Dispatches > The Buzz


Issue: "Homeland insecurity," Nov. 10, 2001

YANKEE DOODLE GAGGED: College administrators like to think of themselves as champions of free speech-unless, it seems, that speech is patriotic. Columnist Paul Craig Roberts listed a series of incidents that he says shows that academia is bending over backwards to be sensitive to Muslims at maximum damage to loyal Americans. In various cases from coast to coast, administrators are ordering students to take down flags, ribbons, and other regalia and sanctioning professors who speak out in favor of the war. "It is permissible to burn the American flag on university campuses," Mr. Roberts writes. "But don't try waving one." LIFE GOES ON: P. J. O'Rourke gives readers an uncharacteristically serious article in The Atlantic Monthly describing the surreal scene of Washington, D.C., on Sept. 11. After the rush of people out of the Beltway, "for the first time in thirteen years in Washington, I saw no protesters." The day before the attack, he was working on a story about Israel and was wondering what to do with it. He says he had described "a country that has been under terrorist attack for generations ... and where I had found daily life to be markedly free of the effects that terrorism is supposed to produce." He concludes that life will go on likewise in America, even amidst chaos. "In Israel waves of anger and fear circulate all the time, but so do jokes, and gossip, and silky evening breezes," he writes. "So, too, in America." THE CARD THAT WASN'T: The proposed National ID card may never become reality. Reporter Joseph Menn reports in the Los Angeles Times that Congress and the While House are cool to the idea and that supporters are slipping away. Oracle CEO Larry Ellison made a splashy offer to donate the database software for such a system, but neither the Justice Department nor the Bush administration say they are considering it. Sen. Dianne Feinstein reportedly supported the system, but Mr. Menn reports that she backed away from it and now only supports ID for non-citizens who enter the country. Civil libertarians and many conservatives oppose National ID plans, which means that any proposal would face a wall of bipartisan opposition. Mr. Menn quotes Harvard researcher David Banisar saying that this is one of America's "third-rail issues" that "tends to die pretty quick." YOU'RE NOT A TARGET: Stop being hysterical about anthrax. That's what science writer Michael Fumento urges in The Washington Times. Mr. Fumento points out that anthrax is usually treatable and victims often survive even without antibiotics. Compared to the 800 people who die from car accidents every week, this threat is tiny. He argues that the hysterical false alarms for substances like pudding mix and powdered sugar only undermine American resolve. "Let's assume you a receive a letter in the mail with powder. It's almost certainly a very unfunny hoax," the Hudson Institute senior fellow writes. "All the anthrax-laden letters so far have been mailed to those in high-profile positions or handled by them. No offense, but you probably don't qualify." BAD NEWS IS NO NEWS: When terrorists killed Christians in Pakistan (see page 22), it received only moderate coverage from the major TV networks. The Media Research Center reports that on the Oct. 28 evening news shows, NBC gave the massacre a full story, while ABC chose to concentrate on civilian victims of American bombs. ABC's World News Tonight gave it no coverage on either the 28th or 29th. CBS Evening News did not air that day (a Sunday) and the story was quickly summarized the next day in a way that implied blame on the United States. "Religious tensions are running higher after the U.S.-led terror war in Afghanistan touched off such events as a funeral today for Pakistani Christians gunned down during church services yesterday," said Dan Rather. The MRC quoted Fred Barnes saying on the Fox News Channel that "if this had been an errant American bomb that hit this church it probably would have gotten bigger play in the American press."

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