SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

May 1, 2013

Anderson: The zenith of absurdity

Barbara Anderson
The Salem News

---- — “Two weeks ago today, two brothers are alleged to have set off a bomb at the finish line of the Boston Marathon that left three dead — including an 8-year-old boy — and injured 282. At least 14 lost limbs. Our president implored us not to “jump to conclusions” and thus end up stereotyping his favorite faith. ... In the interim, a friend sent me a link to the FBI’s Most Wanted Terrorists website. With one exception (a convert named Adam), all had names like Ibrahim, Abdul, Omar, Jamal, Abdullah, Ramadan, Hasan, Mohammed and Muhammad. Just a coincidence, I’m sure.”

— Don Feder, “It’s the Islam, Stupid”

Don Feder was my boss, from 1978-1980, until he left Citizens for Limited Taxation and I eventually took over his job as executive director. Back then, he was a libertarian, now is far more a traditional conservative; though we keep in touch, we have had our differences over the years. Ascribing blame for the Boston terrorist attack isn’t one of them.

Sometimes I’m uncomfortable, expressing outrage over things that have not directly affected me as they have more justifiably outraged people. No one I know was killed in the twin towers or injured in Boston. My son called to check on me last week; he also wanted to note that while I fretted about his taking my grandchildren to Mexico for spring break, he could have brought them here to visit me and then to view the marathon instead.

I get the point: There is no safe place, no reason to spend my life worrying, so I shouldn’t have called his cellphone in Baja because I read about revolutionaries battling the drug cartel in a town on the Mexican mainland, “on the other side of the Sea of Cortez, Mother!”

Grandmothers will worry as long as there’s evil in the world. So even if we haven’t suffered a terrible loss ourselves, one of the things that make us human gives us empathy with other people: Our imagination easily places us where they are, in a hospital, at a funeral. We even have empathy with people very different from us, as we send contributions for disaster relief to faraway countries.

And those who have no empathy, the terrorists who kill and maim innocent children? We need to define “human,” leaving them out. Somewhere, evolution failed them and would have flunked our entire species if they had passed on their evil indifference over the centuries as a dominant gene.

Being Jewish, Don has long had “standing” for outrage, with Islamic jihadists targeting him and the Jewish homeland Israel for destruction. Today, we realize all Americans have standing.

I remember almost with nostalgia when our greatest fear was nuclear war with the Russians. Now the Russians try to warn us that we have a terrorist in our midst.

Wait for it: The government agencies that failed to communicate with each other, again, will quickly respond that Putin can’t be trusted. Oh, spare me; just admit you screwed up. I know that Russia has been harsh in its resistance to Chechnya independence, but the Chechen rebels held hostages in a Moscow theater in 2002 and armed Islamic separatists took more than 700 Russian schoolchildren hostage in the North Caucuses in 2004; hundreds died.

There are other rebels fighting dictators, but in some cases wanting a new government that is fundamentalist Islamic; we can only hope both sides lose. It’s too bad about the good people who just want a decent country like ours, but we can’t fight everyone’s battles around the world. Our role as Americans is what was intended by our Founding Fathers, to create a nation that other nations can aspire to become, and which will welcome immigrants who want to assimilate into this kind of country. We are starting to lose our exceptionalism, and if we do, the entire world’s humanity is threatened.

So much that is going wrong here has been spotlighted by recent events. There’s the political correctness that assaults the First Amendment, discouraging negative comment about a religion that doesn’t allow freedom of religion in the countries it controls. How can Islamists who don’t believe in our Bill of Rights, or equal rights for women, become legal immigrants, then American citizens?

What’s with the welfare benefits for an able-bodied immigrant who becomes a terrorist? Why are we allowing any immigrants to come here just to get on welfare?

And here’s the zenith of absurdity: We have a governor who insists that a dead Islamic terrorist has a “right to privacy” so we taxpayers can’t be told how much he and his terrorist brother received in government benefits before they killed and maimed Americans. With the insistence of the media, the Patrick administration has released some information to a legislative oversight committee, where it will remain secret because apparently the legislators are not allowed to share it with the public.

Gov. Patrick says he understands that people are curious, but the records are private. Understand this, Governor: I want to know if I helped fund the terrorists, and why, and what has gone wrong with this commonwealth, and this country.

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Barbara Anderson of Marblehead is a regular Salem News columnist.