Liberty Advocates Decry Reno's Siezure of Elian
The following includes work from Linda Gorman of the Independence Institute, Objectivist philosopherWill Wilkinson, and the Libertarian Party. Ari Armstrong's aricle about the Elian raid is available at elian.html.
For Immediate Release April 26, 2000
Elian's Return Another Leftist Atrocity
By Linda Gorman
For indisputable proof of how effectively 70 years of Leftist propaganda emanating from the schools, the government, and the media can destroy the ability to think, one need look no further than the Elian Gonzalez tragedy.
The facts are as follows: Fidel Castro runs Cuba. His government is communist. As in all communist countries, the guns on the borders are aimed inward. Cubans trying to leave without permission are hunted down, killed, or imprisoned. Castro has sent helicopters to drop sandbags onto makeshift rafts crowded with people trying to escape his regime. Elian's mother, Elisabeth, tried to escape on a raft. She took Elian with her. She died. Elian survived. He now lives with relatives in Miami. Castro and the Clinton administration want him back in Cuba.
Since the Russian revolution, American Leftists have pretended that the only difference between the Western democracies and totalitarian communist regimes is that the communists provide free health care, free education, and housing for everyone. Communists, we are told, hold elections, They preserve human dignity by letting all workers have a voice in running their country. Their laws protect the innocent and their legislative bodies have high rates of grass roots participation. Their streets are safe, and their income distribution more equal. Their people are warm, friendly, and free of the excesses of Western materialism.
When Communist governments butcher millions of people we are told that all governments make mistakes and that the Western democracies are worse because they are also racist oppressors who promote inequality and oppress the weak while the Communists equally distribute wealth and power to everyone. While the Nazis trafficked in hate, seeking to murder an entire people simply because of who they were, we are supposed to believe that Communists, who do the same thing, seek only to build a society in which everyone is equal and all groups get along.
At least two generations of American students have been taught this drivel. With Leftist sympathizers controlling the curriculum, students hear little about the 100 million people killed by communist regimes in the 20th century and are as unfamiliar with Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, Harry Wu, Wei Jingsheng, Whittaker Chambers, Fredrich Hayek and Adam Smith as they are with the original intent of the Bill of Rights.
Because they are so ignorant, they have no idea of what life is like under a malevolent government with unlimited power. They do not understand the pressures that can be brought to bear, the tremendous courage it takes to speak out against the regime, and the ease with which individuals can be brought to heel.
Those who do understand know that in Cuba, all but the most heroic can be forced to say whatever Castro wants. They know that discussions of child custody laws are a farce in a regime that obeys no law, operates special forced-labor prison camps for adolescents and children, and attacks its opponents by denying their families education and jobs. Luis Fernandez, a Cuban diplomat, summed things up perfectly when he demanded Elian's return. It was required, he said, because the boy was "a possession of the Cuban government."
With the opening of various Soviet archives and the resurgence of scholarship on the evils of communism, reasonable people can no longer pretend that communist governments have any redeeming virtues. For evidence, there is The Black Book of Communism: Crimes, Terrors, and Repression. A sensation in France, it has recently been published in English and pulls no punches in its meticulous recounting of 20th century communist horrors.
But Leftists are so committed to their utopian ideal that they will do anything to divert attention from communist atrocities. Thus the sudden interest in the rights of Elian's father from a group that typically typecasts fathers as vicious brutes and child abusers. To protect the idea of a utopia that never existed, they have no qualms about condemning an innocent six-year-old to a lifetime of terror under the boot heel of a totalitarian thug.
For the record, the age categories given were those used in reporting the number of deaths from injury by firearms in the National Vital Statistics Reports, volume 47, number 19, Deaths: Final Data for 1997. They are chosen by the National Center for Health Statistics which is the source for data on gun deaths in the United States. When one has the actual data, one typically does not refer to a "study."
 Stephane Courtois, Nicolas Werth, Jean-Louis Panne, Andrzej Paczkowski, Karel Barto-ek, Jean-Louis Margolin. 1999. The Black Book of Communism, Crimes, Terror, Repression. Translated by Johathan Murphy and Mark Kramer. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, p. 663.
Tom Carter. 6 April 2000. "Envoy's remark about boy sparks uproar in Miami," The Washington Times, online edition as of 6 April 2000. http://www.washtimes.com/world/default-200046223849.htm.
This article originally appeared in the Colorado Daily (Boulder), for which Linda Gorman is a regular columnist.
Linda Gorman wrote this article for the Independence Institute, a free-market think tank in Golden, www.IndependenceInstitute.net.
This article, from the Independence Institute staff, fellows and research network, is offered for your use at no charge. Independence Feature Syndicate articles are published for educational purposes only, and the authors speak for themselves. Nothing written here is to be construed as necessarily representing the views of the Independence Institute or as an attempt to influence any election or legislative action.
The following was originally submitted to email@example.com, a list of www.wetheliving.com. It is reprinted here with permission from the author.
The Abuse of Power
by Will Wilkinson
The other day, someone asked if there was a lawyer in the house who could clarify the issues surrounding the forcible seizure of Elian Gonzalez from his uncle's home. I was hoping for a clarification myself.
Legal interpretation is often ideologically freighted. So I went into the task of trying to understand the legalities of the issue cognizant of the probable ideologically driven distortions of the laws involved. But now that I have heard Laurence Tribe and Alan Dershowitz of all people come out firmly against the legality of the raid, I am convinced that Clinton and Reno have no legal leg to stand on. I never doubted that they had no moral leg to stand on.
I was deeply troubled Saturday morning. And my ill feelings extended far beyond the specific issue about Elian. I am firmly on the side of those who oppose sending Elian back to Cuba, with his dad or anyone else, and I am disturbed by the prospect that Elian may be thrown back to the wolves of tyranny.
But more than that, I am deeply antagonized by the apparent fact that the present administration would use incredible armed force, would invade someone's home in the most violent way, in order to shift the balance of a child custody case _for no other apparent reason_ than a foreign policy agenda. Now that I am confident that the seizure was of dubious legality, I think that one must be frightened by the fact that one lives under an administration that will twist and defy the spirit and letter of the law to satisfy their personal political goals.
I am the sort who by temperament is utterly skeptical of conspiracies. But I cannot see a motivation for the raid beyond Clinton's drive to have some kind of legacy as a peacemaker with Cuba. I don't think anyone doubts the bald and craven nature of Clinton's ambition.The INS assault simply made frighteningly vivid and transparent the power the executive has to abuse people and the legal process for his ends.
Regardless of your opinion on the specifics of the Elian issue, I think Clinton's and Reno's action demands the utmost indignation. Have you heard it said that liberty requires eternal vigilance? Well, this is what that saying is about. You cannot let the administration get away with this. You cannot sanction this kind abuse of raw political power. If anything ever demanded our vigilance, this does.
WASHINGTON, DC -- Congratulations to Janet Reno: She finally managed to "rescue" a child without burning him to death.
That was the Libertarian Party's reaction to this weekend's dawn raid by heavily armed INS agents on the home of Elian Gonzalez's relatives.
"Elian Gonzalez is lucky to be alive -- since, for Attorney General Janet Reno, compassion is all too often a death sentence, and justice is just another word for no one left to kill," said Ron Crickenberger, the party's political director.
"Elian Gonzalez's mother died trying to escape from Fidel Castro. We should be grateful that Elian Gonzalez didn't die trying to escape from Janet Reno -- since Reno's last rescue attempt left 24 children dead in the inferno in Waco, Texas."
On the Saturday before Easter, a SWAT team of Immigration and Naturalization Service agents -- dressed in paramilitary uniforms and armed with MP-5 submachine guns -- kicked down the door of the home in Miami where Elian Gonzalez, the 6-year-old defector from Cuba, was staying with relatives.
The boy was taken from relatives at gunpoint, and then whisked by government jet to an Air Force base near Washington, DC, where he was reunited with his father. Reno said the armed incursion was necessary after negotiations with relatives stalled.
But, said Crickenberger, Libertarians have to ask: Was this really the only way to resolve what is ultimately nothing more than a complicated child custody dispute?
"Is this the kind of America we want: Where armed, paramilitary federal agents kick down doors in pre-dawn raids? Where excessive force seems to be the first option? Where the Justice Department can authorize such a raid without a judicial order? And where Janet Reno can place a child's life at risk -- just a trigger's pull away from sudden death -- to 'save' him from relatives who, right or wrong, seem to want the best for him?"
And another important question, said Crickenberger: Should Janet Reno be in the business of returning children to a country that our own government considers a "terrorist" nation?
"According to the State Department, Cuba is a terrorist state," he said. "Why would our government use terrorist-style tactics to return a child to a terrorist state?"
And according to Human Rights Watch, Fidel Castro's government:
In fact, said Crickenberger, "The situation is so bad that Elian's mother lost her life in a desperate attempt to escape from Cuba with her son. Should our government play any role in sending a child back to a country where he will be considered a 'possession' of the government -- and will live his life as a virtual slave to a communist tyranny?"
The Libertarian Party tends not to take sides in child custody cases, said Crickenberger, and Libertarians can disagree about the proper outcome of the Elian Gonzalez case.
"But every Libertarian would probably agree that the boy would be better off if the federal government stayed out of the case -- and allowed it to be settled by family members who love the boy, or by a family court, or by an impartial arbitrator," he said.
"And every Libertarian would probably agree that, given her track record, Janet Reno shouldn't be allowed to intervene in any case where a child is at risk -- since too many children have died already because of Janet Reno's so-called compassion."