Jewish World Review April 28, 2000 / 23 Nissan, 5760
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
04/24/00: Tinkering Again