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Jewish World Review Dec. 7, 2001 / 22 Kislev, 5762

Tony Snow

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Musings -- Today is December 7th, the date that has lived in infamy for sixty years -- and that occupies a very special place in the hearts of a generation that weathered the Great Depression, only to find itself responsible for fighting the bloodiest war ever.

Now, those of us born after World War II have a benchmark of our own: September 11th. We're fortunate our present war hasn't drawn away an entire generation of young men, nor has reduced us to rationing and privation. Still, its calling forth qualities we didn't know we had -- courage, determination, perseverance, and even patriotism.

Exploding towers awakened us to the enormous blessings that depend on America's stability and strength. The sacrifice of firefighters and police and the valor of passengers of United Flight 93 assured us that every American has the makings of a hero.

Still, the most important date will not be the one that marked the beginning of hostilities, but the one that will signal the end.

Radio and television stations have all but ignored one of the most important developments in the war on terror: The explosion of gun purchases in the United States.

California recently passed a law that dramatically raises the costs of legal guns -- but that hasn't stopped residents from procuring new firearms.

Ditto for Maryland, which had hoped to stamp out handgun sales. According to the National Criminal Background Check, gun sales since September 11th are up 21 percent from a similar period the year before. This has left gun control advocates somewhat despondent, but it also says something important about the American psyche.

We're not a bloodthirsty nation, and we don't like gratuitous mayhem -- but when we come under attack, we have a long history of stepping forward and trying to rebuff the bad guys. More than 80 million people own guns of some description -- but gun violence actually has fallen in recent years, as firearm ownership has risen.


Well, would you mess with someone packing heat?

I understand pacifism, I really do.

But right now, pacifists are finding themselves in a bad crowd. The once-interesting Gore Vidal, who's busy promoting a book that portrays contemporary America as a high-tech Nazi Germany, is accusing his former homeland of "waging a perpetual war for perpetual peace," and says we ought to stop Osama bin Laden with bribes rather than bombs.

Then, there's novelist Norman Mailer -- who once used his prestige to spring a convicted murderer named Jack Henry Abbott, who then proceeded to murder someone else.

Mailer all but praised the September 11th bombing in an interview with a Dutch newspaper. He expressed the conviction that the World Trade Center was an architectural atrocity that permitted the occupants of the top floors to look down on other people, literally and figuratively.

And historian Howard Zinn told a Massachusetts High School class that American military action in Afghanistan puts our government on a par with terrorists.

Now this merely proves that while not all pacifists are idiots, some are.

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