Tuesday, July 27, 2004


"Think of it always; speak of it never."

That was how Leon Gambetta wanted France to approach the lost provinces of Alsace and Lorraine after 1871. In French hearts and French minds, the matter was not closed. But he knew that hot talk would only complicate French diplomacy and possibly provoke another war with Germany-- a war she could not win in the 1870s.

The quote came to mind while i was pondering the "Terror in the Skies" mini-controversy. But it really fits with the whole question of citizen response in a time of terror.

We are fooling ourselves to think that our intelligence can ever be good enough to disrupt every terrorist threat before they get underway. We need good ground-level police work and community involvement.

I firmly believe that we citizens have a role to play in protecting ourselves and our neighbors. That is true for the terrorist threat as well as conventional street crime. It seems like an eminently bloggable subject and the sort of thing where sharing information is useful.

But it is clear that the prevailing PC mindset of the monopoly press will misconstrue and willfully misinterpret such actions. Any attempt to promote vigilance is liable to be labeled domestic spying. (Can't you hear Krugman and Dowd chanting "American Gestopo" and "Ashcroft's Stasi"? Can you hear the glee?) And any discussion of armed citizens and the threat will produce superheated warnings about vigilantes and mob rule.

Annie Jacobson is being subjected to the same treatment as Eunice Stone. They are branded dumb, hysterical, racist women making much ado about absolutely nothing. Very few are asking if pillorying them will have a "chilling effect" on others who will become less willing to come forward when their suspicions are triggered.