Back in the ancient time of 2007, you may recall that color-coded threat warnings were constantly appearing on our TV screens. Those “Homeland Security threat advisory ratings” fluctuated between yellow (elevated) and orange (high). With the lone exception of the State of Hawaii in 2003, the threat ratings never dropped to blue (guarded) or (heaven forbid) green (low).
It was like we were in an old Star Trek episode with Captain Kirk, stuck on a bridge that’s constantly on Yellow Alert, phasers and photon torpedoes locked on target.
Thankfully, the Department of Homeland Security finally ditched the color-coded warnings. But have we ditched the mentality that drove them? Are we not encouraged still to be afraid?
Yes, terrorism remains a threat. I’m sure there’ll always be terrorists of some sort who seek to harm us. But we’ve made a lot of progress in the so-called global war on terror. We killed Osama Bin Laden. We devastated Al Qaeda.
Indeed, as we teeter on the brink of national financial default, one of the bigger threats we seem to face is our own divided and ineffectual government. While it appears a last-minute deal is in the works, it’s one of those “solutions” that just kicks the can down the road a few months. We’ll doubtless be dealing with the same governmental gridlock — the same hostage-taking — after the New Year.
Hmm: Maybe we should revive that color-coded warning system. But let’s apply it, not to the terrorists outside our borders, but to our own politicians who continue to threaten us with financial default and societal ruin.
If they continue to insist on taking our government hostage, throwing people out of work, and threatening us all with financial collapse, I’d say that rates at least an “orange” rating. And if they persist in shooting the hostage (that’s us), I’d say that counts as a “red.”
Come on, Homeland Security! Protect us from those who’d destroy our government. Or are you shut down too?
Bruce Fleming, an English professor at Annapolis, has a great letter at the New York Times about the government shutdown. Unlike West Point and the Air Force Academy, most instructors at Annapolis are civilians rather than serving military officers. They have been furloughed because of the government shutdown, so Navy midshipmen are no longer being educated. They’re being herded into large lecture halls by young LTs. Lord knows what they’re learning.
The library staff is furloughed as well. But who needs books nowadays?
But wait! I have good news. Even as education in subjects like English is suspended at Annapolis, the football games continue. There was an alarming report earlier this week that this weekend’s football game might be cancelled due to the shutdown. But lo and behold, football games were restored for all the service academies.
Here are American values clearly on display. Football and tailgates and hoopla: essential. Education in English: optional.
And we wonder why America is in trouble today?
Update (10/7/13): Civilian faculty returned to work today at Annapolis, so “only” one week of classes were missed. I’m just glad no football games were missed. Priorities, people!
With the odds increasing that Congress will shut down the government this coming Tuesday, I couldn’t help but think of the classic Sci-Fi film, “The Day the Earth Stood Still” (the original version, of course).
Remember Klaatu? He comes to earth in peace, only to be hassled, harassed, and ultimately shot by the authorities in Washington, D.C.
What angered Klaatu were the “childish jealousies” and “petty squabbles” he witnessed among earth’s leaders. “I’m impatient with stupidity,” he declared. And when it comes to this Congress, so should we all.
So-called Obamacare is an expansion of medical care based on free-market models supported previously by Republicans like Mitt Romney. But the usual childish jealousies and petty squabbles are intruding as the Republicans in the House do their best to torpedo a plan that mostly favors the status quo.
The stupid — it burns. Where is Gort when you need him?