Originally created 05/14/00

Editorial 'tramples' parental rights

Your May 6 editorial accuses the GOP of having cold feet on holding hearings into the federal seizure of Elian Gonzales. As a lifelong Republican, it amazes me how some people and conservative publications can be so blind.

Just what is it about this case that you see screams for congressional hearings? The GOP historically has been a people's party which supports the preservation of the traditional family unit.

The philosophy you display now is not pro-family. In fact, you are trampling parental rights while pursuing a "scorched earth" campaign against anything President Bill Clinton and Attorney General Janet Reno support.

I too have a hard time advocating general support for Ms. Reno, because she has made some truly outrageous mistakes in the past, but this incident is so clear. I support her because it is, quite simply, the right thing to do.

If Miss Reno made any mistake at all, it was in not taking charge of this matter early on when it became apparent the relatives were not going to obey the law, and even more so when they refused to relinquish custody to the natural father when he landed on U.S. soil. The Miami activists cared very little for the welfare of the boy.

They were more interested in capitalizing on the abundance of media attention ... The single motivation was to stick it in Castro's ear. Clearly these activities were a tremendous, upheaving experience for an impressionable 6-year-old who had just lost his mother and had not yet been afforded a normal environment to understand the depth of his loss and the freedom to grieve. How could anyone condone keeping that boy in the highly charged environment going on inside and outside that house in Little Havana? The child needed to be with his father in surroundings he was familiar with.

Monday morning quarterbacking Ms. Reno on how she retrieved the boy is pure nonsense. Taking into consideration the questionable elements involved with the retrieval, it would have been foolhardy for agents to have handled the matter any other way, and if this case hadn't had the high public profile that it did, the GOP would not have uttered a word of protest, much less raise a call for congressional hearings.

Lawrence Smith, Martinez


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