Unpopular Notions

By Linda A. Prussen-Razzano

Featured Rightgrrl April 1999
October 30, 2001

Although itís only been several weeks since the face, and psyche, of America was irrevocably changed on September 11, 2001, an increasing number of commentators are hesitantly addressing the publicís growing "impatience" with our War on Terror. Perhaps Americans believed that our vastly superior nuclear arsenal was enough to deter any potential threat; perhaps Americans believed our vastly superior armed forces were enough to expeditiously hunt down and destroy any foe. Some Americans, while firmly in lock step support behind the President, are nonetheless questioning our national resolve.

Their questioning is by no means unpatriotic. There appears to be several areas where the Bush Administrationís resolve seems to not yet match the strong words and equally stronger deeds taking place in Afghanistan.

While we presumably declared war on terrorism, Congress has yet to formally declare war on anyone. Granted, Public Law 104-264 states "that if evidence establishes beyond a clear and reasonable doubt that any act of hostility towards any United States citizen was an act of international terrorism sponsored, organized, condoned, or directed by any nation, a state of war should be considered to exist or to have existed between the United States and that nation, beginning as of the moment that the act of aggression occurs." The conditional set of circumstances described in this law existed on September 11, 2001, allowing the Bush Administration to act as if Congress had, in fact, declared war. They are walking a fine line; they have granted the government certain powers while still refraining from the official declaration. An official declaration would negate the billions of dollars in insurance claims being filed by survivors and their families, hinder our ability to conduct a military campaign as we desire, and heighten the degree to which we enflame other Muslim countries.

Nevertheless, an official declaration of war would cease the prattle from waffling pundits and reporters; would set America back on the appropriate mental footing necessary for the full-scale, long-term engagement this endeavor requires. If, as the government warns, another attack is eminent, expect an official Congressional declaration to follow almost immediately.

Second, the recently passed anti-terrorism legislation grants expansive powers to the federal government. While these powers are, without question, necessary for our present circumstances, the current Administration will not remain in the White House indefinitely. Most Americans, extremely comfortable with Bush/Cheney at the helm, find little reason for concern that a good portion of these expanded powers do not "sunset." In truth, the Bush Administration fought against including sunset provisions on any part of the bill. When the White House changes hands, as it inevitably will, these powers will now be at the command of an Administration we may later come to distrust, or even regret. Those who question the anti-terrorism legislation are not pro-terrorist by any stretch of the imagination; they are concerned we will see the day when such legislation Ė meant to protect us Ė will be used against us.

Third, the Justice Department currently has almost 1,000 individuals in custody. These individuals were detained because they had potential ties to terrorist groups, cells, or activities. Many of them are not American citizens, but visiting here on Visas hastily issued or falsely obtained. President Bush would be wise to follow the example of President Carter during the Iran Hostage Crisis, when Carter summarily withdrew all Visas from Iranian students and sent them packing. Anyone here on a Visa is visiting our country at our discretion. Visiting our country is not a right, it is a privilege. Individuals who are not American citizens, who have arrived here (whether directly or indirectly) from known states that sponsor terrorism, should be deported. En masse. Immediately. They can reapply, if desired, and their credentials reviewed again at our leisure.

Some may argue that the second and third points are contradictory; on the contrary, the second strives to retain rights enumerated in the Constitution. In the case of the third point, a Visa is an extension of a privilege, not a right. Revoking the privileges of non-citizens does not endanger the rights of citizens.

Fourth, we must return to the practice of racial profiling. It will focus our resources in a manner necessary to expeditiously facilitate justice. If I was robbed by a 6í tall white man with blond hair and blue eyes, does that mean the police should view an elderly black woman with white hair and brown eyes as a potential suspect? Of course not. But in the eyes of those who fight against racial profiling as an investigative tool, this simple logic is easily lost in emoting and demagoguery.

My German grandparents were subjected to racial profiling during World War II. My husbandís Italian ancestors experienced the same. If the terrorist were all Anglo-Saxon blond women with blue eyes who practiced Catholicism, I would expect folks to view me with mild discomfort, too. Guess what? Iím a big girl. My ancestors didnít sob and moan about natural speculation in a time of war; I wouldnít either.

Finally, Americans should visit Ground Zero to see the destruction for themselves. Those who honestly think we should dismiss this act of monstrous brutality, who ignore 20 years of escalating terrorism with cries of "peace," need to face the stark reality that still exists where the World Trade Towers once stood. Our efforts towards "peace" were rewarded with staggering death and destruction. Peace will only reign again when the enemy, the threat, is eliminated.

Copyright 2001 by Linda A. Prussen-Razzano. Not to be reproduced in any fashion, in whole or in part, without written consent from the author. All rights reserved.