Presidential Action Urgently Needed
Scripps-Howard News Service 8.06.02
As everyone who flies is aware, an assault is being waged on Americans
every minute of every hour of every day at the nation's airports.
On the same day, we have heard of yet another outrage from Grand
Rapids (Mich.): the bestialization of a double-mastectomy patient,
and former senator George McGovern - "I'll-beg-the-Vietnamese-on-my-knees-for-peace"
George McGovern - declaring that even he's had it with airport "security."
The situation is no longer tolerable.
For all intents and purposes, we are displaying the following notice
at every one of our airports:
"If you choose to enter this building, you will be suspected
of attempting to smuggle weapons capable of inflicting serious bodily
harm or death, and of plotting to cause material damage to these
United States as well as potentially fatal injury to its citizens.
Federal authorities have determined to place you under suspicion
because 19 Arab Muslims, having so plotted for years, and having
executed their plans with no interference whatsoever by U.S. authorities,
succeeded in what you now stand accused of planning to do. You have
to be cleared of the above charges prior to proceeding to a gate
In the aftermath of 9/11, with bloody tales of box cutters and
plastic knives, it was understandable that we focused on the "what."
But the decisive component isn't "what" - it's "who."
In other words, were I to take along an entire kitchen drawer, in
and of itself that would pose no threat to the flight.
"If only all criminals would look like criminals, the police
would have an easy job."
Actor James Woods told America on "Larry King Live" that
he had no problem identifying potential highjackers a year ago when,
about a month before 9/11, they were on his flight as a sort-of
dress rehearsal. While no one suggests that every atrocity in history
has been committed by young Arab/Muslim males, persons with normal
brains realize that, for several decades now, a pattern of terror
in the skies, and terror on land and sea, has been visited upon
the world by them.
And they make no secret of it. S. Mohammad Karim, who lives in
Ann Arbor, Michigan, and is a member of the Council on American
Islamic Relations (CAIR), wrote to me: "We must expose the
Islamophobic bigotry that apparently surrounds us, and thereafter
punish it collectively."
CAIR received a copy from Mohammad Karim, but has yet to indicate
a desire to distance itself from this threat.
Not "what" - "who."
We are not trying to avoid being set upon by the Mongol hordes
of Genghis Khan, or the storm troops of Hitler's Third Reich. We
are trying to avoid being murdered by young Arab/Muslim men. No
one else is currently threatening the safety of our skies. If and
when they do, we can respond.
And if Arabs/Muslims don't like being singled out, they can stop
doing it, stop inciting others to do it, and stop financing it.
Only they can decide to stop. The lady with double mastectomy can't.
Meanwhile, Arab/Muslim Americans could earn special respect by volunteering
to take the brunt of the security-related delays and indignities.
But the situation is intolerable. Something has to be done now.
One's gut reaction is to call Governor John Engler of Michigan
for a start, and ask him to replace the entire Grand Rapids security
staff forthwith. However vile, though, that would be just one problem
Then I thought of contacting Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta.
But his entire career was built on extracting compensation for Japanese
Americans. I cannot rid myself of the - strictly personal - suspicion
that deep down he resents America and Americans altogether.
Last week, Joseph Perkins made some recommendations on these pages,
expressing hope that Admiral James Loy, recently appointed to assume
responsibility for the also recently established Transportation
Security Administration, will do a better job than his fired predecessor.
Perhaps. But I believe this one is for our president to fix.
We all trust that President Bush is slowly but surely, albeit secretly,
punishing those who have inflicted upon us the worst day this nation
ever endured. We all trust that some day, a modicum of satisfaction
will be ours as we find out how the appropriate people have been
divested of their fortunes, their training camps, their revenues,
Where we do observe punishment, though - every minute of every
hour of every day - is in our own lives, that is, if we need to
avail ourselves of what used to be the fastest means of transportation.
And it's kind of tough to be standing with your arms and legs spread,
shoes off, pockets emptied, hand luggage ransacked - all for the
third time in a space of twenty minutes - and glance up to the television
monitor showing the President of the United States surrounded (yet
again) by some two dozen imams and Saudi princes, all basking in
the warm hospitality of the White House.
As the anniversary of 9/11 approaches, it is not unreasonable to
ask our leader for a present to the nation. An appropriate gesture
would be to say, "you have suffered enough for the sins you
and your ancestors have committed according to the Reverend Jesse
Jackson, the Ayatollah Khomeini, Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman, and the
Reverend Jerry Falwell. As of September 12, 2002, we will change
I believe George W. Bush is a thoroughly decent man. But he needs
to pay more attention to the monster created on his watch. The haphazard
hodgepodge instituted over the past year is threatening to become
permanent through benign neglect. An army of certified morons has
been unleashed on women recovering from double mastectomy and everyone
who wears shoes. Most importantly, no sane person believes for one
second that any of this is relevant to security in our skies.
Americans have been, and remain, willing to undergo delays and
indignities, so long as the process makes sense. Currently, it amounts
to nonsense. Insulting nonsense. And there is a good reason why
the president, and the president alone, can fix a mess of such astronomic
As one of his distinguished predecessors taught us all, the buck
Even during the August vacation.