With all the tools the Internet age has to offer that enable multifaceted, instantaneous communications on any conceivable topic, is it any wonder we perceive everything through the prism of a “crisis”? We flit from one “crisis” to another, with the average life span about one business week .
At the beginning of this month, because there occurred a couple of tragic shootings, we were thrown into another “gun crisis”; two weeks ago, it was the “piracy crisis”; last week, the “torture-memos crisis”; this week, the “swine flu crisis.” Next week, who knows — perhaps someone in some far-off corner of the world will claim to have contracted the bird flu again, and we will transition seamlessly to that crisis; or another peanut scare; or E. coli.
Far more often than not, most of these “crises” could be reduced to manageable proportions without getting our national pants in a wad.
Let’s start from this week. Mexico — a country with a far less sophisticated infrastructure than ours, especially with regard to municipal and rural hygiene — has developed a not-insignificant case of swine flu. This is unfortunate, but it can be handled.
We should offer expert assistance, and urge the World Health Organization to visit Mexico .
Making a leap from a serious but relatively small outbreak in Mexico to a crisis demanding the attention of our country’s public officials, from mayors and governors to the secretary of Homeland Security and the president , adds little .
We do not have a swine flu crisis in this country . Our hygiene infrastructure here is decades ahead of that in Mexico, our farms are run and monitored far more rigorously , and health care available in the U.S. is better than anywhere else.
We can and should take steps to ensure neither a swine flu nor any other disease epidemic crosses into our territory by having our government commit to monitoring and restricting border crossings from Mexico .
Whether it is swine flu, drug-gang violence or some other malady , more effective, consistent and comprehensive enforcement of border and immigration laws will always help.
Of course, holding press conferences and telling people to wash their hands and cover their mouths and noses when they sneeze is politically less risky.
By the way, what happened to the other crises from this month? Despite the continuing nature of the problems underlying the proclaimed crises in gun violence, piracy and torture, the sky has not fallen.
Murder and mass shootings remain a problem, but not a crisis. And there is a solution — enforce laws on the books and allow law-abiding citizens to arm themselves if they wish.
Piracy on the high seas remains a problem, but not a crisis.
And there are solutions — allow and authorize our merchant ships to carry defensive arms. Put more SEAL teams on Navy vessels in the affected areas. And put other nations on notice that American-flag vessels are not to be denied docking rights because they carry defensive arms .
Torture is a problem (it’s also unlawful) but it is not a crisis.
The solution is easy — make clear, as the Obama Administration has done — that our government will no longer torture detainees; and prosecute those who intentionally violated the law.
All of these solutions require the political will to implement them; and the recurrent lack thereof actually is a crisis.