Clicking on banner ads enables JWR to constantly improve
Jewish World Review April 28, 2000 / 23 Nissan, 5760

George Will

George Will
JWR's Pundits
World Editorial
Cartoon Showcase

Mallard Fillmore

Michael Barone
Mona Charen
Linda Chavez
Ann Coulter
Greg Crosby
Larry Elder
Don Feder
Suzanne Fields
Paul Greenberg
Bob Greene
Betsy Hart
Nat Hentoff
David Horowitz
Arianna Huffington
Marianne Jennings
Michael Kelly
Mort Kondracke
Ch. Krauthammer
Lawrence Kudlow
Dr. Laura
John Leo
David Limbaugh
Michelle Malkin
Jackie Mason
Chris Matthews
Michael Medved
Kathleen Parker
Wes Pruden
Debbie Schlussel
Sam Schulman
Roger Simon
Tony Snow
Thomas Sowell
Cal Thomas
Jonathan S. Tobin
Ben Wattenberg
Bruce Williams
Walter Williams
Mort Zuckerman

Consumer Reports


The Raid in Little Havana -- SOME WILL RUSH TO JUDGMENT. They will say that Sen. Bob Graham, the Florida Democrat, was lied to. Recently, he made a plea, in the Oval Office, that if the government went to Elian's home to seize him, it should not do so at night. "The president of the United States," says Graham, "made that commitment to me that there would be no taking of this child at night." But whether the president lied depends on what the definition of "night" is.

Anyway, Eric Holder, deputy attorney general, says the paramilitary operation was "done professionally." So are a lot of burglaries, but Holder is right about the INS agents' professionalism--why, the one agent's finger was at least half an inch from the trigger.

One bit of intelligence that supposedly justified the assault--"dynamic entry" is the term of art--on the house was the possibility that there might be weapons inside. Considering that 40 percent of American households have guns, it is notable that the assaulters managed to hit a house that did not have any.

However, here are a few questions that should be explored in congressional hearings about these warriors whose Omaha Beach was a bungalow in Little Havana:

Is "dynamic entry" justified whenever the government has some business to conduct with an American household and suspects that occupants of the household may be exercising their Second Amendment right to own a gun? Or was there something else that particularly alarmed authorities about Lazaro Gonzalez's little house, which bristled with . . . toys?

What was it about the behavior of the Gonzalez family over the past five months that justified the government's conclusion that the family lives by the Clinton standard? (Remember the defense a Clinton aide once made of him: "He has kept the promises he meant to keep.") That is, what justified the judgment that the family would not honor its pledge to open the door to INS agents if they came like civilians, in daylight, and asked for Elian?

Granted, in such an event there might have been crowd control work for the Miami police outside the house. But is one part of government justified in making nighttime assaults on homes in order to spare another part of government work?

Government and media did much to vilify the family before the paramilitary assault on it. A subtext of the Elian affair has been a tendency of many political and media people to render harsher judgments about Cuban Americans than about the dictator who drove them to America. However, Castro has always had fans.

When Jean-Paul Sartre, French philosopher and Stalinist, made a pilgrimage to Cuba shortly after Castro seized power, Castro squired him around. At a roadside stand they were served warm lemonade. Castro "growled" (Sartre's approving description) that the warm lemonade "reveals a lack of revolutionary consciousness." The waitress shrugged, saying the refrigerator was broken. Castro replied, "Tell your people in charge that if they don't take care of their problems, they will have problems with me."

Enthralled, Sartre later wrote: "This was the first time I understood--still quite vaguely--what I called 'direct democracy.'

Between the waitress and Castro, an immediate secret understanding was established. She let it be seen by her tone, by her smiles, by a shrug of her shoulders, that she was without illusion."

Cuba still has "direct democracy": Cubans have no real elections (although on Sunday, during a pause in celebrating what he called the "shared victory" of the United States and Cuba, Castro "voted"), but they still can shrug their shoulders. And Castro still usefully causes some people to reveal their strange political views.

The farcical National Council of Churches has played its familiar role as friend of leftist tyrannies. And now the nation knows that there are people in public life and the media not unlike the man whom voters in the South Bronx have put into Congress. When Rep. Jose Serrano was asked three times on television "Is Cuba a free country?" his three answers were: "It's a sovereign country," "It's a country with a different system than ours," "I don't know. . . . I don't live there." Asked if Cuba allows freedom of speech, he said: "Sure."

Castro has given America two benefits. He has caused many in public life, and especially in the media, to reveal the extent to which they favor such "shared victories." The other benefit America has received from Castro is the splendid Cuban American community which, as immigrants often do, has a livelier appreciation than many native-born Americans do of American values and their negation.

Comment on JWR contributor George Will's column by clicking here.


04/24/00: Tinkering Again
04/17/00: A Judgment Against Hate
04/13/00: Tech- Stock Joy Ride
04/10/00: What the bobos are buying
04/06/00: A must-read horror book
04/03/00: 'Improving' the Bill of Rights
03/30/00: Sleaze, The Sequel
03/27/00: How new 'rights' will destroy freedom
03/23/00: Death and the Liveliest Writing
03/20/00: Powell is Dubyah's best bet
03/16/00: Free to Be Politically Intense
03/13/00: Runnin', Gunnin' and Gambling
03/09/00: And Now Back to Republican Business
03/06/00: As the Clock Runs Out on Bradley
03/02/00: Island of Equal Protection
02/28/00: . . . The Right Response
02/24/00: Federal Swelling
02/22/00: Greenspan Tweaks
02/17/00: Crucial Carolina (and Montana and . . .)
02/10/00: McCain's Distortions
02/10/00: The Disciplining of Austria
02/07/00: Free to Speak, Free to Give
02/02/00: Conservatives in a Changing Market
01/31/00: America's true unity day
01/27/00: For the Voter Who Can't Be Bothered
01/25/00: The FBI and the golden age of child pornography
01/20/00: Scruples and Science
01/18/00: Bradley: Better for What Ails Us
01/13/00: O'Brian Rules the Waves
01/10/00: Patron of the boom
01/06/00: In Cactus Jack's Footsteps
01/03/00: The long year
12/31/99: A Stark Perspective On a Radical Century
12/20/99: Soldiers' Snapshots of the Hell They Created
12/16/99: Star-Crossed Banner
12/13/99: Hubert Humphrey Wannabe
12/09/99: Stupidity in Seattle
12/06/99: Bradley's most important vote
12/03/99: Boys will be boys --- or you can always drug 'em
12/01/99: Confidence in the Gore Camp
11/29/99: Busing's End
11/22/99: When We Enjoyed Politics
11/18/99: Ever the Global Gloomster
11/15/99: The Politics of Sanctimony
11/10/99: Risks of Restraining
11/08/99: Willie Brown Besieged
11/04/99: One-House Town
11/01/99: Crack and Cant
10/28/99: Tax Break for the Yachting Class
10/25/99: Ready for The Big Leagues?
10/21/99: Where honor and responsibility still exist
10/18/99: Is Free Speech Only for the Media?
10/14/99: A Beguiling Amateur
10/11/99: Money in Politics: Where's the Problem?
10/08/99: Soft Thinking On Soft Money

© 2000, Washington Post Writer's Group