ifeminists.com: A central gathering place and information center for individualist feminists.   -- explore the new feminism --
introduction | interaction | information

ifeminists.com > introduction > editorials

Rethinking Elian Gonzalez
August 23, 2006
by Tony Zizza

With stories and photos of Fidel Castro's "personal health" bombarding us 24/7, I have given some second serious thought into my own involvement in the infamous Elian Gonzalez case. Once you hear the name "Elian", how can you ever forget this six year old boy and the media rampage that started in late 1999, and came full circle more than six years ago?

Looking back, I have come to realize that in my advocacy to advance the concept of fathers' rights, I forgot to understand that young Elian was the wrong boy and the wrong case to champion in the name of American fathers' rights. We can properly state over and over and over again that fathers, and subsequently their children, are victimized far more often in family courts accross this country, than mothers are. This must stop. However, you don't start to bring media attention to a noble cause with the wrong case. I'm speaking for myself, and understand a million and one divorced fathers will come down on me. So be it.

Now, on the surface, there should not have even been a debate about returning Elian, once found floating on an inner tube in the Florida Straits, to his father. Elian's mother was deceased, and his biological father Juan Miguel Gonzalez was his last living parent. Here's the rub. Elian was not being returned to his father in Boston or Cleveland. He, a six year old boy with his whole life ahead of him, was being returned to a totalitarian regime. A Communist dictatorship that has been ruled by the same brutal man for almost a half century. For crying out loud! Personally, but without intending to do so, I was putting a social agenda above common sense and liberty. I regret this. Terribly. I should have known better.

You see, parental rights do not exist in Cuba because human rights do not exist. According to Richard Grenier, author of the April 14, 2000 worldnetdaily.com article, titled: "Holding Hands With Fidel", "The law on 'parenting' under Cuba's present day totalitarian constitution affirms that a child's mother and father have some rights indeed, but 'only so long as their influence does not go against the political objectives of the state.' Children in Cuba, furthermore, are conscripted at a young age to serve in a kind of children's boot camp where the principles of the socialist state are thoroughly instilled. It is a form of youthful indoctrination previously employed by both the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany."

I am at a lost for words for not realizing at the time of writing columns advocating for Elian to go back home with his father, that Elian was really going home to a monster by the name of Fidel Castro. The very term "fiercely" anti-Castro in reference to many of Elian's relatives now seems silly. What other way can a person who loves America address Castro? With appeasement? With sympathy? With awe? With treating a young boy like a small fish that according to Attorney General Janet Reno, "had to be returned to his father"? Perhaps Janet "Waco" Reno and Bill Clinton could have been stronger, and not caved in to Castro. Certainly, they have no earthly idea of how to act on the best interests of the child - when given an opportunity.

If Elian's father was not being used as a puppet by Castro (not in the interest of young Elian) - then why would he want Elian to live under Castro, rather than live under the American flag? Is this what a "good" parent does? Choose totalitarianism over democracy? Isn't this in and of itself, a form of child abuse? Also, why couldn't there be some form of shared custody worked out? Why couldn't Elian live here during the school year so he didn't have to be indoctrinated with Communism, and perhaps spend summers with his father in Cuba? The real question, however, and the ultimate solution, would have been for Elian's father to live with his son Elian - in America. No matter how you look at this case, there was some kind of alternative out there for Elian, rather than sending him back to Cuba where he now shares his birthdays with Fidel Castro. How sad. How wrong. How disgusting.

I don't understand why one of Elian's relatives could not apply for political asylum for him and our government could have made it stick. Elian Gonzalez deserved political asylum! The hearing on this in Atlanta in May of 2000 was a huge media event. As a fathers' rights activist, I kept thinking that the right thing to do was advocate for a boy to live with his father, no matter what. Again, I should have asked myself why was it such a stretch for his father and his family to come live in America. There were many questions about who really signed Elian's asylum papers, and is he old enough, but this is just a game of words.

The real issue at hand was, and is this: Does Elian deserve a chance to live in freedom or do fathers' rights and immigration law as constructed in America, mean he must live in a totalitarian regime - because this is where his father wants to live, and since Elian was only six years old at the time, only his biological father could sign political asylum papers? How can you call yourself a loving parent when you insist on a SWAT raid to pick your child up? Is that we call a Father of the Year in 2000? It's hard to even believe. If I believed in sleeping pills (aids) like Ambien, I'd take one so I could sleep at night.

I don't think anyone will ever forget that picture of Reno's boys in action doing the work of, well, a dictator named Castro. At that moment, we lost a piece of our soul. Ann Coulter was proven right once again by stating Elian Gonzalez was "the only immigrant liberals ever wanted to deport." Coulter writes further in "How To Talk To A Liberal" about the Elian Gonzalez case, "Elian Gonzalez was the only child liberals believed needed a father. Liberals believe that Elian's mother should have been able to abort Elian without input from the father, but that she could not give him freedom without the father's consent." The more I think about it, I believe Elian's father knew at some level where his son was going on that fateful November day. From what I understand, Elian's father knew the Miami relatives before all of this happened.

Again, no one is saying that fathers' rights to this day don't need to be better actualized and - enforced. It's just that the plight of American fathers was not the point in the Elian Gonzalez case. These days, you have to be careful what you align yourself with for what purpose, and what the consequences could be. Agenda isn't everything. Common sense is the most important currency we have to deal with each other. I made a mistake as a fathers' rights activist, (but being a fathers' rights activist in and of itself is certainly not a mistake), to try and say we were Juan Miguel Gonzalez, and he was one of us.

This doesn't hold water and is not truthful. It reminds me of the stark extremism that's out there when we talk about Andrea Yates murdering all five of her children. The issue was never justice for five murdered children (as it should have been), but rather, and only one of these two truths: Either a subjective mental illness is 100 percent to blame for the murders, or the drugs that Andrea took from time to time are 100 percent to blame. As far as agenda's go, I see some similarities between the media hoopla surrounding the Yates case and the Gonzalez case. It's not right. And when a CNN Talk Back Live survey stated the majority of Americans said Elian should be returned to his father, they should have been truthful and said: returned to his father, yes, but - under a totalitarian regime.

When I marched in Atlanta for Elian to be reunited with his father at the time of Elian's political asylum hearing on May 11, 2000, I thought that Elian's father's wishes were the only issue at hand. I thought like many fathers who were writing about Elian and his father. Archie Wortham wrote a piece for fathermag.com titled: "Elian Gonzalez: Fathers' Fight to be Important in America Continues." According to Wortham, "His father is the only one who should be making this decision. Yet, America is attempting to drive another stake in every man who is or happened to be a father. The boy should go home! A son needs his father." This is correct thinking for American fathers and their American children facing daily bias in American courts. It does not apply to a Communist tool like Elian's father, and an innocent child like Elian who now must shout "Fidel! Fidel!" during his youth, when instead, he could have lived in America.

When you punch "Elian Gonzalez" into an internet search engine, there are many articles and pictures to view. My heart sank when I checked out this web site. Everyone had an opinion about this case, and charges of all sorts when back and forth between all the parties. Again, it was an unbelievable media circus, and I just didn't "get it" at the time. I thought I did. I really did. It did not even cross my heart or mind that it was a real possibility young Elian would have to live under a totalitarian regime that people try to escape from all the time. I didn't think that through. Now, I am. Back then, I should have asked myself: "How many times do we see people from America risking their lives in inner tubes to reach - Cuba?

No, this would have messed up my belief that the only issue at hand was that since Elian's mother was deceased, he must live with his father.

And Castro.

Zizza is a freelance writer who resides in Atlanta, GA. He writes frequently about social issues.

ifeminists.com > home | introduction | interaction | information | about

ifeminists.com is edited by Wendy McElroy; it is made possible by support from The Independent Institute and members like you.