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Enough of Elian, I'm trying to see some Homer here

April 19, 2000

Last week Fox Television interrupted "The Simpsons" three times for a "Special Report" to show a helicopter shot of Janet Reno's black sport utility vehicle driving down the highway.

My first thought was oh no, A.C. Cowlings is behind the wheel and the attorney general must have slit somebody's throat and now has a gun to her head.

But no. She was just on her way to somebody's house to speak to somebody about the little Elian Gonzalez. This was news? I'd managed to escape Elianmania up until that point, but when they cut into the "Who Shot Mr. Burns" episode, Part I, that makes it personal.

At least I know where I stand now. Anyone who causes a Simpsons interruption deserves to be sent back to Cuba. No, Cuba's too good. Maybe Haiti.

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I have never heard such bedlam produced by a Cuban boy who couldn't pitch. Give him to his Cuban family or give him to his Miami family? Didn't King Solomon have something in his handbook about this type of situation?

Poor little fellow. I think the heaviest thing I had to decide when I was six was how deep to go before I made my cut when my brother Bruce was having me run a post pattern.

Poor us. Everyone age 10 and over can pretty much count on a lifetime of Elian Gonzalez "news" stories cooked up by the tabloids and the cable networks. "MSNBC Special Report: Elian Gonzales Turns 20."

"National Enquirer Exclusive: 'I had Elian Gonzales' Love Child.' "

"CNN Documentary: Elian Gonzalez - The Twilight Years."

At least Jeffrey Maier, the 12-year-old Yankees fan who plucked the pennant from the Orioles, played out after a couple of talk show tours. I fear the shelf life on Elian will be much longer.

"Elian SAT's 'Not What They Should Be' - Teacher"

Even the Elian jokes are tiresome. I've only heard two good lines come out of this whole affair:

"There's no way Elian Gonzalez should have to live his life under the tyrannical rule of a immoral, sociopathic dictator. Send him back to Cuba."

And President Clinton's words to the effect of: "Finally, an illegal alien that Pat Buchanan doesn't want to deport."

Usually when there's a tough, emotional argument cooking I can, at least to a degree, see both sides. In this situation, I can't see either side.

Keep him here to save him from a starving life of Cuban terror and oppression? Well, if it's that terrible and oppressive the only moral thing for this nation to do is airlift all children out of Cuba and into a land where we treat our kids right and where, regardless of their socioeconomic backgrounds, all young people are free to zone out in front of MTV during their entire run of formative years while wolfing down all the nutritious Gummy Bears they can cram into their chubby little fists.

The other argument is equally annoying. "It is wrong," people pronounce from their calves-leather recliners in the home-theater room of their Potomac estate, "to remove the child from his biological father in the name of materialism."

In Cuba the father is recorded in an obviously rehearsed video asking for the return of his son. In America, Elian is recorded in an obviously rehearsed video asking to stay. Then both sides snipe at each other for releasing rehearsed videos.

Miami gives him toys. Cuba builds him statues. Does this little boy have a prayer of growing up to be normal?

There's only one way out that I can see. Release the boy back to his father, but first allow the CIA to train him in counterespionage. Then if Cuba ever again dares threaten the very foundation of the United States by raining bootlegged cigars down on our cities, we'll be tipped off well in advance.

When Elian the Spy's cover is finally blown we send a Tom Clancy-like figure to snatch him and his father out, and they live the rest of their lives in American comfort. It's a win-win.

And the Simpsons need never be interrupted again.




Tim Rowland is a Herald-Mail columnist

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