Logic, emotion clash in the case of Elian

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, April 25, 2000

The image is burned into the minds of anyone who has seen a newspaper, television newscast or Internet news site since Saturday: A young, frightened 6-year-old, in the arms of an adult, crying out as an armed federal agent, weapon in hand, reaches out toward the other adult.

And, for better or worse, that split-second was captured in a photograph and is now the image that millions of people will forever equate with the saga of Elian Gonzalez. The picture is more than merely compelling — it is stirring. Few, if any, people who see the image can resist making an emotional connection with Elian — and forming an emotional opinion about the rightness or wrongness of the early morning raid.

That connection has permeated young Elian’s saga — from the tragic beginning when he emerged in America the sole survivor among a boat filled with refugees fleeing Cuba to the highly charged emotional and legal battles over his custody and his future. And, in this case, it is almost impossible to separate emotions from fact and from logic.

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Yet, somehow, we must do that. No one — especially a child — should have to endure the terror that surely must come with seeing armed men push through the door into your house. Emotionally, we are outraged at the incident.

But, no one — even well-meaning relatives — should continue to defy court orders and continue to thwart efforts to reunite a child with his sole surviving parent. Logically, we know Elian’s Miami relatives must follow the very laws that are part of our democracy — a government that gives them the freedom and the opportunities they never had in Cuba.

And, when emotion and logic clash, we, as a nation, find ourselves conflicted. But as much as our hearts may ache for young Elian, we must side with logic and reason — in this case, the reuniting of Elian and his father. Whether Elian stays in the United States is yet to be seen, and the court battles ahead likely will resolve the issue.

We only pray that Elian will find calm and peace, despite the public fury.