Mad enough yet?
It’s too bad syndicated columnist Balint Vazsonyi didn’t live long enough to see “America on My Mind,” a beautifully bound book of his selected essays published by the Vienna, Va.-based Potomac Foundation.
Had he not succumbed to cancer at the early age of 66, the Hungarian native — he was 8 when Nazi Germany occupied Hungary; 13 when communist Russia took absolute control of life there; 22 when he arrived in the United States with “thank you” being the extent of his English — Mr. Vazsonyi would be weighing in today on the escalating war against terrorism.
And he’d be upset, no doubt, with the progress.
“Are we mad enough yet?” he asked repeatedly in one of his final columns, driving recent history — and his frustration — home with the American public and its president. And he had a few words for the Islamic community as well.
“It was exactly 30 years ago: images of three huge jetliners, packed with American passengers, sweltering in the desert, guarded by Arab terrorists for days and nights on end. Then came the Marine barracks in Beirut. Pan American Flight 103. The embassies. The USS Cole. The twin towers and the Pentagon. Now, a journalist [Daniel Pearl] who, ironically, was endeavoring to bring the terrorists’ message to readers of the Wall Street Journal.
“Are we mad enough yet?
“Our president said, ‘All Americans are sad and angry.’ But he also said, referring to the killers, ‘these crimes only hurt their cause.’ Cause? What cause? If they have a legitimate cause, we ought not to be angry. If we are truly angry, we ought not to legitimize murderers by acknowledging some ‘cause.’
“Did Nazi Germany have a cause when they built Auschwitz-Birkenau?
“Did the Japanese have a cause when they raped Nanking?
“Did the Russians have a cause when they ordered everyone trying to get from East Berlin to West Berlin killed?
“Are we mad enough yet?”
Mr. Vazsonyi would be downright angry about last week’s string of deadly terrorist blasts that killed hundreds of innocent people in London, Sharm el Sheik, and often forgotten Baghdad. A solution he offered to help stop these barbaric acts he probably would repeat were he writing today.
“Are we really going to perpetuate the practice of stripping grandmothers in public before they are allowed to visit their folks? Will we continue to act … as if we hadn’t noticed anything resembling a pattern?”
He pleaded three years ago that “the time may have come to ask, perhaps even require, Arabs and Muslims living among us to come forward and publicly dissociate themselves from what we politely call ‘Islamic extremists.’”
“Arabs and Muslims would be well-advised to say to the rest of us: ‘This is being done in our name. We share in the responsibility, and in the duty to rid the world of this pestilence.’
“Come to think of it, they should be mad enough by now.”
Conservative columnist George Will traveled to California this weekend to serve as keynote speaker for the annual meeting of the Federation of Defense & Corporate Counsel, which concluded yesterday at the La Costa Resort and Spa in Carlsbad.
Among those attending was Washington lawyer David D. Hudgins, who has devoted his legal career almost exclusively to insurance and corporate defense. But his ears perked up most when Mr. Will was asked to predict the major-party presidential nominees for the 2008 election.
Mr. Will said once the nominating conventions are out of the way, Americans will be casting votes for either Sen. George Allen, Virginia Republican, or Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, New York Democrat, with Mr. Allen the winner and next president of the United States.
Needless to say, the lawyers were intrigued. As for Mr. Hudgins, he couldn’t wait to drive up the California coast and share the columnist’s prediction with his good friend, Jennifer Allen, the only daughter of legendary football coach George Allen.
A writer and author, she wrote a rather revealing book about her father and politician brother, “Fifth Quarter: The Scrimmage of a Football Coach’s Daughter.” She is married to television writer and author Mark Richard.
John McCaslin, whose column is nationally syndicated, can be reached at 202/636-3284 or firstname.lastname@example.org.