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Jewish World Review Sept. 13, 2002 / 7 Tishrei, 5763

Michael Long

Mike Long
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A few thoughts on the news | Nelson Mandela, Off-Track. Nelson Mandela suffered for what he believes and, at 84, has a lot more experience just being alive than most of us. Which is why it so troubling that, in a Newsweek interview, he asserts that the U.S. is the real threat to world peace, not terrorism. He zipped through the interview without a single word about the lawlessness of the PLO, Saddam Hussein, and Osama bin Laden. Instead, he declared that if the U.N. can't agree to fight some evil, that thing isn't really evil at all. This is utterly disappointing from a man whose moral strength ought to be showing through just now. At the moment, Mandela is no iconoclast, but just another useful someone for those who don't care to see a threat unless it's his own head on the block.

Mandela Part II. To make matters much worse, Mandela also argued that our targeting of Iraq is racist: "Why should there be one standard for one country, especially because it is black, and another one for another country, Israel, that is white." This sort of ugly lie doesn't deserve a response, but Mandela is such a high-profile figure that comment must be made. Where to begin? Well… Iraq isn't a country of "black" people, whatever that means. Iraqis are Arabic. And Israel welcomes people of all races; it is hardly populated by "white" people. We hear constantly how Nelson Mandela is a wise man, but when he makes comments worthy of a bigot, we have to wonder. (Thanks to the the Wall Street Journal's James Taranto for shining a light on this as soon as it appeared.)

Florida Foul-up. Most of us hoped we'd never hear the phrase "Florida Recount" again, yet the Janet Reno-Bill McBride Democratic primary is the center of just such a new situation. The problem, you'll hear, is electronic touch-screens that instantly record the vote and supposedly erase all doubt about a voter's intention. But Tuesday's laugh-fest just proves that more technology is not the answer to everything. What they needed-and still need-is to throw out ballots from voters who don't follow the rules. If a voter needs the help of a poll worker to vote, that's okay. If a voter needs the ballot read out loud to him, that's fine, too. But the burden falls to the voter to follow simple instructions or to seek assistance. It is folly to subject the rest of us to weeks and months of uncertainty as we make up for the careless ones who didn't care enough about the process to, say, pop a little circle out of a piece of paper or write someone's name C L E A R L Y.

Spoken Too Soon. On the morning of 911 at about 11 a.m., CBS News anchor Dan Rather said they had received a formal announcement that Osama bin Laden was dead. They said he had been killed in a Tora Bora bombing run in December, and offered details about who was with him at the time and where the attack took place. But no other outlets seemed to have the story, and the Internet was, amazingly, silent on the matter. In a few hours, CBS retracted the story. A few conclusions: First: Some will say CBS should have held this until they had confirmation, but I say no. They were very clear in saying that this was unconfirmed. It hurt no one to put the story out there. The standards of journalism are changing, for sure, but early incorrect reports are not part of the problem. Thank goodness that Internet journalism is forcing the networks to treat their audiences like big girls and boys. Second: The feeling for a few moments that OBL is dead provides a good lesson: Whether he is dead or not doesn't matter in the prosecution of the war on terror. His network still threatens us. The enemy is taking shaping up to be not merely Al Qaeda but the aggressive forces of radical fundamentalist Islam.

Thunder In The Distance. Islamic militants met in London on 911 to celebrate the anniversary of the death of 3000 innocent people. The group, Al-Muhajiroun, made laughable PR claims that their meeting was scholarly but in fact they spent most of their efforts lauding Osama bin Laden and justifying terrorism. This is the face of our true enemy: those who would undermine nations that tolerate all religions to replace them with Islamic states. It is chilling that the world in general and our allies in particular are so hesitant to fight against these people.

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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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05/13/02: The Carnival at the FAIR: "Unbiased" acquires a new definition
04/22/02: Bottled And Sold: Economic Confidence Under a Screw-top
04/12/02: McGovern's Respectful Dissent
04/02/02: The Right to Do Wrong: The Creator, A Clockwork Orange, and war
03/26/02: The Big Story No One Talks About: Why isn't Washington serious about airport security?
03/18/02: Worlds Away: A snapshot of anti-Semitism in the Moslem world
03/08/02: The safest place in the world --- for now
03/05/02: Some Animals Are More Equal Than Others
02/22/02: And Then What?: Fear and Loathing Around the Corner
02/15/02: Al Gore and the real root cause of terrorism
02/08/02: A few thoughts on the news
02/01/02: Ready, Aim, Cloud The Issue: An irresponsible report on "terrorism" from the Brady Center
01/28/02: Discretion and Art, Part 2
01/16/02: Discretion and Art
01/08/02: Desperate Dems
12/18/01: Politics and Holidays
12/07/01: A war bigger than we know: Changing the future, slowly and surely
11/28/01: A Mid-Winter Night's Dream: A play in one fun act
11/20/01: A Lot of War Left To Fight
11/13/01: Guess who Clinton's apologizing for now: I'll bet you guessed right
11/02/01: Rules for Wartime: Rule Number One: Remember what's true
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?
10/16/01: Questions for the anti-war crowd: If they question you, ask these back
10/12/01: The Jason Problem: Sometimes they only look dead
10/08/01: A little hindsight: A letter for readers in the future
09/28/01: Calling Bono: A plea to the pop culture elite to speak out
09/20/01: Encouragement from the Heartland, by mail
09/13/01: Bleeding time
09/07/01: The trailer-park taste of the public radio catalog
09/04/01: BRAVE NEW FREUD: Internet-based psychiatry may mean relief for those who have shunned treatment
08/17/01: First Amendment: Chickens home to roost
07/27/01: Dispatch From The Front: The Gun Control War
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07/03/01: It's a Wonderful Recount

© 2001, Michael Long