September 17, 2001


Last night, someone called a Boston radio station to propose that the US deport all the "Middle Eastern" students at colleges and universities in the Boston area, because they might be terrorists. The host, Ted Sarandis (who is normally a sensible fellow) agreed that this might be a good idea. Last night, someone called to worry that all the gas stations seem to be owned by "people like that", and perhaps they were all planning to blow them up. The Boston Globe reports that a convenience store in Somerville was set on fire by kids who (mistakenly) thought the owner was an Arab.

We need a very good speech and we need to hear it soon. The President is the natural choice, but Bush is probably incapable of pulling it off. With luck his staff knows this. He can say a few words and introduce someone who can do the job. Peter Gomes? Gerald Ford? Jesse Jackson? (Why not? He's a fine orator, it's time for him to leave the stage, and what better way to come together than to have Dubya introduce Jesse?)

Bad news will be with us for weeks, months, every day bringing a new revelation of some additional terrible detail. We need the ritual words to set everyone moving toward something worthwhile, toward a new birth of freedom, lest we again descend into bitterness we later regret.