Jewish World Review March 27, 2003 / 23 Adar II, 5763

Jerry Della Femina

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Consumer Reports

Spoiled 'peace' brats | When I was a little kid -- maybe two, maybe three -- my parents took me for a walk on Avenue U in Brooklyn. We passed a jewelry store. I ran up and stood on my toes and looked into a window and spotted a ring. The price tag was $975. I couldn't read and all I saw was the shiny sparkling ring. "I want that," I said.

My mother used to tell me how much, at first, she and my dad laughed.

My dad at the time worked nights in the composing room of The New York Times. Every Friday he took home a check for $22. "Santa Claus will bring it on Christmas," they said, which is the universal language in poor neighborhoods for "We can't afford it and you won't remember it by the time Christmas rolls around."

"I want it now," I said. They took my arm and attempted to lead me away, I started to cry. They pulled my arm and, they tell me, I held on to the side of the doorway leading into the jewelry store.

"I want it now!" I screamed. Passerby's stopped and stared. Finally, my dad slapped me on the behind. (It was before a slap on the behind was considered child abuse so it was just that, a slap on the behind.) It didn't stop me, I screamed and cried even louder. A policeman walking his beat came by and tried to calm me down. I'm told he failed.

Finally the policeman whispered something to my dad, and my father walked into a neighborhood candy store, leaving me staring at the ring and crying. My dad came out of the candy store with a little 10-cent toy ring and gave it to me.

"I don't want that one!" I screamed, throwing the fake ring to the ground. "I want that one." I cried, pointing to the expensive ring. They finally dragged me kicking and screaming home. They tell me I cried for three days and three nights.

Every year at Christmas Eve dinner we ate the night away and told stories that were the only legacy the poor have. Somewhere between the story of my great uncle Louie having two live chickens break for freedom on the Sea Beach subway train as he was taking them home in a defective brown paper shopping bag, and the story of how my mom as a little girl watching the St. Gennaro's feast from her Mulberry Street window accidentally knocked a flower pot off the window sill and hit a cop on the head, my mom would tell the story of the ring.

She would always look at me smile and say, "You were so willful." I remember she would pronounce the word "willaful" with a trace of the Italian accent she brought to this country.

I thought about the ring when I read about the peace demonstrators marching all over the world. They want peace the same way I wanted that ring. They presume that those of us who support this war don't want peace. They presume that if you scream loud enough and long enough it will happen.

They don't seem to realize that ultimately peace is not in our hands but in the bloodstained hands of Osama bin Laden, Mohammed Atta, Saddam Hussein, Kahalid Shaikh Mohammed, Zacarias Moussaoui, Adnan G. el Shukrjumah, Kim Jong II, and many other beasts who live to hurt and kill Americans.

One would have to be insane not to want to live in peace. I don't know anyone who is for war. But the majority of Americans believe we must stop those who are terrorists before they strike. And the time to turn the other cheek is over.

At 8:44, on September 11, 2001 there were 3000 people who had gone to work at the World Trade Center or had boarded planes or went to work at the Pentagon thinking they were living in a world that was at peace. They were dead at 8:45.

Every word Barbra Streisand, Martin Sheen, Susan Sarandon, that fat, exploitive pig Michael Moore, and all the peaceniks have ever said, all the candlelight vigils, couldn't help those who perished that terrible day.

There are brave young men and women fighting and dying in Iraq. They deserve our thanks. In a time when every move on the battlefront is recorded on television, seeing some Americans fighting with police in the name of peace does not honor our soldiers' commitment and sacrifice.

The beautiful song goes "All we are saying is give peace a chance." It is a sad commentary on the world in which we live that those words now have as much of a chance of being heard by our sworn enemies as a little boy's screams were heard for a $975 diamond ring those many, many years ago.

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JWR contributor Jerry Della Femina was recently named by Advertising Age as one of the 100 Most Influential Advertising People of the Century. He's perhaps the most sought-after advertising expert in the country, there is no network, no publication and no organization on which, in which, or before which Mr. Della Femina has not appeared. He is also the author of two books, From Those Wonderful Folks Who Gave You Pearl Harbor (a best-seller), and An Italian Grows in Brooklyn (a non-seller). Comment by clicking here.


03/21/03: What we must do
03/17/03: Turn your cheek and get another fist in your jaw
02/25/03: In New Yawk, they are finally muzzling celebs
02/06/03: Media empowering terrorism?
01/31/03: Outed at McDonald’s
01/24/03: Fresh ink
01/10/03: Will his political career go up in smoke?
11/07/02: Here's a dirty little secret: Most Italians sort of like the Mafia
10/17/02: Bloomberg for Honorary Italian of the Year

© 2002, Jerry Della Femina