It's a miracle! The Republicans want gun control!
Just when we thought George W. Bush's first act as president would be to pin Charlton Heston with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the GOP has made one of the most dramatic turnarounds in political history. Until Elian Gonzalez, Republicans could not spell G-U-N even if you spotted them the G and the N.
Now - Holy Magnum - they will hold hearings to find out why federal agents brandished guns to rescue Elian from the Miami relatives who held him hostage from Elian's father. The House Judiciary Committee chairman, Henry Hyde of Illinois, said, ''The inquiry will focus on whether the use of such force was necessary.''
Many Republicans have their minds made up. ''This use of force was totally unnecessary,'' said Senator Connie Mack of Florida.
''Goodness gracious, what has this come to? ... Why did you use this amount of force? ... The use of this type of force clearly was not justified,'' said the Senate majority leader, Trent Lott of Mississippi.
''This is a frightening event,'' said the House majority whip, Representative Tom DeLay of Texas.
''Who authorized this outrage?'' said Representative Bill McCollum of Florida, chairman of the House Judiciary subcommittee on crime.
''It is deeply regrettable the INS chose to use such force,'' said Minnesota's Senator Rod Grams.
''The American people have a right to feel safe and secure in their homes,'' said Representative Dan Burton of Indiana, chairman of the House Government Reform Committee.
''The chilling picture of a little boy being removed from his home at gunpoint defies the values of America,'' said George W. himself.
Goodness gracious, the Republicans are talking about how guns threaten the safety of our homes. Now they are shocked, outraged, chilled, frightened, and traumatized over the brandishing of weapons. Why, they are starting to sound like soccer moms. The next thing you know, Lott and company will destroy the gender gap by endorsing the Million Mom March.
Let us celebrate this pivotal turn in US history without sarcasm. Any day Republicans want gun control is a good day. We should welcome them with open arms. You do have to admit, it is a little weird, since not a single shot was fired to rescue Elian.
We won't ask Bush why he found it so chilling last week to see a 6-year-old boy removed at gunpoint from law-breaking relatives when this week - less than two months after a 6-year-old shot to death a 6-year-old in a Michigan school - the Republican presidential candidate picked up $250,000 from the National Rifle Association at his $21 million fund-raiser.
Nor will we ask how the Republicans were not moved to hold hearings as armed white racists went wild in suburban Chicago, Los Angeles, and off military bases, and black racists rampaged in suburban Pittsburgh and on the Long Island Railroad. Neither rain nor heat nor gloom of night shall stay postal couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds, but we won't ask where the Republicans were when couriers and clerks went postal, killing their colleagues with many rounds.
We will not ask why the Republicans have been so partisan in rejecting gun control, since gun violence knows no political party, not after two Kennedys, Reagan, Wallace, and George Lincoln Rockwell, not with cases from the Crips to Carol Stuart, from suburban abortion clinics to Washington, D.C., from King and Medgar Evers to Tupac Shakur and Timothy McVeigh.
We will not complicate matters by asking them why the headlines never added up over 40 years: Texas Tower, Florida tourists, McDonald's massacre, Son of Sam, Bernhard Goetz, Malcolm, Ruby, Lennon, Gaye, Columbine, Michael Jordan's father, the Atlanta day trader, the Atlanta college students, the Honolulu and Seattle office shootings, George Moscone and Harvey Milk.
Bush cares about one 6-year-old boy taken at gunpoint, but if we are holding the sarcasm, we will not press him about the 11-year-old likely to die from the shooting at the Washington Zoo.
Let us not say any more, lest we taint the miracle. We won't attempt to ask how it was that a photo with immigration agents showing a gun can cause such a fuss when somehow it has been beneath the Republicans to notice that 1 million Americans have died from gun-related homicides and suicides since 1960, about the same number of Americans who died in the Civil War, World War I, and World War II combined.
We won't ask how they missed a carnage 17 greater than the loss of American lives in Vietnam. This is a day of celebration. The Republicans are for gun control.
We'll believe it when we see Trent Lott give the Senate's official welcome to the Million Mom March.
Derrick Z. Jackson is a Globe columnist.
© Copyright 2000 Globe Newspaper Company.