As I was watching the Republican debate Tuesday night, I wondered once again what the men and women who went through the Depression and World War II would think of their country now, which seems to be in full-scale panic mode about the prospect of a terrorist attack.
What would the Greatest Generation think, for example, about whole school districts closing merely because of threats from questionable e-mails (Los Angeles Unified) or because of something someone scrawled on a bathroom wall (our own absurd Eastern KY University).
What would they think about a whole population that can be brought to its emotional knees by one relatively minor terrorist attack?
Fourteen people died in San Bernadino, California at the hands of Islamicist terrorists. The attack was, of course, frightening.
I'm sure that the deaths of the fourteen people in San Bernadino was the most important thing in the world to their family and friends, and that's as it should be. But the rest of us need to get a grip. As an occasion for the personal grief among the people who knew the victims it is cause for grief and outrage, and as a policy matter it is something we surely need to consider carefully and to take sober measures of preventing it from happening again.
But ants kill 30 people a year and falling out of bed kills about 450 people a year. Coconuts kill 150 people per year, icicles in Russia 100. In fact, tap water kills 100 people per year. But these things are not covered in long repetitive segments for days on end on CNN.
But in this day and age when full-time newscasts take every outrage and magnify it 100-fold, it is sometimes hard to maintain the proper perspective.
Now this will be received as hard medicine by those of us who are slaves to the news-cycle, where every little event is blown into mammoth proportions and becomes the excuse for hasty and heedless policy prescriptions which are urged on us in urgent tones—and which must be implemented now or we'll all die.
I attribute all of this also to the simple fact that we are spoiled, soft people who live in easy conditions that, in any other place and time, would be thought lax and effeminate.
No one up until our time would have considered a terrorist act of such a limited magnitude to constitute the kind of crisis we now think it is. And anyone suggesting that it was would been told that they need to get a grip and to think about how minor this was in the total scheme of things in a world in which a war (WWII) had just killed from 50 to 80 million people and caused the devastation and homelessness of millions more and where in the decade before that millions were impoverished by bank closures and loss of jobs and where a decade before that some 38 million people were killed in the war (WWI) that was supposed to "end all wars."
Heck, even Korea and the Vietnam War are still within living memory.
People need to stop watching Anderson Cooper and start reading William Shirer. They need to start reading history to give them some kind of context to current events. Of course, that assumes that people can still read, and, if they can, even know that there is history to be read.
Unfortunately, our schools today have performed the cultural equivalent of a lobotomy on a whole people. Now that's a crisis. Somebody ought panic about that.
I'm with the French on this one: Find out who committed the atrocity and kill them. Otherwise, continue to lead your life normally. It's the worst thing you can do to the terrorists.
In fact, the next time I hear about how wimpy the French are, I'm going to remind the imbecilic American person saying it how we, as a matter of course, react to these things compared to the French.