- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 3, 2000

The forcible seizing of Elian Gonzalez and his impending return to the custody of Fidel Castro is a tragic event that has also revealed the nature of American liberalism, particularly its indulgence of totalitarianism.
The root cause of the Elian Gonzalez case is the totalitarian regime of Fidel Castro, which does not allow free elections, freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of the press or free emigration. This is the policy that forced Elian's mother to flee in any craft she could find. This is the policy that has made the waters between Florida and Cuba, as dissident poet Maria Elena Cruz Varela has described them, "a cemetery without crosses."
That deadly reality has escaped mention by President Clinton and prominent liberals defending the actions of the Castro regime. Neither have the president and his supporters used the occasion to call for free elections in Cuba, or to denounce communism as a system. That is because anti-anti-communism is a driving force of American liberalism.
Whatever the brutalities and privations of communism, liberals believe, anti-communism is worse. Therefore Cuba gets a free pass, something Fidel Castro knows and exploits, playing the Clinton administration like a cheap six-string. He can imprison dissidents, torture poets, down unarmed civilian planes and sink the boats of those fleeing his regime, all in perfect safety from the wrath of American liberals, self-proclaimed champions of helpless victims and minorities. When the minority is Cuban, however, liberals' advocacy turns to loathing.
Though many arrived on these shores with nothing, Cuban-Americans have done very well without the largesse of the welfare state. They also overwhelmingly vote Republican and remain anti-communist. Since such people are not politically useful, liberals vilify them as a squad of extremists and even question their patriotism, attitudes reflected in the prestige media, dominated by liberals.
Recent portraits of the Cuban community on National Public Radio would not have been out of place in the government-controlled media of Cuba itself. CNN punctiliously refers to Fidel Castro as Cuba's "leader," and was more eager to air a speech by the dictator than statements by representatives of the Cuban-American community.
The response from CNN's Gene Randall to the picture of Elian staring down the barrel of a 9mm Heckler and Koch MP-5 submachine gun was "is this picture being overused?" Bernard Kalb claimed that the photo "lacked context," which it clearly did not. In other words, the issue was not one of civil liberties and due process raised by the use of a dangerous commando raid in the dead of night to snatch a 6-year-old. Rather, for liberals the issue was one of public relations, whether an unexpected photo might cause the armed raid to be perceived in a negative light.
Though it is no laughing matter, the defenses of Janet Reno's action recall the Monty Python sketch about the notorious gangsters Doug and Dinsdale Piranha. When a victim, Stig O'Tracy is asked whether Dinsdale nailed his head to the floor, Stig denies it. Then he is told that the police have film of Dinsdale actually nailing his head to the floor. "Pell be fair," protests Stig. "There was nothing else he could do."
These is the line taken by defenders of the raid, from Mr. Clinton to Eleanor Clift and Al Hunt, that there was no alternative. Actually there were many alternatives, including those previously agreed to by the INS, such as family court. The defenses of the raid reveal that American liberals, whatever their protestations to the contrary, are fond of armed coercion that serves partisan ends. Those ends also veto any public expression of outrage over the repression of the Castro regime, about which liberals remain silent, ignorant or both.
As exiled Cuban writer Guillermo Cabrera Infante noted in the Los Angeles Times, in Cuba Elian Gonzalez "will grow up malnourished, ignorant and with a paranoid fear of the reigning terror under which his behavior will be monitored by a ubiquitous police. Elian's life in Cuba will be a future without a future."
American liberals respond with a shrug. Be fair, they say in effect, there was nothing else Janet Reno could do. Some day Elian will realize what Cubans in Miami already know. A liberalism that indulges dictators and swoons in the face of force and injustice isn't really liberal at all.

Kenneth Lloyd Billingsley is editorial director of the Pacific Research Institute in San Francisco.

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