Here’s a blunt piece by columnist Jay Bookman of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution offering a few obvious but welcome truths about American (in)security. He’s written a number of strong, angry columns in recent months. Even in the mainstream media, you can sense a subtle change of reportorial tone — an uneasiness about this administration rising, on op-ed pages sometimes, to something like anger.
82-year-old former UPI reporter Helen Thomas (now a columnist for Hearst), for instance, recently offered these words in a talk at MIT:
“I censored myself for 50 years when I was a reporter. Now I wake up and ask myself, ‘Who do I hate today?’I have never covered a president who actually wanted to go to war. Bush’s policy of pre-emptive war is immoral – such a policy would legitimize Pearl Harbor. It’s as if they learned none of the lessons from Vietnam., Where is the outrage? Where is Congress? They’re supine! Bush has held only six press conferences, the only forum in our society where a president can be questioned. I’m on the phone to [press secretary] Ari Fleischer every day, asking will he ever hold another one? The international world is wondering what happened to America’s great heart and soul.” . . . “Again and again, Thomas warned the MIT audience, ‘It’s bombs away for Iraq and on our civil liberties if Bush and his cronies get their way. Dissent is patriotic!'”
Aim is off in our quest for security
By Jay Bookman, December 5, 2002, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
The United States is bordered only by Mexico and Canada, neither of which is particularly dangerous. And we will soon be spending more money on our national defense than the rest of the world combined.
So do Americans feel safe?
And if the answer is no, why not?
In some ways, it may be a matter of perception. We seek the unattainable, which is perfect security. We Americans have also developed a tendency to magnify even slight threats into something far more dire. In fact, it’s dismaying to see the American people, once proud and brave, become so frightened by their own government’s rhetoric.
For example, we have somehow been deluded into believing that Saddam Hussein poses a serious threat to our national safety. He does not.