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A SIN TO DEPORT ELIAN
Ayn Rand Heir Asserts Elian's Right to Remain in U.S.
By Leonard Peikoff
It would be a sin to deport Elian Gonzalez. To send a child to
rot in the prison of
Cuba for the alleged sake of his own well-being is criminal hypocrisy.
To send him there in
order to preserve his father's rights is absurdity, since there are no
parental or other rights
in Cuba. To send him there because "He needs a father, no matter what,"
is a mindless bromide.
Does he need a father who has no choice but to watch his son being
broken in mind and starved
The liberals I know want Elian deported because they regard the
difference between the
United States and Cuba as "merely a difference of political opinion,"
merely a subjective
matter of "how you define freedom." In other words, being relativists
who are statists
themselves, they find nothing objectively wrong with Cuba. And even if
Cuba does have flaws,
some of them say, so do Haiti and many other underdeveloped countries
from which people seek to
emigrate. So why the fuss about Elian? Isn't it discrimination in favor
This argument evades the difference between slavery and poverty.
True, a proper
immigration policy should not favor Cubans; but it should discriminate
of the most deserving cases from every country. I mean the pathetically
small trickle of
escapees from real dictatorships--Communist, Nazi, or other--who manage
somehow to claw their
way to our border. Can we morally shrug off victims such as these and
send them home to the
Secret Police to "wait in line" behind barbed wire? In Ayn Rand's words,
the criteria of
"dictatorship" in this context are: "one-party rule--executions . . .
offenses--the nationalization or expropriation of private property--and
Most Cubans in Miami understand firsthand these insignia of
recognize Elian's plight. But, though impassioned, they are hard-pressed
to defend him in
convincing terms. Many of them, who exalt "family values," sound
insincere in seeking to
separate a son from his father. Besides, if religion is their final
intellectual recourse, as
it is for most conservatives, Cuban or otherwise, how persuasive a case
can they make in any
debate? To neutral observers who seek logical answers to the Elian
controversy, mystic visions
are not persuasive; they are irrelevant. What Elian desperately needs on
his side is not a
defender of the faith, but an exponent of reason.
Ayn Rand taught me philosophy for 30 years. She herself had fled
Soviet Russia in the
'20s, and she knew what life was like there. The opposite of slavery,
she taught, is not merely
freedom of action, but above all its root, the freedom of thought. You
cannot be free, she
said, unless your mind is free, free to come to and express its own
conclusions without threat
or coercion, free to pursue its own profit and happiness, and free to
keep the wealth its own
efforts have created.
What she taught me, in essence, was that, despite all their
Enlightenment and the Founding Fathers were right; and that one must
defend the independence of
the individual, the inalienable rights of man, and the supremacy of
reason against all comers,
whether "friend" or enemy, kin or outsider, relativist or mystic, state
or church. A century
and a half ago, when these ideas were still the conventional wisdom in
the U.S., Elian would
have provoked no controversy; he would have been welcomed here eagerly.
Fifty years ago, by contrast, when I first met her, Ayn Rand was
the only prominent
representative of these ideas that I could find. Tragically, she is
still the only one today.
The motivation of President Clinton in this issue, besides
liberalism, is a desire to
leave a "legacy" of peace, peace pursued through worldwide appeasement
of dictators, no matter
what the human carnage to which it leads. If only the Republicans were
able to offer an
In the Elian case, as in the Microsoft case, the Justice
Department, once again, is
fighting for injustice. The only political hero to emerge is the Mayor
of Miami, no matter what
his political motives, if any. What makes him admirable is his flat-out
refusal to sanction or
abet the Administration's policy.
In the name not of Cuban nationalism, but of Americanism in its original
philosophical meaning, Elian Gonzalez must be allowed to remain here.
Let this poor boy have a
chance to live a human life. If "compassion" is one of our politicians'
chief values, as they
keep telling us, can't they show him any of it?
Leonard Peikoff, a Ph.D. in philosophy, is the founder of the Ayn Rand
Institute. The Institute
promotes the philosophy of Ayn Rand, author of Atlas Shrugged and The
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