Two current events worth jeering about

It’s the end of the term, and I’m tired and stressed. So I’m going to complain about the $13 million paid to Venezuelan terrorists to release kidnapped victims from Gold Hill, Ore. I believe it was a major mistake we’ll all be sorry for. I’m also going to complain about Ron Herndon, hailed (wrongly, I believe) as a great force for change in Portland. Herndon has made a lifelong career out of being part of the problem but steadfastly refusing to be involved in the solution.

First, the $13 million. Of course we don’t want to see anybody murdered by terrorists, but paying them off only aggravates the problem. Kidnapping now emerges as a money-making enterprise. Don’t be complacent about it happening only in faraway Venezuela. Kidnappers right on our home turf are eyeing this growing industry.

Already, there has been a plot to kidnap actor Russell Crowe. Obviously the Crowe snatch would be for ransom. There’s not enough FBI to protect every potential victim though. How much would your parents be willing to pay to ransom you from kidnappers? Probably sell their home, cash their retirement funds, liquidate every asset. Sure, it wouldn’t bring $13 million. But there are petty kidnappers out there who would settle for $100,000 or even $25,000.

How can I be so cold-blooded as to, in effect, condemn those kidnapped men to death by denying the ransom? Why were they in Venezuela in the first place? To enjoy a high income. Why would their income be high? Because their company, and they as individuals, knew they would be working in an area notorious for kidnappers. By working there they were volunteering for hazardous duty in exchange for high income.

In the army, there is a category known as hazardous duty. Soldiers who volunteer make extra money. In the army, you can often recognize a survivor of hazardous duty. He may be missing a finger, or an eye, or walk with a slight limp. He took the chance for the extra dough and lost.

Those men who went to work in Venezuela volunteered for hazardous duty. They took their chances for bigger bucks and they paid the price. Giving in to the kidnappers has put millions of us at risk for this to happen right at our front door.

Probably, if the kidnappers hadn’t been paid off, the hostages would have been executed, one by one. That would have been regrettable but with each execution, there would have been more clues as to where the kidnappers hide out and how they could be collared.

Furthermore, the trouble the kidnappers would experience in doing the executions and hiding the bodies could significantly discourage home-grown kidnappers. They would realize it would be much more likely to get caught in the more efficient crime-busting environment of the United States.

As for Herndon, I think of him as “the D man.” Since his college days, he has followed the same program – the D agenda. Deplore, demand, denounce, demonstrate, disrupt, and finally, duck out when somebody suggests he should actually play a responsible part in the solution to the problem he is protesting.Herndon is a leader of demonstrators who are systematically disrupting meetings of the Portland school board. Ben Canada may indeed be a lousy school superintendent, I don’t know. But Herndon’s tactics aren’t improving anything. This past week, Canada openly challenged Herndon to quit being part of the problem and become part of the solution by joining the school board as a member.

If Herndon follows his lifelong pattern, he won’t join the school board. If he did, he would have to start taking responsibility for school board actions. He would lose the luxury of being able to stand on the sidelines and jeer.

The absolute easiest role in any society is to be “the against” while avoiding the responsibility of being “the fixer.” This was demonstrated dramatically during the World Trade Organization riots in Seattle. A TV newsman asked a young woman how she would fix what she sees is wrong. Her nonsensical reply was, “Make the politicians fix it, they’re the ones that screwed it up.” To her and to Herndon, I say, give me break.