It Takes a Pillage
by Ron Capshaw, May 7, 2000
"It was always at night--the arrests invariably happened at night. The sudden jerk out of sleep, the rough hand shaking your shoulder, the lights glaring in your eyes, the ring of hard faces around the bed. In the vast majority of cases there was no trial, no report of arrest. People simply disappeared, always during the night." --George Orwell, Nineteen Eighty-Four
Sound familiar? On Saturday April 22, 2000, It happened here. In the dead of night government troops invaded a private home and kidnapped a 6 year old boy. Description fails me, so I will again resort to Orwell: "The Yard seemed to be full of men....the room was full of solid men in black uniforms with iron-shod boots on their feet and truncheons in their hands."
The prophet of 20th century totalitarianism, the author of a vision so terrible that one reader hoped that "he would never have to read such a book again," failed to predict Saturday's specifities. Rather than a cowering adult, Winston Smith, the government troops attacked a small child. Rather than truncheons, they bore machine guns. But they lived up to Orwellian form. Despite the garbled newspeak coming from a complacent media, it is apparent that the troops did not have a search warrant. It is also apparent that they knew ahead of time that the family did not have guns. But they are our troops, so we do not question their practices. They are our boys, not the fist of the state.
Orwell once called the English a sleepwalking people, meaning that they would not realize the totalatarian threat until it was too late. We are too, if the polls are any indication. But we are making some interesting noises while we sleep. It is apparent from the pro-Clinton calls to talkshows, that the callers are supportive because they are (a) pro-police and (b) proponents of family values, particularly fathers' rights.
I did not realize Juan Miguel was a member of the promise-keepers.
Huey Long once said that if fascism came to America, it would be under the guise of Americanism. Long's statement should be amended to read "family values." Fascist tactics have come to America but they have been carefully sugar-coated with "family values." It is OPERATION REUNIFICATION, not OPERATION SNATCH-AND-GRAB or some other militaristic title. It is not machine guns but barbecues and quality time. It is as if Dan Quayle and Himmler had a child.
Read between the lines on the polls and you will see that Americans view this as a normal custody issue. But if that is so why were goverment troops used? Is this normal procedure for a divorce case? Or is it a political asylum case? If that is so, our government is not on the side of the angels. Ellian has been kidnapped by our government and placed in a national security cocoon. Inside this cocoon lurk Cuban intelligence officers, already brandishing syringes no doubt. Elian's only presence comes to us courtesy of photographs. I suppose that is better than a newspeak telescreen. Perhaps we are not at the level of Cuba yet. But there is no press scrutiny and there has been no trial for the boy. The lawyers selected for him by the 11th court of appeals cannot get to him.
But perhaps we do not care about due process anymore or letting the courts follow their usual procedure or the fourth amendment. The Clinton adminstration certainly doesn't. But I really can't blame him. The courts put him through months of hell. And democracy is a messy process, not always subject to the outcome rulers want. But force can always deliver. And on April 22, it did.
And although daylight has stubbornly returned, we are still in the dead of night and sleepwalking happily through it.