Have the terrorists won?
As the tragic events of September 11 continue to unfold I've
caught myself wondering if evil has triumphed. Have the terrorists
won? Or is this just a temporary setback?
Lets face facts; the airline industry is on the verge of collapse.
Continental Airlines announced they would furlough 12,000
employees. U.S. Air will layoff 11,000 and Midway Air went
out of business. Other major carriers will announce layoffs
by press time and just about every airline is flying at 80
percent of pre-attack levels. Congress is about to approve
a $15 billion bailout package for the airlines just so they
can stay in business. That money won't even come close to
helping minimum wage workers at airport concession stands,
skycaps and parking attendants just to name a few. The ripple
effect is also being felt by the tourism industry both at
home and abroad. Worldwide, tourism is a $460 billion a year
According to the World Tourism Organization, money spent by
tourist is the main source of income for almost 40 percent
of the world's countries. Translation, hundreds of thousands
of Americans out of work. Hundreds of thousands of foreign
tour operators will also be out of work. Our collective fears
in the wake of attacks on two of America's premiere institutions
will plummet our economy and the world economy into a recession,
the likes of which we haven't experienced since the early
1970's or maybe the stock market crash of 1929. Does this
sound alarmist, probably? But it could take awhile before
any noticeable signs of life are pumped back into the tourism
and travel industry.
Travelers are canceling or delaying vacation plans in record
numbers. Businesses are allowing employees traumatized by
these despicable acts of terrorism to stay at home. It's time
for Americans to standup and act like Americans.
The savages who perpetrated these unimaginable acts of violence
on our people will eventually pay for their deeds. We as Americans
should not allow ourselves to be intimidated. Unfortunately,
dealing with our fears and emotions starts with those of us
in the newsgathering business. That's right it starts with
you. Journalists are the eyes and ears of the American public
and whether you want to admit it or not, people in this country
take their cues from what you report. Indirectly, your reporting
will fan the fears of flying or instill confidence in the
safety of air travel.
If any good can come out of this tragedy, then the increased
security at the nation's airports should help put us at ease.
Does it take longer to check-in? Absolutely! Does it make
sense that we can no longer park on airport grounds or escort
loved ones to the departure gate? How about hand searches
of our bags and purses or the removal of sharp items from
airport concessions, does that seem excessive? Several of
these tougher security measures are standard practice in many
countries around the world. Have you ever heard of an Israeli
flight on El Al being hijacked in the past 25 plus years?
I'll answer that for you, NO. Armed sky marshals are just
part of what makes El Al the safest airline in the world.
If you've traveled to Europe and Asia, you've probably noticed
that government agencies assume the responsibility for safety
and security at their airports and on their airlines, a practice
that should have started in this country years ago. Here's
another one for you. How many of you have noticed the cockpit
door opening and closing during domestic flights? You won't
find that on El Al either. Cockpit doors on their flights
remain closed for the duration of the flight regardless of
what's happening in the cabin, and that includes acts of terrorism.
Gone are the days when the oceans protect us from terrorism.
We should embrace longer security checks and delays associated
with protecting the general public. These delays won't last
forever. As the airline industry adjusts to stricter security
requirements they will work out procedures to get passengers
from point A to point B quicker. But I don't want to sacrifice
speed and comfort for security. After all, the objective of
the airline industry is to get us to our destinations safely.
You as journalists should hold our elected leaders, the airline
industry, government agencies and any other organization charged
with public safety, accountable for protecting the nation's
skies. Journalists must remain ever vigilant in reporting
the success and failure of new guidelines and procedures.
Report on air safety with as much enthusiasm as some did in
chasing down Gary Condit. While we remain traumatized by the
worst act of terrorism in U.S. history, the greatest economy
the world has ever known is taking a beating. The sad truth
of the matter is we are doing it to ourselves. I don't want
to minimize the tragedy of the 5,000 Americans who lost their
lives. But we will do more harm to the memory of our lost
loved ones if we let these barbaric acts of terrorism bring
down the American way of life. Now's not the time to become
isolationists when it comes to travel. Air travel, despite
all that's happened is still the safest means of transportation.
I don't want Osama Bin Laden or any other foolish terrorist
destroying my God given right to travel, work and pursue the
American dream. Future generations will loose out on some
of the most culturally rewarding experiences life has to offer
if we allow terrorists to ruin our adventurous spirit and
force us to stay at home. Don't let terrorism win.