certainly the most lethal--inflicted her caring on children, they were incinerated. Besides, the government, practicing compassionate liberalism and heeding the advice of its latest batch of "experts," had on its getaway plane some Play-Doh. Kneading it is supposed to ease a child's stress.

A few days before the paramilitary operation against Lazaro Gonzalez's home, one of Reno's experts, a pediatrician with a long record of crackpot leftism, came--without meeting Elian--to the convenient (for Reno) conclusion that Elian needed to be quickly "rescued" from "psychological abuse" at the hands of his relatives. Fear of child abuse was Reno's excuse for launching what became the Waco inferno.

Reno's boss, a perjurer, suborner of perjury, obstructor of justice (when is that disbarment hearing?), set the stage for government violence against Elian's relatives. Venting his impatience with the relatives, Bill Clinton, that stickler for legality, said: "The rule of law has got to be upheld. If we don't do it here, where do we stop?" The man has brass, but for the record: Lazaro Gonzalez had broken no law. The fact that the INS had decreed that he no longer had custody of Elian imposed no duty on him to go anywhere to surrender Elian. The INS was always free to knock on Gonzalez's door. The INS preferred to smash the door.

A climate conducive to such disgraceful government behavior was created by strange journalism, the implication of which was that Elian's mother must have been demented to risk, and lose, her life in order to get Elian out of Cuba. Peter Jennings mixed exasperation and hauteur about the relatives' reluctance to speed Elian back to totalitarianism: "Once again the government has failed to get the kind of cooperation from the relatives that might allow the case of this young boy to end in a civilized manner that is best for him." Katie Couric resorted to archness: "Some suggested over the weekend that it's wrong to expect Elian Gonzalez to live in a place that tolerates no dissent or freedom of political expression. They were talking about Miami." The New York Times disdained Miami as a "banana republic" and used a headline to express the obtuseness of Cuban-Americans: COMMUNISM STILL LOOMS AS EVIL TO MIAMI CUBANS. Still. Eleanor Clift decided communism is merely a "lifestyle": "To be a poor child in Cuba may in many instances be better than being a poor child in Miami and I'm not going to condemn their lifestyle so gratuitously." NEWSWEEK reported that although Elian's prospects in Cuba would be "limited," Cuba's lifestyle has virtues: "In some ways young Elian might expect a nurturing life in Cuba, sheltered from the crime and social breakdown that would be part of his upbringing in Miami. …

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