Jared Taylor, American Renaissance, June 2000
The absurd flap over what to do with Elián González has been publicized, analyzed, and dramatized nearly to death. But the saturation coverage has generally missed the most significant aspect of the struggle: What it says about the irreconcilable racial and ethnic divisions in Miami and the rest of the country. This exhausting, expensive, no-end-in-sight battle arises out of the very “diversity” that is supposed to be America’s great strength. It shows that Americans, like people everywhere else, think with their blood. It shows that when the chips are down Cuban-Americans are Cubans, not Americans.
To begin with, opinion over what to do with the boy splits starkly along racial lines. A newspaper poll of Miami-Dade County residents found 83 percent of Cuban-Americans want young González to stay in America. Seventy-six percent of non-Hispanic whites want to send him back to Cuba, as do an overwhelming 92 percent of blacks. Non-Cuban Hispanics are more sympathetic towards their fellow Latinos, with 55 percent saying the boy should stay.
Whites and blacks who live in Miami are considerably more likely than whites and blacks in the rest of the country to want to send Elián home. This is because they deal with Cubans all the time, which makes them less rather than more likely to support their interests. It is a universal rule: the more real contact groups have with each other the worse their relations.
The huge number of blacks, in particular, who want to give the boy back to his father does not represent love of family so much as resentment of Cubans. Miami blacks are unhappy that Cubans scrambled up over their backs and now run the place. Cubans are also harder to hustle and intimidate than whites. “We have had more problems with Cubans in power than with whites,” complains Bishop Victor Curry, president of the Miami-Dade County NAACP. Blacks also resent the fascination for one six-year-old Cuban when no one cares about the thousands of black Haitians bounced back to their miserable homeland every year. They complain — mistakenly — that the U.S. government would crush open ethnic resistance if it were mounted by blacks.
Cubans have vowed not to forget what blacks have been saying. “People will pay for this,” warns Miami businessman and activist, Ramon Suarez-Del Campo. “When black politicians come to Cuban politicians asking for favors or some help in the future they are going to say, ‘Where were you for Elián?’”
Whites were unnerved as their Cuban-run city seemed to secede temporarily from the Union. In March, the mayor of Miami-Dade County, Alex Penalas, said his police force would not cooperate if the feds came to take the boy away, and all but predicted violence if they tried. Miami Mayor Joe Carollo also promised that the local police would not cooperate.
When the INS finally struck, the aftermath said a great deal about Cuban-“Americans.” The feds gave Miami Police Chief William O’Brien (no Cuban, he) advance warning about the operation. This was because city officers had been standing round-the-clock guard at the González house, controlling protesters, and there was no telling what they would do if federal agents suddenly burst on the scene, guns drawn. Chief O’Brien sent the number-two man in his department to ride with the INS and reassure officers on the scene that the operation was on the up and up — but he didn’t tell Cuban officials about the raid ahead of time. He knew they would probably have tried to put enough protesters around the González house to thwart the snatch. Cubans were furious over the boy’s removal and rioted in their frustration. They bayed for Chief O’Brien’s head which, of course, they got. To no one’s surprise, the new chief, Raul Martinez, is Cuban.
A few wags have noted that the U.S. has not seen such fierce defiance of federal power since the days when white Southern governors blocked school integration. This, though, is not a case of states’ rights but national rights.
The people tramping the streets of Little Havana may be American citizens but they are Cubans-in-exile through and through. That is why they wave the Cuban flag rather than the American flag, and sing the Cuban national anthem, not “The Star Spangled Banner.” In today’s America, no one seems to think it odd that keeping the boy in the United States is a show of Cuban, not American patriotism. In some cases, it went even further. In the emotions after the raid, Cubans burned the American flag and flew it upside down.
This actually roused a few natives. An April 29 “Pro-American” rally in South Dade drew a mostly-Anglo crowd waving American flags for a change, and carrying signs that read: “Stop the Banana Republic,” and “This is America. Speak English.” One man told a reporter he had said to his wife, “We’ve got to get out of this place because those Cubans are totally out of control.” The rally, publicized by word of mouth, drew 2,500 people but the media mostly ignored this uncharacteristic stirring of white discontent.
“Blood is a very special kind of sap,” Göethe once observed, and the sap has been running high at the other end of the country, too. Last July, the American women’s soccer team faced China in the Rose Bowl for the World Cup final. The Chinese team was from the Communist mainland, whereas most Chinese-“Americans” are from Hong Kong and Taiwan. The American women were playing a foreign opponent and the Chinese-“Americans” were U.S. citizens. It didn’t matter; they rooted passionately for the Chinese team.
“There are political differences, but because the team is Chinese, that’s all we think about,” explained Louis Wong, a 27-year-old Chinatown news vendor. “I’m a U.S. citizen, but I’m Chinese,” pointed out businessman Edward Chang. Of course. What could be more natural?
These days it is no longer permitted to wonder how various “Americans” would react to a real crisis with a foreign country, to something more important than a little boy or a soccer game. America is just a place on the map, after all, with nice welfare benefits and a useful blue passport. When it really matters, you can always go back to being Chinese — or Cuban or Mexican or Haitian or Filipino.