Washington Merry-Go-Round

Freedom to live

IMMEDIATE RELEASE 9 January 2015

WASHINGTON MERRY-GO-ROUND

Today’s Events in Historical Perspective

America’s Longest-Running Column, Founded 1932

Freedom to live

By Douglas Cohn and Eleanor Clift

WASHINGTON – With the terrorist attacks in Paris as the latest manifestation of our new world disorder, it is time for governments to acknowledge their primary duty: public safety. History has repeatedly shown that people will choose safety over rights and liberty every time, whether it is safety from foreign powers or domestic assailants, yet it is not a choice we should be forced to make. Other means are at hand.

The new reality is that weapons and explosives are ubiquitous; police and soldiers are not. And, no, we do not want soldiers patrolling our streets, but they certainly can patrol the borders and entry points, such as ports and airports.

What we need most of all are police – trained police. We need them on foot. We need them in schools and places of public gatherings. We need them visible. We need them in mutual supporting distance. And if this means allocating budgets to triple or quadruple the number of police, so be it, because nothing in government budgets is more important.

Interestingly, a substantial police presence would undoubtedly increase government revenue because it would make neighborhoods safe for commerce. How many neighborhoods in America are no-go places, those areas that are unsafe in daylight and battlegrounds at night? But millions of people live in such neighborhoods. Their children grow up in them, learning the ways of street, the creed of criminals. Their childhoods are stolen as are too many of their lives.

Still, we seem to concentrate on the wrong things. What is the cause of crime? How is religious zealotry changing the landscape of safety? How do we identify those most likely to commit the horrendous outrages that shock us over and over, in schools and elsewhere? The fact is there will always be homicidal fanatics, religious zealots, advocates of odd causes, and ordinary malcontents, and of course they should be identified if possible. Meanwhile, who is protecting us from the ones not identified?

Each time another one of these gross events occurs, whether at Sandy Hook or Paris, we express outrage and lament and move on, which is tantamount to acceptance, as if we are members of a herd, who know some of us will always be picked off by predators. But we are not such. We are human beings capable of protecting one another, and are simply failing to do it.

It is time to step up and acknowledge the real problem: money. We are not spending enough to provide ourselves with that most basic right of all: freedom to live.

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© 2015 U.S. News Syndicate, Inc.

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