Stuck in Lebanon

Mike Gallagher
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Posted: Jul 21, 2006 12:00 AM

The reporters crowded around the American evacuees from Lebanon, thrusting their microphones and cameras into their faces, eager to hear what they had to say. It’s been estimated that there were as many as 25,000 Americans in Lebanon when the bombing erupted, so clearly there was a story to tell. It certainly couldn’t be easy to airlift 25,000 people out of a country ravaged by war and violence in a short period of time, but these Americans would undoubtedly have a gracious message for their country, right?

No, that’s not the way it is anymore. Grace and humility are traits that seem to be in short supply, particularly when being applied to the big, bad United States of America.

The first interview I saw was with a man who was livid with the U.S. Embassy. “Every time we made it to the Embassy, they told us ‘we can’t help you, wait for a phone call.’ I mean, it’s a joke!”

Another American complained, “A week of nothing but misery and traveling from one town to town to find safety for me, for my pregnant wife, for my child...and for what? I don’t think it’s about the two kidnaped soldiers anymore. I think it’s more political. They’re trying to get political gains at this point.”

Yet another grateful American, this time, a woman: “It is positively ridiculous that it took the U.S. so long to come and get us. We were very scared and I blame George Bush and the government for dragging it’s feet in helping us get out!”

Here we go again. Another catastrophic event, another wave of “blame the United States.” Sounds familiar, no? Only this time the event wasn’t a hurricane or a flood, but ruthless terrorists in Lebanon attacking Israel and Israel fighting back.

First of all, it’s pretty difficult for me to wrap my brain around the idea of taking a summertime vacation to Beirut. Personally, I prefer Disneyworld. Or maybe a nice Caribbean cruise. But Lebanon? You take your pregnant wife into war-torn Lebanon?

Okay, so for whatever reason, a bunch of Americans decide to explore all the vacation benefits of Lebanon. Suddenly, bombs start flying and they want to leave. Immediately. Well, the world doesn’t quite work that way. Evacuating thousands of people from a country that is home to Hezbollah terrorists who are firing rockets into Israel is just as complicated and difficult as it sounds.

Amazingly, we’re not even going to charge these ungrateful evacuees for the free trip home. Despite a federal law that mandates reimbursement to the government if an American has to be evacuated from a foreign country, the State Department backed off after a big firestorm of objections were heard from critics of the Bush Administration. It’s estimated that a plane ticket from Lebanon to Cypress, where many were taken, costs about $200.00. Thanks to the stench of political correctness and cowering bureaucrats in Washington, we taxpayers now get the honor of buying the Lebanon evacuees their trip home.

Once more, we’re confronted with the ugly image of people shirking their personal responsibility and wanting to blame everyone else for their decisions. If you make the choice to take a holiday in a place like Beirut, it sure seems like there’s a possibility that you might not enjoy it when the terrorists get antsy. At the very least, you might want to hold your tongue and not complain, gripe and moan about your country when it comes and rescues you.

These people likely learned a thing or two from the reaction to flooded New Orleans. Sure, there were some people who couldn’t leave when Katrina was on its way. But let’s face it, there were many people who became victims because they made a choice to stay in New Orleans despite being warned to get out of town. Their bad decision became the government’s fault.

Just once, I’d like to see an American on TV express some appreciation for their country during times like these. What a joy it would have been to turn on the television and see an evacuee from Lebanon say something like, “Boy, was I ever dumb for deciding to take a vacation in Lebanon. But thanks to the United States, I’m now safely sitting in the Baltimore airport and am I ever grateful. Thanks to the brave men and women who helped rescue my family and me, and God bless America. It sure feels great to be home.”

No, that wasn’t what these people said. Not even close. Their sense of outrage and entitlement is slowly but surely becoming the American way. And it’s positively disgusting.

Next time these folks want to take a trip, may I respectfully suggest they consider Six Flags. Then again, if the roller coaster is shut down for repairs, I guess it’ll be President Bush’s fault...