Jewish World Review Jan. 8, 2001 / 24 Teves 5762

Clarence Page

Clarence Page
JWR's Pundits
World Editorial
Cartoon Showcase

Mallard Fillmore

Michael Barone
Mona Charen
Linda Chavez
Ann Coulter
Greg Crosby
Larry Elder
Don Feder
Suzanne Fields
Paul Greenberg
Bob Greene
Betsy Hart
Nat Hentoff
David Horowitz
Marianne Jennings
Michael Kelly
Mort Kondracke
Ch. Krauthammer
Lawrence Kudlow
Dr. Laura
John Leo
David Limbaugh
Michelle Malkin
Chris Matthews
Michael Medved
Kathleen Parker
Wes Pruden
Sam Schulman
Amity Shlaes
Roger Simon
Tony Snow
Thomas Sowell
Cal Thomas
Jonathan S. Tobin
Ben Wattenberg
George Will
Bruce Williams
Walter Williams
Mort Zuckerman

Consumer Reports

Hard-earned lessons from 9-11 -- I HAVE a friend who flies so much I call him "Shuttle." He's been flying a lot less since Sept. 11, like a lot of other corporate road warriors, and making less money. Yet, he seems to be taking the pinch in his profits in stride.

"Yeah, I'm not flying as much," he told me. "But I'm getting reacquainted with my kids. I can get more business. I can't get these kid years again."

Ah, yes. At the dawn of a new year, we're beginning to see what the New Normal looks like in our new era of terrorism. So far, it's not so bad. At least, it is not as bad as a lot of us feared it would be.

Who would have predicted during the trauma and tragedy of 9-11 that we Americans would be entering the New Year marveling at how much the country and, in many cases, our own lives, have improved? Not I.

My rose-colored glasses fogged over amid the tears of 9-11. No matter how many times I tried to mutter the usual mantra that "everything happens for a reason," this attack was too monstrous and its casualties too tragic for me to hope that anything positive could come out of it.

Yet, most Americans -- 63 percent -- say the country has "permanently changed for the better" as a direct consequence of the 9-11 attacks, according to an ABC News-Washington Post poll. More than half of respondents to the poll, which was released on New Year's Day, also said the tragedy had "transformed their own lives" for the better. Only 25 percent, most of them in the East, felt the country had changed for the worse.

Eight out of 10 respondents called their personal outlook for the new year "more hopeful," while only 16 percent were "more fearful."

As the mourning begins to fade and we try to get on with our lives, Americans are finding that we have many blessings to count. Our military's actions have been swift and effective. We were largely reassured, regardless of past political differences, by the near-instant transformations of President Bush and former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani from joke material into true leaders in the model of Winston Churchill pulling the British together under German bombardment.

Many ordinary citizens reassured us further by their great sacrifices and heroic acts. The list begins, but hardly ends, with the fallen police and firefighters at the World Trade Center and the passengers who thwarted the fourth plane's hijacking. It includes every American who responded to adversity with a side that many of us had forgotten or wondered whether we had anymore. Tom Brokaw coined the term "The Greatest Generation" for veterans of the Great Depression and World War II. This younger generation turns out not to be so bad, either, faced with a worthy cause.

In our grief and confusion, we turned for a time, at least, back to houses of worship, reconnecting with friends and family, and a lot of self-reexamination. We looked back the way survivors do through the windows of our lives to see what we had with a burglar's eye, an eye that makes us more appreciative of the people and possessions we usually take for granted.

After months of slow news in which sharks and dangling chads became major issues, we were yanked suddenly into the truly momentous changes in the world. Suddenly, Americans who like to think of foreign relations as something we do for other people, were shocked into two bracing truths: 1) Our primary purpose on the world stage has to be our own national defense and 2) the mere fact that you are the richest, most powerful and the most culturally influential nation is enough to make strangers want to hurt you.

We will continue to feel better as long as there are no further major terror attacks against us. But we also can see an important model of the New Normal in terror suspect Richard Reid's foiled sneaker-bombing. The crew and passengers on his flight apparently foiled the attack, because, while going about their normal, everyday lives, they were alert to the new dangers in the world.

After 9-11, terrorists have lost a major chunk of their big advantage -- the element of surprise. We are a more alert nation now, enriched by a new awareness of the world's dangers and our own capabilities. Although we picked up this new awareness in the worst way, through tragedy and heartache, we are a better people for having learned it.

Comment on JWR contributor Clarence Page's column by clicking here.


12/18/01: Whatever happened to questions about the birds and the bees?
12/14/01: The "White Negro" Taliban?
12/07/01: Jackson's turn to gloat
11/27/01: Friendly warning from a lover of liberty
11/21/01: The face of hunger is changing
11/15/01: Our troubled sense of trust
11/08/01: Lessons about terror from the 'hood
11/06/01: Getting used to the 'new normal'
11/02/01: Wicked ways to make them talk
10/30/01: It's not just about bin Laden
10/26/01: More than mail fell between the cracks
10/23/01: Terrorists threaten urban recovery, too
10/18/01: Sometimes, assassination warranted
10/15/01: Self-censorship rises again
10/12/01: Contradictions illustrate the complicated nature of the new terrorism
10/05/01: Look who's 'profiling' now
10/01/01: Don't trash liberty to save it
09/28/01: Life, love and cell phones during wartime
09/24/01: How to catch an elusive terrorist
09/21/01: The war I was waiting for
09/17/01: When rage turns to hate
09/13/01: Terror attack tests US, let's give right response
09/06/01: U.S. should have stayed and argued
09/04/01: Columbine killer's parents get upclose and personal
08/31/01: Virtual kids? Log me out
08/28/01: Two Africans, one black, one white, same fight
08/23/01: Sharpton for president
08/20/01: Shaking up the rules on keeping secrets
08/16/01: Bush's u-turn on racial goals
08/09/01: Outsider Bubba comes 'in' again
08/06/01: Not ready for 'color-blindness' yet
08/02/01: Immigration timing couldn't be better
07/26/01: Summer of Chandra: An international traveler's perspective
07/17/01: Overthrowing a régime is only the beginning
07/10/01: Big Brother is watching you, fining you
07/05/01: Can blacks be patriotic? Should they be?
06/19/01: Get 'real' about marriage
06/12/01: Amos, Andy and Tony Soprano
06/07/01: Getting tough with the Bush Twins
06/05/01: Bringing marriage back into fashion
05/31/01: "Ken" and "Johnnie": The odd-couple legal team
05/24/01: Sharpton's challenge to Jackson
05/22/01: Test scores equal (a) MERIT? (b) MENACE? (c) ALL OF ABOVE?
05/17/01: Anti-pot politics squeeze the ill
05/15/01: Was Babe Ruth black?
05/10/01: U.N.'s torture caucus slaps Uncle Sam
05/08/01: 'The Sopranos' a reflection of our times
05/03/01: 'Free-fire' zones, then and now
05/01/01: War on drugs misfires against students
04/26/01: Another athlete gets foot-in-mouth disease
04/23/01: 'Slave' boat mystery reveals real tragedy
04/19/01: McVeigh's execution show
04/12/01: Not this time, Jesse
04/05/01: Dubya is DEFINITELY his own man, you fools!
04/02/01: Milking MLK
03/29/01: The candidate who censored himself?
03/22/01: "Will Hispanics elbow blacks out of the way as the nation's most prominent minority group?"
03/19/01: Blacks and the SATs
03/15/01: The census: How much race still matters in the everyday life of America
03/12/01: Jesse is a victim!
03/08/01: Saving kids from becoming killers
03/01/01: Parents owe "Puffy" and Eminem our thanks

© 2001 TMS