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World Vision of the US
So many messages about Elian have been received that I am holding them until some significant development occurs. However, here is the substance of a message from Ernesto García Calderón, a Knight Fellow from Peru, which deals with a broader issue of America viewed as Disneyland:
"Vulgarizing the U.S. by equaling it to an amusement park, however grandiose and famed and actually AMUSING it might be, reduces the concept of America as a place where you can indulge in almost anything without restraint, a "land of the free" where you are allowed to travel on a flying elephant's ears again and again and again if you want to. What these people really mean is, Foreigners should not go to such great lengths ONLY to have a ride on this Big Amusement Park called America, even if it'd be a helluva ride. America is basically shallow, the argument goes, a vacuous environment where a kid like Elián will be "brainwashed" -- as opposed to educated, looked after, and bound to become a good citizen elsewhere. That's why the mention of Disneyland in any Elián argument is so upsetting to many. Because it is simply not true. America is not paradise lost, but it certainly is much more than a huge, coast-to-coast Disneyland."
My comment: This goes to the very heart of what WAIS is all about: the vision people have of a country and the reality. It is not sufficient to damn Nazi Germany, the USSR and Castro's Cuba. We must try to understand how they came about and to be balanced in our judgment. The entertainment business gives a distorted vision of America, which is best represented in the Midwest. Likewise the view of "gai Paris" distorts the vision of what is called "la France profonde." Admittedly, Disneyland and gai Paris attract tourists, but the Midwest does not. Tourists are not serious travelers.
Ronald Hilton - 1/21/00