Washington, D.C., begins teeming with tourists this time of year, and we must remember even when fear tempts us not to become scaredy-cats and afraid of our own shadow.
Last week, we received some of the best news ever regarding the nation’s capital. First, we learned that the scaffolding that has been surrounding the U.S. Capitol since 2014 was coming down. Second, we witnessed people around the globe converging on the nation’s capital to begin celebrating the glorious Yoshino cherry trees encircling the Tidal Basin on the National Mall. Then, unfortunately, we heard Monday there was a shooting at the U.S. Capitol, and a suspect is in custody.
Events like these during times like these often lead law enforcers to take drastic measures, to sometimes forget that atop the dome of the Capitol stands the Statue of Freedom and that she stands atop a globe encircled with the motto E Pluribus Unum, or out of many, one.
America can’t contain or take down all global terrorist threats, though our leaders continue to try.
We overreacted after homegrown terrorists exploded a truck bomb in Oklahoma City in 1995, killing 168 persons and injuring hundreds more. At the time it was the worst ever terrorist attack on U.S. soil, and law enforcers and Washington bureaucrats responded by erecting concrete bollards, and closing and blocking public access to the White House and other major federal properties, fearful of terrorists.
We grew fearful again on Sept. 11, 2001, when foreign terrorists hijacked four airplanes and used them as bombs in New York, Virginia and Pennsylvania. More than 3,000 people were killed, making it the most deadly attack on U.S. soil. The 15th anniversary of that horrifying day is this year.
We need to remain vigilant and on the lookout for the crazies, like those involved in the 2013 Boston Marathon attack by pressure cooker that left three people dead and more than 260 maimed and otherwise injured.
Be not so fearful as to change America’s identity.
Let not Monday’s shooting at the Capitol leave us overreacting with flurries for gun control.
A capital misunderstanding
People who help run the government forget the nation’s capital isn’t the province of the D.C. government. If it were, Metropolitan Police Chief Cathy Lanier would have controlled the microphone after the shooting at the U.S. Capitol, where Capitol Police Chief Matthew Verderdosa stood center stage to brief the media.
Indeed, the Capitol Police force is responsible for all of Congress, even though it is but one of about two-dozen federal law agencies that keep the capital and the Capitol safe.
Mayor Muriel Bowser and the D.C. Council do not dictate to the Capitol Police nor the sergeant-at-arms of the Senate, who happens to be the nation’s highest-ranking federal law enforcement officer.
By the way, both Metropolitan and Capitol Police share something highly visible: Their badges and shields display the U.S. Capitol Building — not the John A. Wilson Building, home of City Hall.
American history 101
And therein lies today’s rub.
The District’s elected leaders should get off their broke-back donkeys and stop acting like the senators and representatives from the 50 states don’t or shouldn’t have a say in what goes on in the capital.
First of all, Congress mandates they do and say something about the District, and occasionally Congress does so by giving the District a pass (as it did with gay marriage).
Yet whenever a member of Congress introduces legislation that the lefties cannot stand, such as a pro-life measure, city leaders wail.
Elected D.C. officials need to bone up on the U.S. Constitution, the history of the District and the D.C. Home Rule Act.
Without Congress and its financial wherewithal, lots of D.C. programs would lose public support. And in case you’re wondering, those programs chiefly include public education, public safety, public transportation, public housing, public health and public roadways.
Taxpayers in the 50 states send their money to Washington, and the men and women who represent those states and those taxpayers decide how much “D.C.” should get.
City leaders should stop hee-hawing and say thank you.
⦁ Deborah Simmons can be reached at email@example.com.