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Jewish World Review Dec. 10, 2001 /25 Kislev 5762

Don Feder

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Treason chic started in the '60s -- WHEN I look at the face of John Philip Walker, the 20-year-old American captured in Afghanistan, I see newspaper photos of the innocents killed by his comrades on Sept. 11. By defending mass murderers, he shares in their guilt, and should share in their fate.

Walker is another bored child of privilege who chose the path of revolution. His family offers the predictable excuses. Marilyn Walker says her darling must have been brainwashed -- on the theory that middle-class kids are incapable of consciously choosing evil.

Walker's father told talk-show host Larry King he wanted to give his son "a big hug and a kick in the butt, too." Climb up on my knee, sonny boy. With your AK-47, sonny boy.

But what can you expect from the insanely indulgent parents who would allow a 16-year-old to convert to Islam and then traipse off to Yemen a year later.

Walker (aka, Abdul Hamid) was taken with a group of Taliban militia who'd staged a revolt in the Mazar-e-Sharif prison, where CIA agent John Michael Spann was killed.

Abu Gucci says that while studying in Pakistan, his "heart became attached" to the Taliban's gentle teachings. Subsequently, the bearded Benedict Arnold traveled to Afghanistan, trained in one of Osama bin Laden's camps and, according to his own account, fought with the terrorists in Kunduz, Kabul and Kandahar.

Walker is old enough to understand the nature of treason. Many of the Marines serving in Afghanistan aren't much older.

Treason has always been counted among the most loathsome of crimes. Sir Walter Scott said a traitor's destiny was to "go down to the vile dust, from whence he sprung, unwept, unhonored, and unsung."

Like our families, our nation gives us an identity and nurtures us. In the case of America, it also offers unparalleled personal freedom and prosperity. To turn against such a nation is an act of ingratitude that must make the angels sigh.

But since the '60s, treason has been sheik, especially among the elite (who are traitors in their hearts). At worst, turncoats are treated leniently. At best, they become cultural icons or tenured professors.

Sara Jane Olson, the former Symbionese Liberation Army gun moll, will be sentenced on Jan. 18. Olson pleaded guilty to plotting to place pipe bombs under police cars in 1974. (A judge refused to let her withdraw the plea.) Olson's lawyer admitted her client acted incautiously but noted it was a time when many young people questioned authority -- as if pipe bombs were the same as protest signs.

Lori Berenson's supporters are still trying to get her sprung from a Peruvian poky. The American was convicted of operating a safe house for Tupac Amaru terrorists and sentenced to 20 years.

Berenson claims she has no idea how several truckloads of arms and explosives ended up in her home. While avowing her innocence, she insists the Tupac Amaru are revolutionaries, not terrorists, and refuses to criticize the Latin equivalent of Hamas.

In 1980, Bernardine Dohrn, late of the Weather Underground, was allowed to plead guilty to bail-jumping and aggravated assault in relation to her youthful indiscretions, and fined $1,500. (Later, she was jailed for seven months for refusing to testify about a bank job in which two cops were killed.) Now, Dohrn is on the faculty of Northwestern University's law school.

These graying guerrillas may not fit the constitutional definition of treason, but like Jane Fonda (who made propaganda broadcasts for Hanoi during the Vietnam War) they were part of a Fifth Column allied with our enemies. None has expressed an ounce of remorse.

In the Vietnam Era, we embraced the notion that idealism excuses treason -- that commitment to a cause (especially the downtrodden) makes conspiring to kill cops, abetting Marxist thugs or posing with an enemy anti-aircraft battery acceptable behavior. After Sept. 11, we are seeing things more clearly.

When asked about Walker at a Senate hearing, Attorney General John Ashcroft observed, "History has not looked kindly upon those who ... go and fight against their countries." When coupled with Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's comments that Walker "was fighting on the Al Qaeda side," it doesn't take a crystal ball to see Dad delivering his hugs during visiting hours at Leavenworth.

JWR contributing columnist Don Feder's latest books are Who is afraid of the Religious Right? ($15.95) and A Jewish conservative looks at pagan America ($9.95). To receive an autographed copy, send a check or money order to: Don Feder, The Boston Herald, 1 Herald Sq., Boston, Mass. 02106. Doing so will help fund JWR, if so noted. He is also available as a guest speaker. To comment on this column please click here.

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© 2001, Creators Syndicate