Op-ed: A Nice vacation

  • By Bob Franken
  • Wednesday, June 7, 2017 9:58am
  • Opinion

Normally I wouldn’t bore anyone with my family travel plans, but please indulge me when I mention that my wife and I are returning to Nice, France. Our accommodations will be at the same seaside spot where we were last summer when an apparently ISIS-inspired madman drove his truck through the nighttime crowds on the busy beachfront 30 or so yards away. Eighty-six died a horrible death at the hands of this pathetic maniac; over 430 were injured. A few readers might remember that we both immediately began covering the story for our respective news organizations. We confronted the horror of widespread bloody carnage, and the nightmarish screams that were everywhere that night.

I mention all that because since then we’ve had several terror attacks, one just a few days ago in and around London Bridge. As it happens, we have scheduled a separate trip to London later this year. We have no intention of changing that plan either. Those who conduct these grisly acts, and sponsor or encourage them, are trying to sow fear. That’s obvious. To the extent that they have rational thoughts, they want to frighten all of us into avoiding the areas where the onslaughts took place, and in a larger sense, into trembling at the thought of going out anywhere and risking exposure. We cannot allow ourselves to be intimidated. That’s why the two of us refuse to be scared away. We passionately reject their pathetic intimidation. Otherwise, we would let the terrorists win.

They also get a victory when their actions set off mindless reactions from our officeholders and the demagogic wannabes who respond by advocating oppressive laws and, in the case of our current president, concocting idiotic plans sold as protection when they’re really just politics. Smarmy politics at that. His idiotic wall along the Mexican border fits that profile, almost as much as his Muslim travel ban, which was so badly planned and executed that it was quickly put on hold in several courts. It’s finally reached the Supreme Court, where if the law and the Constitution mean anything to them, the justices will emphatically dispatch with the ban once and for all.

The president doesn’t seem to think much of the law and the Constitution. In his various Twitter spurts, which often provide the full depth of his thinking, he has questioned the rights of “so-called judges” to interfere with his policies. His tweets are rarely boring, but always boorish. His first reaction to the latest London atrocity was a study in petulance: “We need to be smart, vigilant and tough. We need the courts to give us back our rights. We need the Travel Ban as an extra level of safety!” The critical sniping at his bad taste began immediately, so a few minutes later he sent out a more appropriate, “Whatever the United States can do to help out in London and the U.K., we will be there — WE ARE WITH YOU. GOD BLESS!” Better late than never — “never” being when he expressed Twitter concern over the two men who were stabbed to death and one wounded a few days earlier. They had stepped in to prevent a man on a transit in Portland, Oregon, from screaming epithets against two frightened young Muslim women. Not a word on the @realdonaldtrump account, site of his personal missives. He did call the violence “unacceptable” on his @POTUS address, the one maintained by staff.

Fast-forward again to London, where he did return to the personal account: “Do you notice we are not having a gun debate right now? That’s because they used knives and a truck.” It’s fair to say that his personal tweets are rarely tactful, always tacky.

So Linda and I will be emphatically returning to the scene of these crimes against humanity, in spite of them and in spite of Donald Trump’s absurd policies, which are themselves shameful offences for all of us who consider ourselves proud Americans.

Bob Franken is a longtime broadcast journalist, including 20 years at CNN.

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