Jewish World Review Jan. 9, 2002 / 25 Teves, 5762

Stanley Crouch

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U.S. can't let its guard down now -- NEW YORK | THERE are many who say that they are happy that 2001 is gone, as though the troubles that rose up in September have dissolved.

They have not.

We are now faced with a set of troubles that will continue to make demands on our resources and that will, now and again, snap us to attention through the slaughtering of civilians.

That's what time it is. I am not trying to sound alarmist, only face where we are.

This battle with terrorism is something new to us. It's not about going to war with a particular nation.

True, we smashed the Taliban, putting on quite a display of what sustained bombing can do.

No, we did not get the kind of whipping that the Russians received in Afghanistan.

But Osama Bin Laden is now nowhere to be found. Same with Mullah Mohammed Omar.

This means - unless both were killed but had given their followers orders to say they still lived - we have a very determined enemy on the loose.

In short, all is not back to normal, regardless of how quickly our television programming leaped again into its fundamental empty-headedness, vulgarity and exploitation.

Things are not now the same as they were, no matter how consistently the networks and the bulk of the cable commentators proved their inability to do anything other than paste decals on complex problems and move on to the next sound bite.

We have to keep in mind that these terrorists took eight years to bring off on Sept. 11 what was first attempted here in 1993. They believe in the adage, "If at first you don't succeed, try, try again."

Unless behind bars or intimidated into inaction, they remain dangerous and willing to go the distance.

That's the ice-cold way it is.

So must we be willing to go the distance.

With Bin Laden and most of his top men apparently somewhere out there, we cannot pretend that our immigration policies can slide back to what they were before Sept. 11.

Anyone attempting to enter this country from a hostile Muslim nation, or who is an avowed Muslim, as we recently learned with the alleged shoe bomber, should be thoroughly checked out before coming to America.

That will be described as anti-Islamic bigotry at first, but, in the long run, it will enrage Muslims against terrorists, not us, and might well lead to the authorities being supplied with some solid information on the whereabouts of those kinds of enemies.

Our most complex job is maintaining our constitutional freedom and our safety while responding within reason to where we are in the world right now.

Just as our new mayor promised to keep the city safe from criminals, our government should use every rational measure across this nation to protect citizens from small numbers of men willing to murder many.

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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08/21/01: Is Sharpton a changed man?
08/03/01: A writer misuses the great Louis Armstrong
07/20/01: When murder is justified
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06/29/01: The soul and pluck of women are to this nation's development
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