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As Long as We Remember...

February 14, 2011

Multiple Hijackings

Steven R. Berryman

When I was growing up in Rockville in the 60’s, a hijacking was what happened to unfortunate commercial airliners, bound for Miami but violently diverted to the Communist Cuba of Fidel Castro.


A hijacking was about all that Walter Cronkite talked about on CBS news before he got to the body counts in Vietnam for that day. All of that, and film of NASA’s Man in Space program, made for some great TV breaks in my Farmland Elementary School, nestled into most-liberal Montgomery County, just off Montrose Road.


People in Frederick won’t believe it, but back then, Rockville/Gaithersburg was more like rural Frederick County than even Frederick County is today!


Some years later, while I worked in an audio associates store at Springfield Mall, a hijacked Iranian revolution culminated after 444 days of captivity for Americans. The U.S. had, of course, supported the Shah of Iran, Reza Pahlavi, prior to this revolution, as we had discovered it easiest to manipulate despots and autocrats as a foreign policy.


The Iranian Ayatollahs were, of course, the beneficiary of said revolution by “students.”


Ah, the silly youth back then, changing the world even without benefit of the Internet and social media! I was apolitical but not fully ignorant back then. However, I took note when one of the released hostages visited our store to buy a stereo.


Now, a hijacking does not have to be an airplane or a nation. It can mean being an opportunist with a great sense of timing and destiny.


The author of a bestseller book of that day called it “finding a parade, and getting out to the front to lead it.”


A great example of that is Congressman Michelle Bachmann (R., MN). She usurped Tea Party leadership after the Obama speech at the State of the Union last month. In a massive historical faux pas, she proclaimed that the Founding Fathers worked day and night to overthrow slavery. And they were big on women’s rights, too? Right!


Her poor historical sense was not a shock to me; after witnessing her keynote speech at a local Lincoln-Reagan day dinner last year, Ms. Bachmann forgot to even mention the Tea Party movement in her motivational presentation. And this, arguably as Tea Party factions of the Republican Party were – in part – responsible for the GOP resurgence!


A temporary hijacking is okay as a convenience for Republicans? Right!


We all know that what we derisively refer to now as “mainstream-media” has been fully hijacked at both Left and Right extremes. Big money tugs so hard at both ends that both MSNBC and Fox News appear to be totally ridiculous at times, and leave the political center a silly-looking marshmallow wasteland that pleases nobody and is certainly not commercially viable.


However, witness talking heads on many a cable channel hijacking the Tea Party movement by acknowledging it; giving more credit than deserved to election winners in 2010; and admitting to Tea Party influence as the mechanism. This “damning by faint praise,” I believe, is meant to satisfy the movement’s border-line hangers-on and make them go back into their cellars to find another cause. This is a neutralizing impact to the movement’s fervor and momentum.


Compounding this circumstance is a Tea Party absolutely absent emerging leaders or continuity of platform throughout the nation. Maintaining the integrity of the movement has proven to be incredibly difficult when combined with assuring continuity among the original membership.


Locally, activists Mark Kreslins and Joshua Lyons are working to reinvent and reinvigorate this complex movement. Look soon for the announcement of a newly renamed group born of the original “We Surround Them – Frederick.”


Back to your national headlines about Egypt – after due diligence to Valentine’s Day (hijacked by Hallmark) of course – a full spectrum of pundits are offering a pallet of predictions on the outcome of “freedom.” Full freedom could be the freedom to starve, for instance. Freedom to national self-determination could also allow for a weakness inviting another hijacking.


Will the young and the not-so-young in Egypt meld together in some unity-government? Will the figurehead be a Google executive turned Facebook finagler, or will it be a statesman-looking former International Atomic Energy boss?


And what role will the Muslim Brotherhood play in all of this? Are its real “true believers” now fully underground and waiting for the Trojan Horse moment, or can a zebra change its stripes?


Let’s not allow Glenn Beck to tell us “Ayatoll-ya-so.”


At international airports, with some flights coming to America, there will certainly be a boom with Mubarak regime’s expatriates now. Less hijackers on those flights for certain.


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