Jewish World Review Sept. 11, 2002/ 5 Tishrei, 5763

Marianne M. Jennings

Marianne M. Jennings
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One year later, crass demands, greed, and litigation are back --- but rights are diminished | September 11 is a heck of a birthday, but I have been so graced. A birthday is a marking point for increases in years, lines, pounds, and humility, and decreases in flexibility, memory, hair, and clothes that fit. September 11 was once just my annual review. Now the rest of the world now joins me in reflection.

The collapse of the World Trade Center towers brought out the best in New Yorkers. They embraced the once-despised Rudy Giuliani for his leadership during crisis and gave Hillary Clinton the big hook at a fundraiser, booing her from the stage.

Church attendance found the coffers full and padres smiling at packed pews. Marriage license applications soared, as did wedding planners' income. Love and commitment were in the air. George Bush and Tom Daschle hugged. Irving Berlin's trust fund overflowed with royalties from constant performances of "G-d Bless America."

Dennis Hastert singing on the steps of the Capitol was a testament to our abandonment of "cool." Even Upper West Side New Yorkers sang along with Lee Greenwood's "Proud To Be An American." We had been attacked by a renegade band of desert dwellers with the audacity to use our planes to visit their destruction. Cars, porches and lapels blared with Old Glory. Wal-Mart faced a shortage of flags. There was relentless demand for all that is red, white and blue, right down brought even tri-color M & M's. We relived the bicentennial without the bicentennial moments. Then came a transition from the spiritual to the tacky

, from patriotism to gouging. We soon left "Abide With Me" for Enya stuff. Enya went from New Age to pop overnight, offering spirituality without religion's dowdiness. The church pews emptied, we discovered the Red Cross buying computers with our donations, and enter the trial lawyers. The victims and their families whined about multi-million-dollar compensation.

Then the peaceniks resurfaced on campuses as ivory tower occupants realized that for one brief shining moment they had been suckered out of moral relativism into passing judgment, flirting treacherously close to justified war. Vietnam rhetoric uttered by the same tired protestors, now professors with a new generation of recruits, ignited anti-US sentiment with the help of sophisticated Euros, sans Tony Blair. Last week, protestors on the continent carried placards referring to the U.S. as a "rogue nation."

Now there are courses on understanding Muslim radicals that we might feel the pain of Islam. Academics returned America to its prone position as obsequious apologist. We went from victims to perpetrators. Apologies continue for our momentary disregard of political correctness in pointing out that the hijackers were young Arab males.

Even our noble heroes lost the 9-11 vision of priorities and abandoned mourning's restraint. Firefighters, police officers and paramedics, using photos of their fallen brethren, marched the streets of New York in August, demanding pay hikes.

Mocking faith and religion is in vogue again for death's icy sting is but a memory. Daschle called Bush "a disaster." Oh, how the fickle soon forget the humility of vulnerability.

One year after the attacks, what exactly is different? We are not as free as we were. Rather than eradicate the source of terrorism or employ the tools of logic to remove the threat from within, we condone a national exercise in futility. The closure of our national treasures, the blockades surrounding landmarks and government buildings, and the lines at airport security are monuments to our cowardice.

Rather than eliminate Hussein we wait submissively, with the hollow look of those who live in conquest. Legislation, passed without dissent, permits John Ashcroft freewheeling access, so great is our fear of terrorists.

Airport security finds us watching without protest as grandmothers and small children are frisked. Our sheepish submission surely has our forefathers reeling. They defied a king under penalty of death and we won't question young Arab males at the airport for fear of offense. Go ahead, we say, take our wives and children, please. We have a crackerjack federalized security force whose greatest contributions since 9-11 have been uniforms that fit and catching the snookered pilots of Northwest, America West and Mesa Airlines.

Last month I was hand-patted at airport security because my chest made the wand beep. I confessed, "I have on an underwire bra." I could commandeer a 767 brandishing a Maidenform? I didn't go braless in the sixties when I was young lest there be an affront to society. I wouldn't do it now in my fifth decade even for a jihad hijacking.

The anger I felt last September 11 centered on 19 cowards. Now my blood boils over thousands of cowards in airports who consent to and watch dehumanizing searches. One year later crass demands, greed, and litigation are back but rights are diminished. The losses from September 11 remain historic.

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JWR contributor Marianne M. Jennings is a professor of legal and ethical studies at Arizona State University. Send your comments by clicking here.


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© 2002, Marianne M. Jennings