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Jewish World Review Sept. 21, 2001 / 4 Tishrei, 5762

Robert L. Haught

Robert L. Haught
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Washington's guidelines on how to tickle a terrorist -- WASHINGTON -- The president says -- commands -- everybody get back to work. (How did this important man, with all he has on his mind, know that this writer slacked off last week? It just wasn't a time to poke fun at politicians or anyone else.)

But under presidential orders, work must go on.

The masters of terrorism must be watching with diabolical joy at how some Americans reacted in the chaotic days that followed the horrible disaster of Sept. 11.

Perhaps a bemused smile crept across the satanic face of Osama bin Laden as Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., spoke approvingly of President Bush, knowing that bipartisanship often is transitory.

More than likely he flashed a wicked grin at the picture of former President Clinton and his vice president, Al Gore, oddly reunited by the destruction of the World Trade Center towers. Clinton invited the stranded Gore to stay overnight at his Chappaqua, N.Y., home, then fly to Washington on a government plane. (It must have been Gore's birthday call to his old boss that broke the ice.)

Iraqi tyrant Saddam Hussein surely clapped his hands in exhilaration at the Washington Post's "Nation Reels" headline. He probably danced with devilish glee at Post columnists Mary McGrory and David Broder's implied cowardice of the commander in chief because he prudently delayed returning to the capital following a credible threat to Air Force One. McGrory said Bush "flunked" his first test in the crisis, and Broder wrote that the president "seemed to be seeking a hideaway from both unknown enemies and his own nerves." Post TV critic Tom Shales also kicked the nation's leader, labeling him "ineffectual, neither reassuring nor forceful enough."

Terrorists planning future attacks no doubt delighted in the Post's publishing of details of how flight attendants are trained to thwart hijackers from entering the cockpit.

Mad bombers cowering in their caves could take fiendish pleasure in the media's obsession with the idea of removing the ban on assassinations of monsters like bin Laden, as if to say, "he must be read his Miranda rights."

America haters everywhere must have been cheered by the absurd statement of Gar Smith, editor of the Earth Island Institute's journal, that the terrorist strikes were "an attack not on U.S. citizens but an assault on U.S. foreign policy."

They must have loved hearing the Rev. Jerry Falwell's opinion that the tremendous loss of life and property was "probably what we deserve" for harboring feminists, homosexuals and civil rights groups -- with televangelist Pat Robertson chiming in.

Reports of merchants hiking prices of gasoline and the U.S. flag might have been music to the ears of madmen bent on disrupting the American economy.

If such thoughts ran through the twisted minds of those who would destroy this country, they should wipe the smiles off their faces. Americans quickly united against a common enemy. Blame seekers recanted their remarks, including Falwell and Robertson. Some columnists began to write admiringly of Bush's on-site visits to the Pentagon and New York and of his leadership in rallying the nation from a devastating blow and pointing the way toward victory over evildoers. Retailers bowed to public protest.

Maybe it was just a coincidence, but unquestionably fortunate timing, for the Postal Service to pick the day after the disaster to announce it will seek a 9 percent increase in postage rates. The story was buried on an inside page. Deeper inside, an item about Rep. Gary Condit's district being redrawn. No news of sharks.

JWR contributor Robert L. Haught is a columnist for The Oklohoman. Comment by clicking here.


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© 2001, Robert L. Haught