LETTER TO THE EDITOR
This letter appeared in the Advocate (Baton Rouge, Louisiana) on 4 May 2000.
This item may be cited as M. R. Franks, Letter to the Editor: Miami not Waco or Ruby Ridge, Baton Rouge Advocate, May 4, 2000, at 8B.
Copyright © 2000, M. R. Franks
Let's draw no misplaced analogies between the rescue at Miami and the raids at Waco or Ruby Ridge. U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno's Waco and William Barr's Ruby Ridge were different. (Who, you ask, is William Barr? George Bush's attorney general, that's who. Recall that Ruby Ridge happened under Bush, not Clinton.)
In both Waco and Ruby Ridge, egotistic, overly aggressive federal officials plumped for their moments of televised glory, mounting totally unnecessary raids. Both of their targets, David Koresh and Randy Weaver, easily could have been apprehended on their frequent trips outside their respective quarters.
In Elian Gonzalez's case, however, Janet Reno first exhausted all reasonable means to resolve the dispute. How does one deal with defiant intransigents who for weeks keep breaking promises and demanding what they clearly are not entitled to: sole or joint custody of someone else's child? Are God-fearing Americans supposed to look the other way while a twice-convicted drunken driver brazenly refuses to return a child to his parent?
Conservatives should think twice before coming down on the side of persons so blinded by their justifiable dislike of Castro that they willingly rip a child from the arms of his loving father to use him as a pawn for their own political and financial gain.
Financial gain? Recall it was Lazaro Gonzalez's public relations consultant who, it is alleged, gave a $10,000 "campaign contribution" to the family court judge who initially awarded Lazaro temporary custody in clear violation of Florida law, which says that when the contest is between a parent and a nonparent, the parent always wins unless manifestly unfit. Recall this judge has since been indicted by the state of Florida, not the feds, for allegedly having accepted other "campaign contributions" in excess of $200,000.
The question, of course, is why Lazaro even has a PR consultant. The answer no doubt is movies and book rights. This child has been exploited, paraded as a trophy, held hostage and emotionally abused by greedy kidnappers who never had the slightest intention of returning him to his father.
What if the feds had gone in unarmed, only to have one of those wackos put a knife to the child's throat and say: "Not over my dead body. I'll kill this child before giving him back to a father who refuses to defect."
This time Reno did the right thing.
M. R. Franks, professor of family law
Southern University Law Center
2 Swan St.
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