Jewish World Review Sept. 26, 2002 / 20 Tishrei, 5763

Edward I. Koch

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Consumer Reports

Confronting pathetic Americans in a post 9-11 world | Mayor Bloomberg invited me to participate in the commemoration of the attack on the World Trade Center and to read the names of a number of victims.

The simplicity of the September 11th ceremony made it very moving. The commemoration consisted primarily of reading the names of all of the near 3,000 victims, reciting historical documents such as the Gettysburg Address, and the playing of appropriate music. Future generations will surely memorialize this tragedy which was the first successful effort by foreign enemies of the United States to commit a terrorist act in our country resulting in the deaths of thousands of innocent civilians.

At the ceremony, I sat next to the bereaved father of a young woman from Wisconsin who was trapped in one of the Twin Towers at the moment of the attack. It is unnatural for a parent to bury a child, and he will never recover from her death. Notwithstanding his suffering, he had only praise for the response of New York City, Mayor Rudy Giuliani, and the city's policemen, firefighters and EMS workers. His recounting of his suffering on the day of the tragedy and those that followed when he came to New York City caused me to weep unashamedly for his daughter and for him and his family.

That same evening, I was part of a panel discussion on BBC-TV's "Question Time" show which aired live in the United Kingdom. One of the panelists was Michael Moore, writer and director of the award-winning documentary "Roger & Me." During the warm-up before the studio audience, Moore said something along the lines of "I don't know why we are making so much of an act of terror. It is three times more likely that you will be struck by lightening than die from an act of terror." I was aghast and responded, "I think what you have said is outrageous, particularly when we are today commemorating the deaths of 3,000 people resulting from an act of terror." I mention this exchange because it was not televised, occurring as it did before the show went live.

Many in the audience assembled by the BBC included Americans and people from other nations. Their positive responses to Moore on this and other comments he made during the program convinced me that the producers had found a lair of dingbats when looking to fill the studio with an audience. Moore later called President Bush a "dummy," denigrating him for having threatened Iraq with consequences including war if it did not comply with the United Nations resolutions to which it agreed when it was defeated in the 1991 Gulf War. Again, I couldn't contain myself and said, "That's what you radicals on the left always do. You don't debate issues, you denigrate your opponents. You did it with President Reagan, saying he was dumb. After he left office, 600 speeches, many hand-written by him, demonstrated his high intelligence."

The audience applauded Moore and his outrageous comments. But the world knows that President Bush has and is demonstrating superb leadership by persuading several key countries to drop their opposition to the U.S. efforts to get Iraq to comply with the U.N. resolutions and allow unfettered access to U.N. weapons inspectors. Few, if any, doubt that Iraq currently has stockpiles of poison gas and biological agents and is prepared to use them, having done so in the past. The only question is how far it is from acquiring the means to manufacture nuclear bombs.

The European Union, led by Germany, with the exception of Britain, would willingly forego taking any military measures against Iraq to enforce U.N. resolutions. Knowing President Bush has the capability of using U.S. military forces to bring Iraq to its knees without the assistance of any other nation, we are now witnessing a change of heart by some of our former Gulf War allies who want once again to join us in the relentless war undertaken by the U.S. against terrorists and "those who harbor them."

Generations to come will look to honor each year the victims of 9-11. I suggest that on each anniversary from now on, at 8:45 a.m., all activity in the U.S. stop and every person in our nation stand silently for one minute. We in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania, exhibited the true grit this entire nation is made of. A moment of silence would sound even louder than a national holiday that traditionally ends up as a national super sale day.

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JWR contributor Edward I. Koch, the former mayor of New York, can be heard on Bloomberg Radio (WBBR 1130 AM) every Saturday from 9-10 am. Comment by clicking here.

09/19/02: Don't be fooled by Saddam
09/05/02: Necessary or not, getting congressional approval for war is common-sense
08/28/02: In defense of terrorism
08/22/02: Saddam Hussein is extremely popular in "Arab street," so why attack him?
08/15/02: My potpourri
08/09/02: Traitors: Journalistic and 'patriotic'
07/31/02: Euros should spend their time analyzing their own country's wartime actions
07/25/02: I may know next to nothing about the stock market, but I'm not getting out
07/18/02: Dems should stop trying to 'Whitewater' the President
07/11/02: Real Americans and the Islamic threat

© 2002, Edward I. Koch