Progressives are quick to dismiss concerns about terrorism as fear-mongering (while they fear-monger about global warming or the Christian right). It is not fear-mongering to acknowledge that Islamic terrorists exist and are waging war upon us, and to take appropriate security measures accordingly. Ignoring that threat so we can all turn our attention to beekeeping will get some of us – perhaps many thousands of us – killed.
Not that Smith is overly concerned about that:
When you think about how many people the terrorists have killed, its nothing. It’s not as many as die on a bicycle in America probably in a year or something.
This is presumably another one of those “raging but formed opinions” that sent such a thrill up the leg of the interviewer. Smith’s callous trivialization of the thousands of American innocents killed or wounded here and abroad by jihadists, not to mention the innumerable deaths that could have resulted from disrupted or failed terrorist plots, is repugnant. It’s also a bit odd, considering that she created an art exhibition in the wake of the 9/11 attacks that featured drawings of the Twin Towers, the collapse of which she witnessed. Though it’s difficult to tell for certain, her comments at the time at least hinted at empathy for the victims:
No matter where one stands politically, the human dust in the air lingers. As much as I understood the soul of the remaining building, I felt the people – 3,000 – dying in moments, just blocks from my house. The Towers were in my sightline. I sent my daughter to school at 8:15. An hour later they were gone. Breathtaking.
For a poet, “breathtaking” is a breathtakingly poor choice of words. An Australian thunderstorm is breathtaking. A Van Gogh is breathtaking. The destruction of the Twin Towers at the hands of fanatics consumed by hatred of the 3000 innocents they murdered is not breathtaking. It’s devastating. It’s outrageous. It’s unconscionable.
In any case, that was then. Now she shrugs and asserts that “we can live with terrorism,” another breathtakingly poor choice of words which sounds an awful lot like surrender. This celebrated genius believes she sees the Big Picture about bees and humankind, but she’s blind to the serious impact “living with terrorism” is currently having on everything from our personal security to international relationships to our economy to our rights and freedoms. She also doesn’t seem to grasp that working toward a solution to the bee problem doesn’t mean we can’t simultaneously work toward solutions to the Islam problem.
Celebrities and their airy opinions may seem like easy targets for criticism. But artistes like Godmother of Punk Patti Smith are given an undeserved platform by the media, their opinions and willful ignorance too often absorbed uncritically by others. If Smith wants to live in a leftist fantasy world in which the death of a single bee is more critical than averting another 9/11, that’s her right in a free society. The rest of us don’t want to have to live with terrorism – or die from it.
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