The Magazine

Bloody Nonsense

The Elian case reveals liberals as biological determinists

May 8, 2000, Vol. 5, No. 32 • By DENNIS PRAGER
Widget tooltip
Single Page Print Larger Text Smaller Text Alerts

SINCE ELIAN GONZALEZ was rescued on Thanksgiving Day 1999, most liberals and many conservatives have been certain about what to do with this boy whose mother died trying to bring him to America: Send him back to his father in Cuba.

For the record, I acknowledged from the outset that, all things being equal, a child who loses his mother should be with his father. But from the beginning, I also rejected the certitude of those demanding that Elian be sent back to Cuba. Did the mother's dying to bring Elian to freedom count for nothing? Were we really prepared to send a child to a parent in a totalitarian state before knowing what that parent really wanted? Without ever meeting the father on free soil, from where did the certainty derive that he was a fit father -- after all, he hadn't been married to Elian's mother in Elian's lifetime, and the boy's custodial parent had been his mother. How could anyone be certain that the father did not want his son to escape Cuba? Finally, once the father did not come for his son for months, and Elian began bonding with relatives in Miami, especially with a surrogate mother, shipping this boy to his absentee father in a country he could never return from seemed less and less morally justified.

In light of all these questions, why did nearly all liberals advocate sending the child to a father about whom they knew nothing and to a place to which no child should have to be returned?

One reason was the post-1960s liberal hatred for anti-Communists. While few liberals actually praise communism, ever since the Vietnam War, liberals have fought anti-communism with much greater zeal than they have fought communism. There were two major cold wars. One was between the United States and the Soviet Union, and the other was between anti-Communists (mostly conservatives) and anti-anti-Communists (nearly all liberals). Liberal hatred of anti-Communists could be seen these past months in the liberal loathing of Cuban-Americans. Whereas liberals and Democrats usually worship the ground American minorities walk on, they have only contempt for Cuban-Americans -- because of that community's anti-communism.

The other reason for liberals' passion in this matter is less obvious but no less deep. Contemporary liberalism tends to attach enormous importance to blood ties.

This is illustrated by the attitude of virtually every liberal organization toward adoption, an institution that is living proof that love and values are infinitely more important than blood. The feminist and pro-choice movements are generally hostile to adoption -- they see it as undermining birth mothers' "natural" right to keep their children, and they fear that encouraging adoption discourages pregnant women from having abortions. And social workers and other "child protection" agents, nearly all of whom are liberal, do everything possible to discourage adoption.

In December 1999, ABC television's John Stossel devoted his weekly special to the difficulties child welfare professionals place in the way of couples wishing to adopt children. The next day on my radio show he told me that his own producer had refused to produce that show. Why? "Because she is a liberal," a member of a group, Stossel explained, that values blood relations and therefore usually disdains adoption.

Compounding liberals' preoccupation with blood is their preoccupation with race. Liberalism holds a belief heretofore associated most visibly with Nazism -- the identification of race with culture. Thus, it places enormous importance on biological "heritage," deeming it imperative, for example, that foreign-born adopted children be immersed in their racial/ethnic group's culture (though never their birth parents' religion).

Liberalism's commitment to blood ties is so deep that liberals in child welfare work have led the movement to return children to abusive biological parents and have so strongly opposed interracial adoption that it can fairly be said that many social workers actually prefer a child to have no parents than parents of a different race.

This is why you will so often hear references by news people to Juan Miguel Gonzalez as Elian's "biological father": That fact is decisive to them, even though they know nothing about him or his relationship with Elian. Yet, I strongly suspect that if Juan Miguel had been Elian's adoptive father, liberal passion on the father's behalf would have been dramatically reduced.