When you were young, did you have a monster in your closet? Many a child has lost sleep to the monster that must certainly reside just inside the bedroom closet. If you think back on your monster, it probably was the end product of watching late night horror movies or creative tales spun with school buddies on sleepovers. Everything is fun and games until the monster actually comes to visit the next night when all your friends are long gone. Now the thing about the closet monster is that it's crafty and clever. It won't show itself when friends are around and never in the daylight. No, it waits until your head is turned or, worse, when you're sound asleep. The closet monster has power, a power that can make you freeze for endless minutes fearing that any slight motion might cause it to burst from the closet, ending in your certain death. Thank goodness a magical thing happens somewhere along life's path. We grow up. It does not happen all at once but step-by-step we gain perspective about what's real and what's not and the monster loses some of its power. Then on some special night this gained knowledge bolsters bravery to the point of a confrontation with the closet door and the monster is exposed for what he really is--nothing.
It would be nice to say that there are no monsters in real life, but that would not be true. As a nation, America has seen monsters in many forms. Adolph Hitler's Nazi Germany or Hideki Tojo's Japan are examples. America, though always diverse in thought and ideas, came together in a united effort to defeat those monsters at a time when indecision could have cost the world freedom as we know it. Our country is again at that crossroads. While it is reasonable and logical to draw distinctions from World War II and The War on Terror, there are chilling similarities.
Hitler wanted to eliminate all groups of people not fitting the mold of the master Arian race. Al Qaeda and other radical Islamic groups have an unholy mission to exterminate Israel and its ally, America, which both fall into the category of "the Zionist unbelievers." Similarities are evident between the Japanese kamikazes of World War II and the terrorists of today, who are willing to fly passenger planes into buildings, or strap explosives to their own bodies. Yes, monsters existed in the past and they walk amongst us today.
Hitler walked across Europe, taking country after country, forging deadly alliances and double-crossing all those naïve to his deadly intentions. On December 7, 1941, America was struck with a devastating surprise attack at Pearl Harbor. Al Qaeda, under the leadership of Osama bin Laden, along with terrorist groups that share this warped mentality, have repeatedly attacked American interests (e.g., 1993 World Trade Center Bombing,1998 U.S.S. Cole Bombing, Embassy Bombings in Nairobi, Kenya and Dar-Es-Salaam, Tanzania) Osama Bin laden funneled money to terrorist cells around the world for the purpose of Jihad. In 2001, America was struck with a second devastating surprise attack, suffering a death toll that surpassed the number of deaths at Pearl Harbor. At both times in history this country faced a monster that wanted to destroy it.
Unfortunately, America is not responding to today's monsters the same way America responded in the past. Part of the problem is that many in the country have become terribly confused in what makes up a monster, and what does not. Some civil rights groups portray the Patriot Act as an uncontrollable monster that roams the streets gobbling up people's rights. This fear maintains, even though after years of usage there have been no documented cases of abuse. In case that slipped by I'll repeat it, NO CASES OF ABUSES! The Patriot Act has been audited for abuses by many organizations, including the ACLU. In fact, the Patriot Act has served to move national security forward by leaps and bounds by clarifying ambiguous laws, updating outdated laws, and, yes, strengthening some older laws to help in fighting a new type of war. Regardless of the obvious factual basis for the existence and usage of the Patriot Act, groups such as the ACLU maintain a constant search, with torches and pitchforks at the ready, for any reason to slay this law for protecting our national security.
Others have identified the President George W. Bush as the monster for everything from the usage of National Security Letters (NSL's) to when the wind blows the wrong way. Any attempt to challenge these naysayers with facts is met with the usual accusations that "fruitful debate" is being quashed. Meanwhile time passes and division, indecision, and, worst of all, inaction, is the order of the day.
The failure of the Patriot Act to be renewed after the creation of a compromise package bill is a glaring example of the fact that many Democrats feel the war on terror should be prosecuted in a different manner.
Surpassing the issue of the Patriot Act renewal, Democrats have set a dangerous precedent in time of war by the actions of the "Coalition of Opposition." Our enemies are coordinated and motivated. Their agenda is clear--destroy America. The impression resulting from an inability of Congress to come together on legislation for fighting terrorism, and the willingness of some to kill the Patriot Act altogether, will be seen by our enemies as a sign of weakness. We know that Hitler advanced on those who appeared weak; we should expect no less from today's fanatical terrorist groups. Democrats have failed to learn what all children come to terms with, that is, eventually you have to confront the monster. -- Paul A. Ibbetson