Alas, it really happened

Please tell me that didn't really happen.

It's not that I don't trust our letter writers. I just don't want to believe the scene described this week in a letter to the editor.
In case you missed it, this happened at the Cowboys game Monday night.

During a break in the game, Texas Stadium cameras showed various fans and the stadium announcer
urged the crowd to select a "fan of the game" by cheers and applause.

The camera first showed three men in military uniform. Naturally, the crowd cheered loudly. Some people stood and clapped.
It was a nice tribute to our troops.

Next, a woman with a sign of some sort was shown to scattered applause.

And then, incredibly, the stadium cameras were trained on a man and woman in Middle Eastern attire of some sort
turban and head scarf, along with Cowboys garb, too. And the crowd began to boo and hiss.

Our letter writer was rightly mortified.

Then, to make matters worse, the whole process was repeated big cheers for the soldiers, polite applause
for the sign-toting woman, boos and hisses for the Middle Eastern couple.

And I want to say: Please tell me that didn't really happen.

Even by the low standards of a football crowd, that is just numskull behavior.

First, how did anyone in the Cowboys organization think it would be fun to match some U.S. troops
against an innocent Middle Eastern couple in a crowd popularity contest?

What's next? Tackling dummies in Arab attire? A little hanging in effigy from the goal posts to warm up the crowd?

Thank goodness the Cowboys do realize that a huge blunder was made here. Spokesman Rich Dalrymple
said they haven't had many calls about it, but they're apologizing profusely to those who have.

"There was nothing intentional about it," he said. "But the matter has been addressed and dealt with accordingly in the organization, trust me."

OK, but that doesn't let the crowd off the hook. Are there really so many simpletons who think our enemy is anyone in a headscarf?

If so, our war on terror is doing more harm than good.

So far I haven't found much to like about either campaign in this presidential race. But a real low has been
Vice President Dick Cheney's mocking of John Kerry for saying he would wage a more "sensitive" war on terrorism.

Sure, it makes for some easy tough-guy posturing. But as it turns out, Mr. Cheney's boss the president
has used the very same word in talking about fighting terrorism effectively.

And both the president and Mr. Kerry are right.

It may not be as much fun as booing and hissing, but we're going to need lots of sensitivity to win this war on terrorism.

In the good old days of past wars, it probably made sense to demonize a whole race or nation as our enemy.

When I was growing up in the years after World War II, we spent a lot of time "playing war." And that meant fighting "Krauts" and "Japs."

But we don't have the luxury of such mindless, broad-brush hate this time around.

This war on terrorism is really more about ideas and attitudes than bombs and bullets.
It's a war to win hearts and minds, as is often said. And in a way, we're all combatants in that war.

Once, supporting the war effort back home just meant rolling bandages or rationing sugar.

If only it were that easy now. Fighting this war on the home front means digging deep and learning about world affairs
and our own foreign policy. It means stretching to understand cultures very different from our own. And it requires
\real sophistication in understanding who are enemies are and who they aren't.

I'm afraid that in a few thoughtless minutes Monday night, we lost a skirmish in our war on terrorism.

And lots of people proved themselves unfit for combat.

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