The Need for Calm
The "need for calm" in the title is admonishment to myself
in the first place. Those of us privileged to have access to the
people of this great nation carry exceptional responsibility just
now. I will try to be worthy.
For some time now, we have been telling ourselves that we can have
it both ways, and this unrealistic approach has permeated most aspects
of our national life. We pride ourselves in being even-handed, but
ended up invariably favoring the political agenda of one side -
a kind of "heads we win, tails you lose."
We are being lectured day and night about not blaming either Arabs
or Moslems for the tragedy visited upon this nation, even though
of the nineteen highjacker/mass-murderers nineteen were Arab Moslems.
The cheering and dancing in the streets throughout the Arab world
should be overlooked as well.
OK. We must not generalize. We must not think in terms of collective
blame. Yet the very same people who say this, including the entire
Democratic Party of the United States, have informed me that - though
I was born in Hungary 1936, persecuted by Nazis at the age of 8
and by communists at the age of 13 - I will have to pay reparations
to Oprah Winfrey.
Trying to remain calm.
We have been told that social justice requires letting everyone
into this country, granting citizenship with no expectations of
loyalty to America, and we are bigots if we dare to open our mouths.
OK. It's the Christian thing to share our good fortune with the
widest possible range of other human beings. But then Christian
impulses are to be suppressed in every other arena, and a whole
battery of extra-special rights granted to everybody else. And if
our new neighbors decide to kill us, tough luck. We, not they, were
at the wrong place at the wrong time. Treating suspicious characters
with suspicion, we are told, is something bigots do.
Trying to remain calm.
During recent years, flight attendants have been informing passengers
before take-off that their primary job was to ensure the safety
of passengers. They carried out this assignment through interminable
explanations of smoking prohibitions, and of endless federal laws
to punish anyone interfering with smoke detectors in the lavatories.
And we are continuing on that road. The new "safety"
regulations would have made no difference whatsoever on September
11 and, as before, they will punish Susan Appleseed carrying her
toddler strapped in a car seat, or Dotty with the purple hair en
route to the next bingo hall. An actual friend of mine called Shirley
had her tweezers confiscated. Our resources are once again wasted,
our decent people once again harassed for naught. Experts tell us
anything can be a weapon in the hands of a highjacker.
If so, then what gets on board is irrelevant. Who gets on board
is all that matters. Like it or not, I doubt that one of those nineteen
mass-murderers could have set foot in this land when I first arrived
here in 1959. Anyone with half a brain should have wondered what
they were doing in flight training schools, or five of them on airliner.
You can be shocked and dismayed by what I am saying, or decide that
our right to live trumps social justice.
Trying to remain calm. But we have to regain a free hand in defending
ourselves. We have to get out of the mind set that has systematically
prevented our famous instincts for self-preservation from being
engaged. If not, turning the Arab desert into more of a desert is
not going to accomplish much.
A word about deafening silences. We have yet to hear from America's
black leaders, the Women's Movement, the Nation of Islam, Hollywood's
otherwise loquacious lot.
The bottom line is that indeed we need to preserve all that is
noble, humane and compassionate in America. But we also have to
understand that if we do not succeed in preserving ourselves, we
will not be here to preserve all that is noble, humane and compassionate
It would be helpful if expressions of unequivocal solidarity with
America would be received from Americans of Arab origin and Moslem
faith. Alas, they can do that only if they forsake the fanatical
hatred they inaccurately call "a political cause." It
would be better still if the aforementioned communities would pledge
to weed their own ranks of America's enemies.
All of us could then be a great deal more calm.