Jewish World Review Jan. 24, 2002/ 11 Shevat, 5762

Marianne M. Jennings

Marianne M. Jennings
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Tolerance does not mean stupidity -- O'HENRY'S Ransom of Red Chief comes to mind in the war against terrorism. The tables are as turned as they were in that classic tale of "two desperate men" paying ransom to Ebenezer Dorsett, father of Red Chief, to take back his kidnapped son.

While the U.S. was the victim on September 11, it remains an apologist, running a global sensitivity seminar while trying to wage war. PC forces are actively engaged. Reuters News Service has banned the term "terrorist" as judgmental.

Saudi Prince bin Talal gave $10,000,000 to the victims' relief fund during a visit to Ground Zero. Then he lectured the U.S. on its policies as the root cause of the attacks. Rudy Giuliani was promptly chided for returning the money.

The original "Operation Infinite Justice" name was sacked because it offended Muslims who believe only Allah can administer "infinite justice." We believe G-d to be the ultimate administrator of justice too, but there is temporal jurisdiction for murder.

"Operation Enduring Freedom" was nearly halted during Ramadan because Muslim leaders hooted. The State Department wrung its hands. Reason, Rumsfield and bombing prevailed. California middle schools now mandate Islam studies and encourage children to dress as Muslims and stage pilgrimages. The culture and faith of the terrorists is now mandatory public education in the U.S. Move over John Walker Lindh.

Prisoners of war are fussing. Aly Abuzaakouk, of the American Muslim Council, called shaving the heads and beards of al Qaeda fighters "humiliating." Hair removal was the only method for delousing that was available in Afghanistan. Prior to boarding them on ships bound for Guantanamo Bay the Navy felt it hygienically best that the men be shaved and shorn. War is hell.

Still more objections arose over prisoners' breakfasts of bagels and cream cheese, culturally strange to the Arab Middle East. According to Democrats, U.S. children are starving without federally funded school breakfasts. Eat the bagels and be grateful!

The war on the home front is just plain prissy. John Ashcroft offers cryptic statements on "highest alert." He speaks in code, fearing terrorism less than the label of intolerance.

Between the lines, we understand; but he won't say, "If you see Khalid Ibn Muhamma al-Juhani around a nuclear plant, call." Pity the conflicted souls outside those California schools as scores of teens arrived dressed for Muslim appreciation day.

Tolerance comes naturally to those of us who subscribe to the divine roots of man. Respect for beliefs comes very easily to those of us whose religions are verboten in public schools, public squares, and public holidays. However, this is war. It is unnatural to ask tolerance over suspicion of the enemy living among us. All terrorist acts committed or thwarted to date involved Arab Middle Eastern and Muslim men. The most-wanted lists and newly released videotapes include no Aussies.

Yet airport security continues its wide net. For a recent flight from Oakland to Phoenix, I was targeted as a dangerous one-way ticket purchaser. At security I had a pat down and a look-see in my slacks by a tiny Chinese man not fluent in English. At the gate, I was searched again, to the delight of boarding passengers who saw it as folly. Security personnel dissected my Talbot's ballet flats for explosives. But Richard Reid, a disheveled Arab male with Herman Munster shoes, complete with bomb wicks, could board a trans-Atlantic flight.

Standing on our front lawns clucking like chickens whilst swinging phones over our heads holds equivalent hope for eradicating terrorism. The first step to successful airport security is the admission that Arab males ticketed for flights in this country are walking probable causes. Question them accordingly and constitutionally.

But the litigious PC crowd has emerged. The ACLU sent a letter to 10 countries, including Saudi Arabia and Yemen, with an offer, "We are particularly interested in highlighting instances of abuse by our government and in developing systematic litigation. . . ." Wallid Shatter, the Arab-American Secret Service agent detained on Christmas day by American Airlines, has demanded sensitivity training for airline employees in lieu of litigation. He was reading The Crusades Through Arab Eyes while waiting for his flight. Passengers, being Ashcroft-ever-vigilant, would have been fools not to raise questions about him.

Military action and sensitivity don't mix. Lice trump religious beards. War trumps holiday breaks. Safety trumps offense. Tolerance does not mean stupidity.

O'Henry's two desperate men reached utter frustration with their captive, "One more night of this kid will send me to a bed in Bedlam. . .. We'll take him home, pay the ransom and make our getaway." The U.S. announced $300 million in aid to rebuild Afghanistan so as not to cause an uprising by the neighbors. O'Henry's plot continues.

JWR contributor Marianne M. Jennings is a professor of legal and ethical studies at Arizona State University. Send your comments by clicking here.


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10/26/01: An epidemic of counselitis
10/16/01: A touch of class
10/12/01: Of human nature and monsters
10/05/01: Sensitive man
10/01/01: Post-September 11 security
09/20/01: No tinhorn terrorists can frighten us
09/06/01: If there is no honor in youth sports, it is because of the adults
08/27/01: The draw of Condit
08/23/01: Lowering expectations and flying high
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04/27/01: The Horowitz revelations as seen by a college professor
04/20/01: First, let's kill all the tests
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© 2002, Marianne M. Jennings