If running scared were an Olympic sport, America would get the gold.
In stark contrast to the pioneering spirit (and all its risks) that built this country, living in fear has now become our nation’s favorite pastime.
Nowhere was that on bigger display than leading up to (and during) the Olympics in Sochi. From the government to the media, the fearmongers were out in force, many urging Americans to stay home, with some all but guaranteeing catastrophic terrorist attacks.
Congressman Peter King, relying on the ever-so-convenient “I can’t tell you what I know” line thrown out whenever a claim can’t be substantiated, stated, “I would not go myself . . . as a spectator, I don’t think it’s worth the risk.” Incomprehensibly, he added, “odds are nothing is going to happen.”
Well, why shoot your mouth off at all? It needlessly instills fear, and angers a powerful nation.
Likewise, U.S. Senator Angus King stated, “I would not go, and I don’t think I would send my family.”
Really? When did we become such wimps? Being afraid is bad enough, but to broadcast those fears is inexcusable. Without question, it handed terrorists a huge moral victory. The message? Make threats and watch America flee.
There would be nothing better than to see Vladimir Putin pull off an attack-free Olympics to show the world that the way to defeat terrorism is to take the fight to them. Never back down, and never live in fear.
And so long as we’re keeping score of Olympic bombings, Russia still has zero, one fewer than America. In that game, low score wins.
Ironically, despite the doom-and-gloom heaped upon Sochi, the only Olympic bombing occurred at the Atlanta Games.
So much for being “risk-free” in America, a point lost on our leaders. Despite their attempt to sanitize everything, pretending that we can be 100 percent safe, there will always be risk. We can try to mitigate it, but risk is our lifelong companion.
It’s how we deal with risk that defines our courage and character.
Let’s look at the Sochi fear factor:
1. Has the Sochi region seen terrorism? Yes, but it’s not Beirut, and there have been plenty of Olympic venues where terrorism was a threat. The separatist group ETA had a history of bombings in Spain, yet Barcelona hosted. China clearly had issues with terrorism, yet the 2008 Games were played. And who could forget the massacre of 11 Israeli athletes during the 1972 Olympics in Munich?
America endured the Oklahoma City and Atlanta bombings, got walloped on 9/11, and has seen numerous mass shootings. So should we host again? Absolutely. But the constant (and irrational) fear-hyping, especially by those living in glass houses, takes the magic out of the Games.
2. Much of the government’s fearmongering was politically motivated. It was payback to make Russia look bad due to its alliance with Syria, stance on gay rights, and, most significantly, harboring Edward Snowden, whose NSA leaks have been an embarrassment.
The U.S. also overstepped its bounds criticizing Russia over its preparedness. Well, guess what? It’s been flawless. Too bad we didn’t learn from Mitt Romney’s major gaffe in 2012 when he criticized the Brits’ preparations and was roundly chastised.
Jimmy Carter’s boycott of the 1980 Moscow Games, followed by the Soviet’s 1984 embargo of L.A., were horrendous decisions. They showcased the stupidity of shortsighted leaders while victimizing their own athletes and millions of fans. You want to be at odds with your adversaries? Fine. But leave the purity of sport out of it. Stop politicizing Sochi.
3. The best security plan is the one you don’t broadcast. So, was it really necessary to tell the world (and the terrorists themselves) that our Navy moved ships into the Black Sea (and one later ran aground!) in case of an attack?
Likewise, publishing details for Super Bowl security wasn’t smart either. In addition to helping the bad guys, it’s counterproductive, as people start believing an attack must be imminent. The security freaks love showing off their toys, but our leaders would be a whole lot better off by adopting Teddy Roosevelt’s “speak softly and carry a big stick” approach rather than scaring the bejesus out of people.
From our Founding Fathers to civil rights leaders, Americans’ history of courage has been exceptional. How have we lost such a legacy?
The real world doesn’t change. Coping with risk without being a prisoner is the only way for a nation, and a people, to prosper. With the only vision that matters, Helen Keller said, “Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. The fearful are caught as often as the bold.”
In that spirit, let’s leave our fears behind and return to what made America great: always going for the gold.
Chris Freind is an independent columnist, television commentator, and investigative reporter who operates his own news bureau, Freindly Fire Zone Media. Read more reports from Chris Freind — Click Here Now.
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