An Inclusive Litany

5/8/00

Journalistic rules against smearing entire ethnic groups have been at least temporarily suspended.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch said that efforts on the part of Cuban-Americans to keep Elián González in the United States represented "mob rule," and that demonstrators have a "blindingly obsessive hatred of Fidel Castro." The San Francisco Chronicle referred to the peaceful demonstrators near the home of Elián's Miami relatives as a "racket of rabble rousers" and "shouting street mobs." The Seattle Times editorialized that Elián should not be "a trophy to be paraded around by zealots." Syndicated columnist Mark Russell refers to "the crazy Cubans in Miami."

Criticizing Al Gore's decision to break with the Clinton administration's efforts to return the boy to Cuba, Pete Waldmeir of the Detroit News had this to say: "If he'd cave in to a bunch of wackos just because they hint at civil disobedience if they don't get their way, what would Gore do as president if some Third World nut case got in his face in a real crisis?" Sounding a distinctly nativist note, Indiana's Fort Wayne Journal Gazette criticized politicians of both parties for not having "the guts to tell the most obnoxious Cuban immigrants that if they don't like it, they can go back to where they came from."

Writing in the New York Times, Anthony Lewis asks "Are we going to be governed in this country by law or by mob?" Also in the Times, David Rieff, author of The Exile: Cuba in the Heart of Miami, said that the "most extreme and fanatical elements in the Cuban exile community" want "to defy both the United States and common-sense morality." Miami, says Rieff, is "an out-of-control banana republic within the American body politic."

Speaking on the "McLaughlin Group," Eleanor Clift offered up the following: "Frankly, for a community which fled a dictatorship under Batista, they have come over here, and now they are trying to set up their own dictatorship." After another guest pointed out that most Cubans fled Castro, not Batista, Clift continued: "Yes, they fled Castro, but they seem to enjoy living under a dictatorship. And my point is they are establishing their own dictatorship in this country!"

When asked what effect publication of the famous photo of Elián being removed by U.S. marshals at gunpoint might have, James Warren, Washington bureau chief of the Chicago Tribune, said: "It will ignite all the crazies...." Warren said he would argue against front-page coverage in his paper of "the crazy family running around here all day and bitching on television." Cuban-Americans, said Thomas Friedman of the New York Times, believed "they could get away with kidnapping Elián. America is a lot better off today because Janet Reno taught them otherwise." The New York Daily News expressed relief that the boy had been removed from "the Miami mob scene," safe from "anti-Castro fanatics" and relatives who "used him so shamelessly." According to the St. Petersburg Times, "If Elián's Miami relatives had cared more about the boy's welfare than in using him as a political trophy in the propaganda war against Fidel Castro, they would have sent him back to his father weeks ago." Elián, the Times continued, "was manipulated and brainwashed by his Miami relatives... [who had] abused this child long enough."

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