weakness for being foolish
by Pat Murphy
crisis drives Americans into doing and saying foolish things.
Jerry Falwell started early with his far-out religious explanation for
terrorism in Washington and New York City. Falwell blamed the attacks on
God’s wrath for gays, abortionists and the American Civil Liberties
Union. Did God Himself tell Falwell this?
late-night comic Bill Maher inanely accused U.S. political leaders of
being "cowardly" for firing cruise missiles from afar into
Mideast nations during the Clinton administration. That led to an angry
campaign of viewers to have ABC throw Maher off the air for insufficient
patriotism. ABC wisely declined. Don’t like Maher, don’t tune in to
watch his program.
newspaper columnists in Texas and Oregon were fired by publishers for
harsh criticism—and stupidly reasoned criticism, in my judgment—of
President Bush. Are these publishers suspending criticism of the
president, no matter how silly, and becoming mindless boosters for the
duration of the "war"?
of right wing Republicanism, Rush Limbaugh, rushed into the fray with
flags flying by denouncing ABC news anchor Peter Jennings as unspeakably
unpatriotic for something viewers thought he said about President Bush,
but didn’t. Limbaugh swallowed hard and apologized.
Republican state legislator in Missouri, Rep. Matt Bartle, is threatening
budget revenge on the University of Missouri’s journalism department
because the school’s KOMU-TV news director, Stacey Woelfel, banned
on-air TV reporters from wearing American flags in their lapels. So? They
also aren’t allowed to wear Democratic Party and Republican Party lapel
Not to be
left out was the White House: after presidential press secretary Ari
Fleischer blundered during a press briefing by saying Americans need to
watch what they say and what they do, his ominous and overbearing words
were excised from the official White House transcript as if he’d never
self-serving exploitation of the crisis, New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani is
conniving to stay on as Hizzoner for several months after his term ends
Dec. 31, to continue managing the disaster recovery, which he’s done
with admirable flair and commendable inspiration. "There is
tremendous sentiment on the part of some people for me to stay, " he
insists. No doubt. However, no politician is indispensable: America and
its cities have survived for more than two centuries without abandoning
laws of political succession to cater to a politician’s sentimental
attachment to his power.
President Bush used the word "crusade" to describe the war on
terrorists, some Muslims stretched this to mean that Christians were
launching a 21st century version of the 11th, 12th
and 13th century "Crusades" against Islam. Oh,
was the e-mail from a sourpuss Arizona acquaintance who wrote he was
"furious" at seeing former President Bill Clinton on TV
"smiling and laughing." Presumably, he’d prefer all of us don
sackcloth and dust on ashes and lapse into a humorless funereal mood of
unrelenting national despair. The war on terrorism is bound to last a long
so, too, will American foolishness in the name of patriotism.