Friday, January 28, 2005


Food For Thought

My mother has another wonderful column out, this time focusing on the recent Boston terror threat and the response to it. Here's a key excerpt:
The response was appropriate. The threat was taken seriously, and the people of Boston lived up to the spirit of their revolutionary history. They continued to go about their affairs, in spite of the dramatic nature of the threat. They did not cower in their homes, and there was no panic. There was only discussion and a heightened awareness. They studied the photos in the subway stations and in the newspapers, and they kept their eyes open. They felt that they could be part of the solution, not just bystanders.

I have written about this phenomenon more than once. Over a year ago, I wrote "In a war that targets civilians, we, the people, are all soldiers. We are America's first line of defense -- an army, 280 million strong, against this dark and malevolent enemy! We must begin by recognizing that our country is in danger and play a meaningful role in the defense of the freedom that we cherish." And so we did.

In the end, it turned out that the threat was no more than an expensive hoax. It was also an excellent exercise that made us all just a little better prepared for the real thing. And the people of Boston proved an important point. They proved that in spite of the terrifying nature of the supposed threat, they coped and provided additional willing eyes and ears for law enforcement.
My mother's been sounding this call for a while now. In Israel, we were used to the idea of an educated citizenry -- every kindergartener knew what a "suspicious object" was, everyone knew how to call the bomb squad and what to do. As a result, terrorist attacks in Israel have frequently been contained -- and even eliminated -- by ordinary citizens, armed or not, before the police could get there.

I don't know if that sort of attitude, pervasive across society, can be imported to the United States. But I'm in favor of it.

On a somewhat-related topic, Victor Davis Hanson says that British intellectuals are predicting the imminent collapse of the United States... again. He responds, with his usual vigor; it's well worth a read. For example:
It is true that Americans are worried about high budget deficits, trade imbalances, a weak dollar, and national debt; but we are already at work to rectify these problems [...] Hollywood movies, New York books, Silicon Valley software and gadgetry, Pentagon arms, the English language, and popular culture show no signs of fading before French film, London publishing, Indian I-pods, Chinese aircraft carriers, the global preference for Mandarin or burquas for bare-navels and Levis.
As The Professor would say, read the whole thing.

(Hat tip: GDB, a commenter at Citizen Smash.)


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