Guest Opinion:

Be Judgmental, Intolerant Of World's Evil Forces

By Marianne M. Jennings
September 27, 2001


On Sept. 10, when the EEOC filed an employment discrimination lawsuit against it, Morgan Stanley had employee trouble. On Sept. 11, that all changed. Morgan Stanley, occupying 25 floors in the World Trade Center, had trouble finding some of its employees.

On Sept. 10, the biggest news story was still Gary Condit. On Sept. 11, that all changed. We forgot Mr. Condit and Connie Chung existed.

On Sept. 10, Congress bickered with the President over surpluses and lock boxes. On Sept. 11, that all changed. Congress hoped for black boxes and doubled the President's $20 billion request for anti-terrorism efforts.

On Sept. 10, President Bush seemed awkward of speech and boyish in mannerisms. On Sept. 11, that all changed. President Bush became eloquent through compassion, confident in resolve and charming with hard hats.

On Sept. 10, we were a nation indifferent to or irritated by religion. On Sept. 11, that all changed. There are no atheists in foxholes or homelands under attack.

On Sept. 10, flags in stores collected dust. On Sept. 11, that all changed. Kmart and Wal-Mart posted signs, "Out of flags. On order."

On Sept. 10, we patted Israel on the head when it warned of stealth operatives. On Sept. 11, that all changed. We experienced what Israel has endured for far too many years with far too little empathy or help.

What a difference a day makes. Our lives and attitudes have changed, but not enough. This airport security obsession is superficial balm for a nation with flight jitters. Osama bin Laden will not be deterred by plastic bagel knife mandates on airplanes. Our enemy is whipped into a frenzy that began 21 years ago with the Ayatollah Khomeini's call for jihad. Mr. bin Laden has inspired far-flung cells of Arabs who are committed to cleansing the world of U.S. evil, soldiers and civilians alike.

The al-Qaida will not disappear without war. War means targeting the enemy, which means diversity platitudes go. A statement of the obvious: The next time folks named Mohamed, Abdul or Fayez, as three of the hijackers were, show up at Boston's Logan and try to purchase one-way tickets for cross-country flights, the answer is, "No!"

This is an act of profiling. It is not, however, an act of discrimination. It is logical conduct based on this information: 100 percent of the time, when hijacked domestic airliners have crashed into buildings in the United States, Arabs have been responsible. Not employing the laws of probability in fighting an enemy of singular heritage is insanity.

Questioning Inge in her lederhosen at the airport does not prevent hijacking by Arab men. Our kamikaze enemies capitalized on our "enlightened" non-judgmentalism. They made no effort to disguise their identities. Messrs. Al-Shehhi, Alomari, Alshehri, Atta, et al. trained, bragged and boarded planes right under our noses and those of the FBI and CIA.

This bright and determined enemy plotted, planned, and studied for nearly five years to give up their lives for fell swoop mass destruction. Their Palestinian comrades then cheered in the streets as they watched nearly 7,000 Americans die.

So long as these amoral factions exist, they will pierce new security measures. Should we close airport loopholes, they'll switch to nuclear plants and sports facilities.

With the harsh reality of a two-decade-strong army of hidden zealots, is it hopeless? Never! Those Sept. 11 stories of fate and irrational results from a new day of infamy temporarily frighten us. A flight missed. A flight postponed. A son taken to his first day of school and a late arrival at work. There is no rhyme or reason as to why some escaped the wrath and havoc of terrorism and others met an unimaginable fate. Life has its unknowns. Tragedies are not always divinely foreclosed.

But that realization is our hope. We are perplexed, but not in despair. Cast down, but not destroyed. Living in fear of evil is a miserable existence. Those who cower succumb. Victory comes through defiance of evil, not the pitiful actions of mitigation. President Bush, after being squirreled around the country for half a day because of nervous Secret Service agents, eventually put down his boot and said, "No tinhorn terrorist is going to keep the President out of Washington."

Never send to know for whom the bell tolls. Just keep the tinhorn terrorists from having access to the bells. Then find the tinhorns and eliminate them for the sake of tomorrow. Righteous indignation coupled with a judgmental intolerance for evil forces are our hope. Don't go wobbly with diversity and fear - Sept. 11 should have changed all of that.

Marianne M. Jennings is a professor of legal and ethical studies at Arizona State University. Her e-mail address is mmjdiary@aol.com.


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