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Jewish World Review Jan. 10, 2000 /3 Shevat, 5760

Thomas Sowell

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The Cuban boy

http://www.jewishworldreview.com -- A HUMAN TRAGEDY is unfolding before our eyes as a little Cuban boy's life is being ground up by the wheels of the government bureaucracy. Some are trying to depict this as an issue of parental choice. But this boy, like everyone else, has two parents.

We cannot know what his father really believes because he lives in a totalitarian dictatorship, where crossing Castro can mean big trouble down the road, long after the TV cameras have gone home. However, we do know, in the most painfully certain way, what Elian Gonzalez's mother believed, because she put her life on the line to try to get her son to freedom.

Why should her clear and courageous decision carry less weight than the statements of a separated and remarried father, speaking in Cuba with a sword of Damocles hanging over his head? Let's talk reality, not some abstract free choice that does not exist.

Even if the father's wishes are to be considered decisive, why not let those wishes be expressed freely, in a free country, by having the father come to Miami -- and bring his family with him, so that there will be no hostages left back in Cuba?

Many of those who are arguing most vehemently for sending the boy back, in the name of parental rights, have no track record of concern for parental rights in the United States. Here are the social engineers -- the people who want boys given condoms against their parents' wishes and girls given abortions behind their parents' backs -- telling us that parental rights are sacred, even when exercised under the duress of a Communist tyranny. Give me a break!

What this is really all about is the decades-long attempts of the left to get us to cozy up to Castro. They cannot admit, perhaps even to themselves, what jackasses they have been apologizing for this despot, who holds a whole nation in captivity, and plays with their lives as if they were guinea pigs for his egotistical experiments.

Who is this man to tell his fellow human beings that they cannot leave if they want to? And where are the great humanitarians in America, whose hearts bleed for criminals and vagrants, when it comes to a little boy whose mother sacrificed her life to get him to freedom?

The Clinton administration is not about to offend Castro and lose the political support of the liberal left. If they have to sacrifice a little boy for the sake of politics, they are as willing to do that as they have been to sacrifice other people and other principles.

Fortunately, the Cuban Americans in Miami will not let the American people's conscience forget little Elian Gonzalez. They may even remind the politicians in the only way those inside the Beltway understand, with their votes.

Congress has in its power the right to pass a law granting Elian Gonzalez American citizenship. If his relatives succeed in getting the Immigration and Naturalization Service's decision tied up in courts until Congress can act, would the INS then dare to deport a little American citizen?

This whole episode is only the latest in a long series of episodes, throughout this century, where the political left has blindly ignored the human tragedies created by despots whose rhetoric they fancied. First it was Lenin and Stalin, whose bloody deeds were depicted as "the growing pains" of a new society and excused with the remark that "You can't make omelettes without breaking eggs."

The next great enchantment with distant despots was with Mao, who was romanticized while millions under him died. Then it was Castro's turn to be the poster boy.

There may be some ritual regrets expressed at some of the repressive aspects of these totalitarian regimes but, in the end, the romantic vision triumphs over anything so mundane as morality. If nothing else, the left has staked too much on the notion that Communism is some obsession of the right to admit what a horror it really is or their own complicity through apologetics.

Around the world, literally millions have fled the regimes that our left-wing intelligentsia find so attractive from a distance. The desperation that would lead so many human beings to risk their lives and the lives of their children somehow never really registers with those who talk "compassion" so glibly.

Will little Elian Gonzalez be the latest of the eggs to be broken to make some despot's omelettes?


JWR contributor Thomas Sowell, a fellow at the Hoover Institution, is author, most recently, of The Quest for Cosmic Justice.

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