Who’d believe they could change the subject so fast? Last week, Topic A was how to switch presidents. Today it’s how to duck a bomb down the street.. Are they crying wolf? Well, sure. Trouble is, there are real wolves out there.
Leaving aside the home-grown variety–like the Oklahoma City bombers, the anthrax killer and that crazy cop in the subway the other night–there’s a growing number of wolves of the breed that attacked the World Trade Center twice, and brought it down the second time.
The Bushes, who should know them well from their family ties with the oil sheiks, keep saying the terrorists do it because they hate democracy–so we have to suspend democracy, to save it.
Well, they didn’t do a very good job on security after the first attack, did they? Mayor Giuliani turned City Hall into a fortress and built a bunker in the sky, which brought down the house.
Now obviously, we’re glad to have cops up on Wall Street checking cars, and they’re welcome to peek into our lunch bags. But making life hard for peace demonstrators is playing into Al Queda’s hands. In the Moslem world, we are hated, not because we are democratic but because we are there, as occupiers and exploiters, as armored gunmen, jail keepers and torturers.
So let them see us on television as peace-loving small-d democrats–not targets for their revenge. That is a sensible approach to homeland security.
JOHN L. HESS is a former writer for the New York Times, a career he chronicles in his excellent new book My Times: a Memoir of Dissent. Hess is now a political commentator for WBAI.