Jewish World Review April 30, 2002 / 18 Iyar, 5762

Stanley Crouch

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Consumer Reports

Time to get serious
on immigration | Because of the grand tradition of political asylum in this country as well as the blinding sentimentality about immigration, we have a great problem facing the facts of what this war on terrorism is truly about.

Too many of us see any move to limit immigration as nothing other than totalitarianism, profiling, racism, hysteria and a denial of our identity as a nation of immigrants.

What hogwash. Sept. 11 put us in the middle of something that has no precedent on this scale in this country.

Two things have risen into view that should make even our most reluctant realists see a bit more clearly how heavy our moment is.For one, Zacarias Moussaoui, known as 9/11's 20th hijacker, stood up in his federal court proceeding and called for the destruction of the United States and the Jewish people.

He fired his lawyers, announced that there would be more bombings by terrorists and referred to "the shoe bomber" as "a brother."As you may recall, Moussaoui was arrested last year when he attempted to learn how to take off and fly large planes but had no interest in finding out how to land them. Had he not been in custody, it is now assumed that he would have been on the most sensational murder raid since the Black September killing of the Israeli Olympic team in 1972.

The other eye-opener comes with the arrest of Ahmed Sattar, the Staten Island mailman who was the spokesman for blind cleric Sheik Omar Abdel-Rahman and is being charged with providing support to a terror group.

Sattar, described as a mild-mannered Muslim immigrant who has gotten along well in this country over the last 15 years, not only received thousands of dollars to be a paralegal for the Egyptian cleric convicted in a plot to blow up the Holland Tunnel, but he's now charged with getting the addresses of FBI agents while working as a mailman.

Sattar, known to be mixed up with a terrorist group that murdered 58 tourists in Egypt in 1997, is one of those charged, along with lawyer Lynne Stewart, with helping Abdel-Rahman sneak messages out of prison to his followers.We may find out that a massive hit job was in the making.

Sattar and Moussaoui should help create an understanding of why the United States must get and more more serious about flushing out and handling these terrorists, as well as moving to keep them out of our country.

Circumstances are quite different from those in the '60s, when we did have home-grown domestic terrorists who considered themselves revolutionaries but never would have flown planes into buildings or strapped bombs on themselves.

There is now an enemy within, and there are many enemies outside this nation. So we have to keep close watch on law enforcement authorities and what they do, but we should not be so naive as to believe that people this determined to murder civilians and disrupt this nation are abstractions over which we can haughtily debate civil liberties and constitutionality.

The pressure has to stay on, the investigations have to intensify and we need to seriously consider a moratorium on Muslim immigrants until the smoke clears.

That's what time it is.

JWR contributor and cultural icon Stanley Crouch is a columnist for The New York Daily News. He is the author of, among others, The All-American Skin Game, Or, the Decoy of Race: The Long and the Short of It, 1990-1994,       Always in Pursuit: Fresh American Perspectives, and Don't the Moon Look Lonesome: A Novel in Blues and Swing. Send your comments by clicking here.


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