Breaking News & Views for the Progressive Community
We Can't Do It Without You!  
     
Home | About Us | Donate | Signup | Archives
   
 
   Featured Views  
 

Printer Friendly Version E-Mail This Article
 
 
Welcom, Elian, to the Land of Hypocrisy by Bob Wieder
Published on Friday, February 4, 2000 in the San Francisco Chronicle  
Welcome, Elian, to the Land of Hypocrisy
by  Bob Wieder
 

THE SUBJECT OF Elian Gonzalez has been worked and spun and written to death. To write any more about it would do little more than classify the writer among all those who have exploited this kid to their own purposes. And believe me, qualifying for the same list as Indiana Congressman Dan ``Let's subpoena the lad!'' Burton is about as smarmy as you can feel without committing a sex crime.

Nevertheless, Sen. Connie Mack, R-Fla., said what he said, and it truly deserves some comment. Mack wants to make young Elian a U.S. citizen, to enable him to evade what Mack repudiates as ``archaic, confusing and hard-to-understand immigration law.'' Ideally, Mack said, ``you go away from being focused on the law, to being focused on what's best for the boy.''

There's something about the sound of a U.S. senator disdaining, and maneuvering to thwart, a body of law that ought to make the hair on your neck rise. Here's a guy who helps make the laws, and look how seriously he takes them. What a commercial for the American way. Welcome, Elian, to a world where the rules are just window dressing.

The funny thing is, Sen. Mack formerly took the sanctity of the law quite seriously. I'm going to go out on a limb and guess that if I had a dollar for everyone who heard the good senator opine during the impeachment proceedings that no one, not even a president, is above the law, I could refurnish my house. So much for that.

Obviously, there is hypocrisy afoot here. But hypocrisy is virtually a universal condition. What's more worrisome is that expediency and political necessity are afoot here. A significant segment of Mack's constituency seemingly exists only to hate, curse, and bedevil Fidel Castro. Their votes are awarded exclusively to politicians who openly embrace those priorities. Mack can do the math.

And once again we see why the single-issue zealot is the most dangerous creature on the American political landscape. Because the zealot would have you and I and Congress and the nation wipe its nose with any law that got in the way of the zealot's specific agenda.

It doesn't really matter what the issue is -- Cuba, the environment, guns, homosexuality, the Confederate flag: the point is that the cause trumps the law, whether it's immigration law (Cuba), search and seizure law (drugs), civil rights law (gays) or personal privacy law (abortion). And woe betide any candidate who disagrees. But hey, it gets worse.

Because not only does zealotry reject the rule of law, it subverts the democratic electoral process with litmus-test politics. It selects leaders based not on capability or qualifications, but on sloganeering. Instead of skill or statesmanship, it rewards call- and-response. A parrot could deliver the stump speech.

Single-issue zealotry demands, in Mack's perceptive words, leaders who ``go away from being focused on the law to being focused on what's best for the boy.'' Or for family values. Or the movement. Or the church. Or the race.

Alas, when you go away from being focused on the law, you go away from what separates the United States from oligarchies, dictatorships, police states and other law-indifferent systems. This is especially ominous when you're a career legislator. You are on some very thin ice, Sen. Mack, and unfortunately we're all on it with you, and we'll thank you to not go around stamping your feet with zealous righteousness for political effect. If the law is so inconvenient and irritating to you and your obsessive constituency, please, don't ``go away from being focused'' on it. Just go away.

As for young Elian, it's hard to believe that what's best for him, or for anyone, is to grow up in a country where people like Connie Mack and Dan Burton are empowered to write the laws. But that seems to be the best offer we can come up with. Sorry, kid.

El Cerrito free-lance writer Bob Wieder issues an open invitation to Elian Gonzalez to crash at his place.

###

2000 San Francisco Chronicle

Printer Friendly Version E-Mail This Article
 
     
 
 

CommonDreams.org
Breaking News & Views for the Progressive Community.
Independent, non-profit newscenter since 1997.

Home | About Us | Donate | Signup | Archives

To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good.