Oct 232002
Authors: Becky Waddingham

The governor of Maryland, Parris Glendening, is considering calling out the National Guard to protect polling places on Election Day if the Beltway sniper is not caught by then. Election Day is less than two weeks away.

How terrible things must be when the military has to be called upon in order to protect democracy. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t think this has happened since Brown v. the Board of Education.

In 1957, two years after the Supreme Court’s landmark decision that desegregated public schools, nine black students were allowed to enroll at Central High School in Little Rock, Ark. Bowing to popular opinion, the governor decided this wasn’t such a great idea. So President Dwight Eisenhower sent in 10,000 national guardsmen and 1,000 regular army troops to protect the students.

The international press had a field day with this – look at what is happening in the land of the free, they cried. Our enemy numero uno, the Soviet Union, especially condemned the use of military force.

If Maryland uses similar precaution to ensure a safe election, won’t the court of world opinion have a similar reaction?

Imagine Saddam Hussein watching a report about the sniper on CNN. Wolf Blitzer, whom I’m certain Saddam remembers fondly, begins talking about how voters are too terrified to get out of their cars and go into the polls because the shooter might be lurking nearby.

What would he say? “Ha, ha, ha”? Or, “Hey, America isn’t any better than Iraq. How can they claim their system of democracy is better when my system of totalitarianism at least guarantees people can get to the polls without being shot? After all, I did win 100 percent of my electorate.”

I’m not suggesting Glendening should not use those troops if he feels it’s necessary to protect his people. He said Mark Warner, the governor of Virginia, and Anthony Williams, the mayor of Washington, D.C., should follow suit.

“A coordinated similar effort in all three jurisdictions would send a strong message that Election Day will not be disrupted and people will not be discouraged from voting because of this terrible situation,” Glendening said in an interview on WTOP radio in the Washington area Wednesday.

If the troops are necessary for public safety, use them – that’s what they’re for. But I cringe at the thought of the international community’s reaction. And I cringe even more at what that means for this country.

The Washington Post said numerous callers to the station demanded that if the governor plans to call out the National Guard, he should send them to public schools instead of polling places.

Glendening said doing that would make public schools look like “Third World” armed camps. But won’t polling places look that way, too?

It will be a sad day for democracy in America when voters must be protected by the military to freely exercise their rights.

The shooter’s goal

It might sound sick, but I was hoping the sniper would have a vendetta. I was hoping for some kind of intense hatred of a specific ethnic group or gender. Or revulsion over possible war in Iraq. Or even just a psychotic, sociopathic distaste for human life. The only thing I didn’t consider as a possible motivation was if it was al-Qaida terrorism.

But no, it’s nothing like any of those things. No romantic, Hollywood-esque mission for this mass murderer. Nope – all he wants is cold, hard cash.

One of my all-time favorite movies is “Die Hard.” The terrorist leader tells the FBI he wants hostages released and that he has a political agenda. But Bruce Willis finds out that in reality, he’s nothing but a common thief. And then he kicks some terrorist butt.

So this killer is a common thief, too. How about getting a job instead, moron? Or if you really just want to kill people and make money doing it, how about joining the military? I’m sure the Pentagon could use your sniping skills to take out Saddam. Or contact the Mafia and become a contract killer. At least those people would deserve to die.

Becky is a senior majoring in journalism and history. She does not advocate contract killing as a profession.

 Posted by at 5:00 pm

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