During the worst of the Palestinian terror attacks on Israelis, I visited Israel and made a documentary ("Israel in a Time of Terror") about how Israelis regarded and lived with the murdering of their fellow men, women and children.
I will forever regard the Israelis of that period as achieving a rare level of national greatness: They were able to go on living normal lives, returning the next day to the same cafes bombed the day before, riding on the same bus line that the day before had its passengers blown up, blinded, maimed and brain damaged.
While making the documentary, I often wondered how we Americans would react if such terror came to our restaurants, malls and buses.
I think the evidence is mixed. I wish I could be entirely optimistic that we would react as befits a nation whose national anthem describes itself as "The home of the brave," but there is too much evidence that suggests a less than strong response.
I fear that unless a change in the American psyche and character takes place, car bombs as in Baghdad or terror as in Israel could unravel our society.
Many Americans have become so afraid of danger, not to mention dying, that they will panic rather than go on with life, which is the only effective response to terror.
Panic was the dominant reaction when the Unabomber threatened Los Angeles International Airport (LAX). The city of Los Angeles shut down the airport after the then-mayor announced that while Angelenos were free to make their own decision as to whether to fly, he, the mayor would not fly. As a radio talk-show host based in Los Angeles, I recall condemning his remarks as being the opposite of leadership. He should have rushed to LAX and flown on any regularly scheduled flight.
Panic has been induced by the fear of lawsuits. American courage has been profoundly compromised by frivolous lawsuits and the trial lawyers who bring them to court. Lawyers, sympathetic judges and the political party the trial lawyers govern would alone guarantee a cowardly reaction to domestic terror. You can be certain that most restaurants, stores, malls or bus lines bombed by terrorists would be sued. How many businesses would stay open after terror attacks, knowing that they could be sued for not providing enough security?