How stupid are we? Part II

By Ellen Ratner

Last week, I wrote about how stupid the right-wing was in failing to promote even minimal steps to protect ourselves from this murdering sicko currently wreaking havoc inside the Beltway. In particular, I advocated ballistic fingerprinting of bullets to guns. Now, even the NRA’s home-away-from-home (otherwise known as the White House) has agreed to consider the measure.

But just to prove that I don’t discriminate, now it’s the left’s turn to take it on the ear for precisely the same reason: allowing ideology, in this case an obsession with civil rights (to the exclusion of everything else) to cloud their judgment and lead them to object to our government – the Defense Department to be exact – lending a hand in trying to catch this (expletive deleted) sniper.

It’s been reported that Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has agreed to make available to Beltway-area police extremely sophisticated surveillance aircraft – some rumors have it that these are the same type of unmanned drones that were used in Afghanistan to provide critical intelligence on Taliban and al-Qaida forces. But Rumsfeld isn’t specifying which type of aircraft he’ll use, or what their capabilities are. And with good reason: Why provide the sniper with advance warning of what precisely he must do or avoid doing to beat detection?

Now everybody knows that the military are forbidden to serve in domestic law enforcement. And also with good reason: Conservatives and liberals alike probably agree that nobody wants the military playing cops anywhere other than on military bases. Beside the fact that they’re not really trained for it, there is also a powerful constitutional objection – no generalissimos for the good-old U.S. of A.

But now it’s reported that the ACLU is upset with Rumsfeld’s common-sense gesture. What I said last week about how the right-wing fears the mythical Slippery Slope applies with equal force to the left-wing. Some of these groups see an unmanned drone (if that’s what type of aircraft it is) as the first step in a military takeover of the United States. At the bottom of the left’s Slippery Slope is the fantasy of some man in a black uniform walking around demanding to see everybody’s “papers.”

So I will give my left-wing pals the same answer I gave the right last week: Poppycock! This is a case where, as John Adams once observed, “Ideology is idiocy!” When faced with a real problem, Americans have always reached for common-sense answers. In this case, if surveillance aircraft can save lives and catch a killer, who would object but an ideologue?

In both cases – the right’s refusal to consider ballistic fingerprinting and the left’s hysterics over the prospect of drones temporarily deployed to end the Beltway horror – these political extremes betray a terrible lack of trust in their fellow citizens. The armed services – who after all, consist of our own children, friends and neighbors – are no more inclined toward a military government than the FBI has the wherewithal or even cares about “disarming” America. If some uniformed lamebrain wanted to use this to launch a coup d’ etat, he’d wind up in the Looney Bin long before he’d ever see the inside of a jail. And believe me, as I know from my own e-mail, there’s not a politician alive who has the popular political support to “disarm” the folks. That’s not going to happen in this country, period.

So my strong suggestion to those lefties quaking in their boots over the prospect of Donald Rumsfeld declaring a state of emergency and seizing the government is: “Lighten up!” Let the civilian police authorities accept the military’s offer to help out with surveillance.

Maybe concerns about civil rights ought to focus on the civil rights of the nine people murdered so far; or the civil rights of hundreds of thousands of schoolchildren too scared to go out for recess; or the civil rights of thousands who may be deprived of proper law enforcement because every man and woman who wears a badge is tied up beating the bushes to flush out this homicidal snake. This time, maybe the words, “I’m from the government and I’m here to help you” just might be true.