Someone has finally hit on the real point of the Elián Gonzalez
debate. Describing the Cuban form of government, the conservative columnist
Maggie Gallagher wrote a bluntly matter-of-fact sentence that no liberal
would write: “If Castro wants you dead, you are dead.”
That puts the blame for this mess squarely where it belongs. If Fidel
Castro’s shoreline patrols had been doing their job, Elián
would have been dead months ago and we’d never have heard of
him. He’d be one more nameless victim of Communism.
Yet Castro, with the support of American liberal opinion, claims the
moral high ground in this case. He charges that Elián has been “kidnapped” by
the United States and he wants him back, as the owner of a fugitive
slave might demand the return of his property. He offers no assurance
that Elián will be safe in Cuba, let alone that he will be free
to leave later.
Nor would Bill Clinton dream of embarrassing Fidel by asking him for
such assurance. That would amount to a renunciation of his precious
right to rule as a Communist, which means treating emigration as a
capital crime. And far be it from Clinton to blame Castro for the deaths
of those — Elián’s mother among them — who
were trying to escape Cuba.
After all, Cuba is a Communist state. In 1933 the United States conferred
legitimacy on Communism when it extended diplomatic recognition to
the Soviet Union, until then an international pariah regime.
If Communism is a legitimate form of government, under Castro as under
Stalin, it has the right to claim the lives, labor, and property of
its subjects. It has the right to kill them at its discretion, particularly
if they try to escape. It owes them nothing, including protection against
arbitrary arrest and execution. Castro’s patrol boats have killed
many people on the spot for attempting to flee Cuba; Elián Gonzalez
may yet die that way.
Writing in the Wall Street Journal, the Cuban novelist Alberto Montaner,
who now lives in Spain, recalls a 1994 incident in which a Cuban patrol
boat killed 10 children and 22 adults trying to escape aboard a tugboat.
Castro “didn’t even allow the families to bury the bodies
returned by the sea,” Montaner notes. We have no idea how many
others have met the same fate, since the Cuban press doesn’t
publicize such stories.
That kind of power, not Marxist mumbo-jumbo about the “labor
theory of value” or “the class struggle,” is the
essence of Communism. Ask any refugee. But of course liberals regard
refugees from Communism with suspicion and scorn. In their minds, refugees
from Castroland don’t seek freedom, flee persecution, or hate
tyranny. (When was the last time you heard a liberal call Communism “tyranny”?)
No, they are greedy members of a dispossessed ruling class, “landed
oligarchs” and such, who come to this country out of purely venal
motives. A letter to the New York Times calls Elián’s
mother “cruel and reckless” for the risk she took.
Liberals just can’t get mad at Fidel. Their indignation is reserved
for the Cuban community in Miami that passionately opposes sending
Elián back to Cuba. After all, the Cuban “leader” (he
is never a “strongman” or “dictator” in our
liberal media) is still a progressive hero. He has created the kind
of society progressives everywhere dream of. If it isn’t quite
the “worker’s paradise,” a lot of the blame for Cuba’s
misery goes to the U.S. embargo, imposed by politicians who “pander” to
those “fanatically anti-Castro” Cubans in Florida. (We
must never pander to ethnic groups!)
If you like government, you’ll love Cuba. The era of big government
hasn’t ended there. The island is blessedly free of the “anti-government
mentality” liberals deplore here. There is no habeas corpus;
no free exercise of religion; no freedom of speech and press; no right
to keep and bear arms; no protection against being deprived of life,
liberty, and property without due process of law; no limited or constitutional
But there is plenty of equality in Cuba. Every Cuban is equally subject
to the will of Fidel. And if Elián is sent back, the next time
Fidel wants Elián dead, Elián is dead. ¡Viva la
Copyright © 2011 by the Fitzgerald
Griffin Foundation. All rights reserved. This column was published originally
by Griffin Internet Syndicate on April 4, 2000.
Joe Sobran was an author and a syndicated columnist. See bio
and archives of some of his columns.
Watch Sobran's last TV appearance on YouTube.
Learn how to get a tape of his last speech
during the FGF Tribute to Joe Sobran in December 2009.
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