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Jewish World Review June 28, 2002 / 18 Tamuz, 5762

Michael Long

Mike Long
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The bravest pop culture icon in the war on terror | Late-night comedians create public perceptions more effectively than any story in the New York Times. So let's be grateful that Dennis Miller performed a brilliant 17-minute piece of comedy recently on "The Tonight Show With Jay Leno." He had the courage to say what few others in the public eye would: that it's time to get serious about protecting ourselves in the war on terror.

Miller specializes in the indictment of the anti-common sense that runs rampant in America. His material is not all conservative and not all liberal-and it's not all to be taken seriously, either. (It's still comedy, after all.) But in an appearance with Jay Leno, Dennis Miller took a cannon to the nonsense of certain intellectual elites. He decimated the idea floated in some silly circles that America is obligated to care more for our enemies' rights than our own survival. He dressed these people down before millions of mainstream Americans, and then heaped on the public scorn they have long deserved.

"We're being entirely too nonchalant about this. A large contingent of this culture-at least the vocal ones-actually cares about the feelings of our enemies. I don't care about anything except their death, quite frankly," said Miller. "Everybody's worrying about Zacarias Moussaoui's rights…. I don't care about his rights. I don't care about the dirty bomber's rights.

"I know people are going to say, 'You don't care about the way America is.' I'm thinking, You gotta be kidding me. Do you think our Founding Fathers would stand for this? If they woke up one day and somebody had flown a jet into Constitution Hall? Do you know what their first thought would have been-after, 'Hey, who invented the jet already?' It would have been 'Destroy these people.'

While celebrity after celebrity uses his forum to insult the social, religious, and political ideas of typical Americans, Miller's righteous indignation was a magnificent victory for us, and for plain old common sense.

"We have got to get it together and understand," Miller told the audience. "People say, 'It's not the American way to infringe on civil liberties.' Well, it's not the American way to roll over for punks, either.

"We've got to start kicking ass on these people because they don't care about us. They live for one reason and one reason alone, and that is to kill you and me. There's no halfway with Al-Qaida… these people just care about our demise."


Old news among pop-culture observers is that while it may be politically incorrect to favor racial profiling out loud, many people understand that it has nothing to do with racism and everything to do about self-preservation. Saturday Night Live's Tracy Morgan-a black American-gave it the green light in a post-9/11 comedy set. Miller built momentum: "Of course we have to profile people. We live in some weird time now where we're all trying to convince each other that we shouldn't profile people. When 19 out of 20 people are from a certain [place], if you don't start looking at people who are visiting here from that country, you're not being open-minded. You're being dead.

"And you know something, the American Civil Liberties Union, when they come out and say you never can profile anybody who gets on an airplane? I say we create a new airline, the ACLA-the American Civil Liberties Airline-where you don't check anybody, you don't ask any questions, and let those morons fly on that one, okay? The rest of us want to be protected.

Here's Miller on our prison in Guantanamo Bay: "Are these people being treated fairly? Let's be serious. Guantanamo Bay is about as far as our Western sensibilities will allow us to descend as far as putting a prison together. No, it's not a joy ride. But if you put the Guantanamo Bay terrorist prison outside of Kabul, it would be their EPCOT.

"There are some people in the world who are just evil and want to kill us, and if we don't use our heads, then we're just sheep going to the slaughter." The truth is just that simple.

As someone who performed stand-up as an avocation for many years, I admire Dennis Miller even more now. By saying what he said on national TV, he has done a brave and necessary thing-and, among our current crop of icons in the popular culture, that is a rare achievement indeed.

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JWR contributor Michael Long is a a director of the White House Writers Group. Comment by clicking here.


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02/15/02: Al Gore and the real root cause of terrorism
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10/26/01: The Moral Case For Torture: Dirty hands don't always mean dirty souls
10/19/01: Questions for the Anti-War Crowd, Part II: What if someone took them seriously?
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07/27/01: Dispatch From The Front: The Gun Control War
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© 2001, Michael Long