My old friend MikeK was not only a firm believer in his right to be anywhere, anytime but also believed that his right to move his mouth to emit sounds was protected by the Constitution. Where we grew up in the Brownsville/East New York section of Brooklyn, his beliefs guaranteed a short but painful life. You want an example? When we were in High School, we played a really poor Boy’s High football team away. We had a great team and the score at the end of the half was like 52-0 and three of their best players had already been carried off. Boy’s High had the reputation of providing vocational training for prison, so when Mike suggested we stroll over to their side of the field to the only refreshment stand, he got no takers. Most of us were, frankly, planning our emergency route home—planning to skip out silently some time in the middle of the third quarter. Surprisingly, a bunch of Boy’s High fans beat the stuffing out of Mike and took his money. Who knew?
So what did I take away from this? That it is unwise to travel some distance with a chip on your shoulder to a place you shouldn’t be in the first place. And, you don’t really want to fight with people who are certifiably crazy—no matter why they are crazy. This all was reinforced by my country’s intervention in Vietnam.
So when Trudy Rubin, writing for the Philadelphia Inquirer, worries about the signals we are sending the Taliban by withdrawing out troops more quickly than we had initially let on we would, I have to imagine she is going to be hard to beat for Dumbest Editorial of the Month of July contest. I know I’m sticking my neck out here—it is only July 2nd, but I think we have a winner.
I could go on and on about this—about how we shouldn’t have been there in the first place, looking for Bin Laden who was at the time in a house in Pakistan we were probably paying for. But worrying about sending the wrong signals to the Taliban—a group of men so crazy they think that their religion not only justifies the killing of foreigners, but exalts it. So, as I see it, we’ve gone to a place 10,000 miles away with a chip on our shoulder to fight really, really crazy people who live there and will continue to live there no matter when we leave. And now we are going to worry about sending and receiving signals from crazy people, while 100,000 or so our young people are in harm’s way. Good job, Trudy.