5. The Passion: The Betrayals of Elián González and Wen Ho Lee

Crystal Parikh

in An Ethics of Betrayal

Published by Fordham University Press

Published in print April 2009 | ISBN: 9780823230426
Published online March 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780823235070 | DOI:

Series: American Literatures Initiative

5. The Passion: The Betrayals of Elián González and Wen Ho Lee

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This chapter moves to a cultural narrative of international intrigue and to a potential case of literal espionage, the case of the Cuban child emigrant Elián González and that of Wen Ho Lee, the Chinese American physicist accused of spying on the United States. The ethics of betrayal in these cases—which were figured in the language of martyrdom, scapegoating, and treason—compels us to ask the difficult questions that a liberal discourse of minority subjectivity necessarily eschews. By taking seriously the claims of Cuban exiles against Castro and the possibility that Wen Ho Lee did in fact spy on the United States for the People's Republic of China, the chapter considers the “diasporic desire” that ethical critique manifests. The nation's seemingly anachronistic revival in both of these cases of the specter of Communism in a post-Cold War/New World Order—an anxiety irreconcilable to the prevalent stereotype of Asian Americans and Cuban Americans as model minorities—illustrates the anxieties about national self-image that plague the American subject.

Keywords: Elián González; Wen Ho Lee; national self-image; betrayal; minorities

Chapter.  12989 words. 

Subjects: Social and Political Philosophy

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