What Kerry Meant To Say and What He Did Say

Sec. of State John Kerry visiting Bangladesh was speaking about the latest spate of terrorist violence.

Remember this: No country is immune from terrorism. It’s easy to terrorize. Government and law enforcement have to be correct 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. But if you decide one day you’re going to be a terrorist and you’re willing to kill yourself, you can go out and kill some people. You can make some noise. Perhaps the media would do us all a service if they didn’t cover it quite as much. People wouldn’t know what’s going on. (Applause.)

This was followed by a round of criticism and condemnation by conservatives.

However, I get what Kerry’s trying to say, which is that the media covers every instance of violence by a guy claiming to be a terrorist as if it were 9/11, which only distresses people unnecessarily and encourages copycats. So I get that.

But what he actually said was deeply stupid.

Life in the “Danger Zone”

Anyone who knows me knows that my early life was defined by a desire to be a naval aviator and astronaut. Top Gun came out in theaters in my senior year of high school. So reading this description of life on board the USS Harry S Truman as it combats ISIS is a great moment of reflection for me. And sobering to realize that even I’d become a Navy pilot, I’d almost certainly be retired from the Navy by now.

While wandering the Truman, seeing so many young people hanging out in small groups, it sometimes seems a bit like high school. People move through hallways, meet up with friends at the lunchroom and respect a fierce hierarchy. Though there aren’t many classrooms on board, there are people studying in all the relatively quiet corners of the ship, preparing for exams that will help them net promotions. The first people I saw on board – waiting in the ATO shack, fresh off of their flight to the ship – were implausibly young-looking Americans in civilian clothes. I actually asked an officer standing nearby why there were young family members on board. He chuckled and informed me that these were new sailors just beginning their service on the Truman. They were under orders to wear civilian clothes while traveling to the Middle East.

If We Do Math on Planes, the Terrorists Win

A young woman who apparently never took higher math raised an alert with a flight crew when the native Italian man sitting next to her started doing differential equations. He wasn’t a terrorist preparing to… what exactly? I don’t know, but he’s actually an Ivy League economist who was preparing for a presentation he was scheduled to give.

I don’t know which is scarier: that the woman didn’t recognize math or that the authorities thought that someone writing on a notepad offered enough of a threat to hold a flight.

Four Missionaries of Charity Martyred in Yemen

This is awful. These four Missionaries of Charity, members of the order founded by Mother Teresa, were murdered along with the people they were caring for by members of an Islamic terrorist group in Yemen. As the vicar for Southern Arabia says, they were murdered in hatred of the faith, which makes them martyrs. A priest at the facility was taken by the terrorists.

May the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Through the intercession of Blessed Mother Teresa, may they fly to the bosom of the Lord in heaven.

Iraqi nun looks at Syria refugee battle through lens of own past

Gelzinis: Iraqi nun looks at Syria refugee battle through lens of own past | Boston Herald:

“‘To react to ISIS, to the horror they have caused,’ Mother Olga said, ‘is to close the door on all the people whose lives have already been shattered, who’ve lost parents and children and everything they have in this world.

‘While I understand why people would want to react this way out of fear for what they have seen,’ she said, ‘but by closing our doors to all the victims of ISIS, we are only giving ISIS even more power. In a very real sense, they have succeeded in terrorizing us.

‘Beyond making them stronger, this reaction removes the hope of those refugees who’ve been trapped by this poison, this evil, and are desperately seeking a way to sustain their lives.’”

Mother Olga speaks with moral authority because she’s been there. She was a refugee like the Syrian refugees of today.

Photo: George Martell/BCDS CC-BY-ND-2.0

Islamic State, Daesh or Isis: the dilemma of naming the militants

Islamic State, Daesh or Isis: the dilemma of naming the militants:

“The dilemma of what to call Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s terrorist group has been troubling politicians and the media since the militants began their advance across Iraq and Syria.”

The group is battling to hold on to a territory equivalent to the size of the UK, but as Jonah Blank, a former staffer at the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, tells NPR, they are also waging a “propaganda war”, of which their name plays a crucial part.

While this may not be the most vital concern at this time, it’s something to think about. I’d like to start calling them Dash, just because they don’t like it.

Church in Iraq Protests Law That Would Force Children to Become Muslims

Church in Iraq Protests Law That Would Force Children to Become Muslims | Aleteia.org:

“Patriarch Louis Raphael I Sako of Baghdad said that the legislation, part of a new national identity card law approved by the Iraqi parliament on Oct. 27, would ‘oblige children under 18 to automatically embrace the Muslim religion,’ even if only one parent decides to convert to Islam.”

USS Constitution sails again

For only the second time in the past century the USS Constitution, the oldest commissioned warship in the world, sailed under her own power in Boston harbor.

The sailing marked the 200th anniversary of her landmark battle versus the HMS Guerriere during the War of 1812, in which she became the first US warship to defeat a British warship of equal size and power. It’s also the action in which she earned her nickname “Old Ironsides” for the way in which the British man-o-war’s cannonballs bounced off her sides.

The last time she sailed was in 1997 on her 200th birthday. She was towed up to Marblehead, Mass., the birthplace of the US Navy, on the North Shore of Massachusetts, for a week of festivities including lots of Navy brass. Even the network morning shows came up to broadcast live from the shore of Marblehead for the final sailing. I was there too, standing on the shore at the crack of dawn to see her towed out to sea where she put up her sails for the first time and made her way as the Grand Dame she is.

Then in 2007, I had the opportunity to be aboard the Constitution during her annual July 4 turnaround cruise. My dad had come to know one of the former commanders of the ship and got two of the precious tickets for the public. That was an awesome experience and an amazing day. Among other things I was able to record video of the 21-gun salute as it was fired from the gun deck.

So you can imagine that when I heard about today, I very much wanted to go see it. The sail was to occur in Boston Harbor (map), as she would be towed out to President Roads then turned around whereupon she would set her sails for the return journey. Thus the ideal spot would be Castle Island in South Boston.

Unfortunately, Mass for us is 9:30 am and by the time we got done and would have been able to get to Castle Island would have been too late to get through the crowds into a decent viewing position, not to mention the starving children.

Ah well, maybe someday she will sail again for a third time in my lifetime. Hmm, maybe too much to ask.

Bush’s Shanksville Address

I may not have agreed with many of President George W. Bush’s policies in his eight years in office (although compared to the current occupant of the office, Bush and I have the same mind), but his strength as president was how he handled 9/11 and its aftermath. Each speech, each impromptu remarks, each moment with those affected by the events was always pitch perfect, never merely weepy and emotional, but always evoking the best of America.

The president’s speech in Shanksville, Pa., on Saturday at the Flight 93 memorial are another example of that.

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