By Charley Reese. Columnist. Published in The Orlando Sentinel on April 16, 2000
A Cuban friend of mine said he was saddened to discover during the Elian Gonzalez controversy how many Americans hated the Cuban exiles.
I'm sad that he feels that way. Americans who really know the Cuban exile community don't hate its members. If you wanted to rate people on a scale of one to 10, with 10 being the most patriotic, the most self-reliant, the most industrious, the most willing to volunteer and, if necessary,
sacrifice themselves for their native and adopted countries, the Cuban exile community would be a 10-plus.
The problem is that leftist twits, who infect the American communications media and academia like body lice, are forever slandering the Cubans, depicting them as anti-democratic right-wingers or old Batista supporters or outright fascists. They routinely have accused the Cuban community
in Miami of exploiting the little boy.
Only two groups have exploited Elian Gonzalez. One is the news media who camped outside the Miami family's home, without permission or invitation, to photograph the little fellow every time he came out of the house. That is exploitation, not to mention an invasion of privacy.
The other exploiter of Elian Gonzalez has been Fidel Castro, the dictator of Cuba, whose usual attitude toward Cuban children trying to flee the island is to have his goons drown them, shoot them or put them into prison. Anybody who thinks that Castro really gives a damn about Elian is
a fool. His only purpose is to make the United States look bad.
All the Cuban community in Miami did was take into their hearts a little boy fished from the sea. They have tried to provide him with the love and support a boy who lost his mother needs. Again, it was not the Cubans who invited the news media to make a circus out of their attempts to
comfort a hurting child. But that is one of the ugly realities of the news racket as it has evolved in the United States. The press will not only exploit the heck out of someone else's pain, it will deny that it is doing so and, if possible, blame the victims.
As for those who hide their cold hearts behind the chant of "The law is very clear," I say, with a Charles Dickens character, that if consigning a 6-year-old to hell is the law, then the law is "a ass, a idiot."
As a matter of fact, when the boy's body was laid on the deck of an American fishing boat, he had reached America and should have been granted asylum. Then his custody could have been settled in a calm way in a family court. Instead the Immigration and Naturalization Service has denied
him asylum and decreed that no one could speak for him except his father in Cuba, effectively denying him his day in court. Other children who have living fathers have people appointed to speak for them in American courts fairly routinely.
But don't blame the Cuban community in Miami for the sin of not liking the American left's last remaining communist hero. They know what a crazy fiend Castro is. Many of them were initially Castro supporters until they found out the hard way that they had been deceived. Nor are they all
rightists. Many are liberal in the better sense of that word. They just don't define their liberalism as blind devotion to communist goons.
Cuban exiles saved Miami when it was in steep decline, revitalized it and made it into one of the most interesting cities in North America. They have contributed more to America than many native-born Americans can ever claim, which is probably why some native-born Americans resent them
so. They haven't lain around, sucking up welfare dollars, or made a cottage industry out of feeling sorry for themselves. They are a proud, brave people, and we are better for their presence.