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Tuesday, December 21, 1999

Let's See
A Letter to Five Senators from Elian Gonzales

by Clinton Fein

In a letter to President Clinton, U.S. Senate Republican leaders proposed on Monday that Congress grant American citizenship to a 6-year-old Cuban boy at the center of a politically charged custody dispute, after fishermen off the Florida coast rescued him after clinging to an inner tube for two days. He was one of 14 Cubans on a boat that capsized during an attempt to enter the United States illegally. Eleven passengers drowned, including his mother, and the boy has been staying with paternal relatives in Miami. Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott of Mississippi, Assistant Majority Leader Don Nickles of Oklahoma, and Senators Connie Mack of Florida, Paul Coverdell of Georgia and Larry Craig of Idaho signed the letter in which they asked the President to bar INS from returning Elian to Cuba before Congress considers the plan when it convenes in January. This is Elian's response!

21 December 1999

The Honorable Senators Trent Lott
Don Nickels
Connie Mack
Paul Coverdell and
Larry Craig
487 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington DC 20510

Dearest Senators :

Thank you for your kind letter to President Clinton requesting that he bar the INS from returning me to Cuba.

Given the aversion to the communist regime of Fidel Castro, I understand your reluctance to send a kid like me back to Cuba, and fully appreciate that your gestures are solely in my best interests and have nothing to do with political grandstanding or anything to do with the upcoming elections.

Now that I'm over the euphoria from my little excursion to Disneyworld and am enjoying a slight respite from your impeccably mannered press corps, I have had a moment or two to reflect upon my future and weigh in whether my mother's death by drowning to get me here was worth it in the end.

Assuming I stay, I have to ask myself what kind of future I have in the United States, and whether the freedom promised is consistent with my own ideas about freedom. My mom, may she rest in peace, died for me to be free.

In the event that I do something wrong here - perhaps as a result of the psychological trauma of losing Mom and my own near death by drowning, or in a quest to get attention once the press desert me for the next school shooting - what kind of treatment can I expect? If Nathaniel Abraham is anything to go by, I can look forward to being tried as an adult, and convicted as one too. So that definitely rules out Michigan. A jury that convicts a 13-year-old of second-degree murder is a little scary for me.

If I happen to get a girl pregnant when I grow up - masturbating isn't taught as a viable release of sexual energy for hormone-raging kids, condoms are not distributed in schools and abstinence is about as realistic as smoking dope without inhaling - I will not have the support of you Senators. From what I understand, all of you are "pro-life." But you're all "pro the death penalty". Forgive me; I'm a little confused.

I could protest. I mean that's what America is all about isn't it? Although I dare not do it in Seattle. Seems like protestors, whether peaceful activists or vandalizing thugs are treated with the same heavy handed riot control (or lack thereof) by police who appear to be ill equipped and unprepared for such things despite having advanced knowledge. Imagine a spontaneous demonstration?

Drugs are definitely a no-no. That Barry McCaffrey chap seems like a bit of a Nazi who hasn't quite figured out that the title 'Drug Czar' doesn't give him dictatorial powers like the Russian czars. Or maybe it does. No one, including you kindly senators, seems to be able to stop him, despite the magnitude and expense of his failures in both dollars and lives. Alcohol and tobacco seem to be okay in this country although they inevitably kill you, and marijuana, which can alleviate pain and suffering, is looked upon with the same disdain that Ronald Reagan showed to AIDS when it first surfaced (and ever after). And from what I hear; the current President is very fond of cigars. Although for the best cigars I'll have to probably violate trade policies and have Dad send them to me (if he'll even talk to me if I decide to stay).

New York seems like it could be fun, although the mayor who, like you guys, thought I would be kind of cool to kick around as a campaign issue football and invited me there for New Year, despises art and artists. Threats, slashing of funding to museums, polarizing of people. While his handing over of Times Square to Disney made it a lot safer for retail consumers - carbon monoxide fumes notwithstanding - he has created an army of brutal thugs in his police department that would have given Mussolini a run for his money. Amadou Diallo, Abner Louima, toilet plungers and blue walls of silence. Carpets and bags seem like a nice alternative to that when it comes to the Senate wouldn't you say senators? Rudy seems, well, a little rude.

Mississippi would be a viable option, Senator Lott. But you guys seem a little bit out of whack with regard to really basic constitutional issues. You have city councilmen hanging the Ten Commandments in City Hall while county school boards ban kids from wearing the Star of David because of some bizarre, almost-impossible-to-grasp association with gangs. Good heavens, that's almost like comparing kleptomaniacs and homosexuals.

Of course I could try Oklahoma, Senator Nichols, your state of musicals and bombs, although what if I wanted to learn about the rise of fascism or the Holocaust and dared to rent "The Tin Drum"? From what I understand, your state entitles law enforcement officials to randomly subpoena video records and then ignore that silly constitutional unwarranted-search-and-seizure provision - is it the Fourth Amendment? - by bursting into the homes of citizens and arresting them for what they watch in the privacy of their own homes. OklaNOma.

And then, Senator Mack, there's Florida - a mere 90-mile stretch from my home if you're in Key West. But despite your kind words and hospitality, there's Jeb Bush and that monstrosity they call Old Sparky. A defective electric chair that gives new meaning to the words 'cruel and unusual' but has yet to inspire the services of an electrician. If nothing else, to fix and streamline the damn thing to make executions by the state just a little more humane.

And then there are all those other little things to consider. If I grow up and decide to serve in the military, I had better be heterosexual or else I'll get bludgeoned to death in my barracks unless I lie about it. And of course if they don't do a good enough job, and leave me suffering like a vegetable, I can't call on assistance from the Doctor Kervorkian crowd, and, as luck would have it, the life-support machines - unfortunately for some - are a lot more efficient and better maintained than the electric chairs.

Then there's Georgia, Senator Coverdell. Let's see, Bowers vs. Hardwick, that makes sodomy illegal. That's not just same-sex sodomy, but heterosexual sodomy too. And Mike Bowers is the District Attorney who carried on an affair with his secretary while legislating morality and giving the green light to law enforcement officials to arrest people for what they do in the privacy of their own bedrooms. You and Senator Nichols must be friends then. Not to mention Newt Gingrich, Robert Barr and Cobb County. Even the integrity-tarnished International Olympic Committee told you guys to take a hike. Next?

There's the Communications Decency Act, there's the Child Online Protection Act, there's the Office of the Independent Council, there's George W and Al. There's Pat Buchanan and The Donald. There's Tim Russert and Maureen Dowd. There's Ted Turner and Rupert Murdoch. There's MSNBC and CNN. There's MTV and…er…MTV. There's Dr. Laura and Laura Ingraham. There's Kathy Lee Gifford and Jerry Falwell. There's Calista Flockhart and Rosie O'Donnell. There's Richard Simmons and Roger Clinton. There's OJ and Jon Benet, Diana and JFK, IPO's and Y2K…

Oh yeah..and there's the return of Monica, Linda and Columbine!

Please, Honorable Senators, send me back to Cuba.

Yours truly,
Elian Gonzalez


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