A Grim Prospect
Were Life Only Like A Fairy Tale
By Michael Tanji | February 9, 2007
Rare is the night that I do not read my children a story from one of Arnold Lobel’s Frog and Toad series of books. A current favorite is Dragons and Giants, which has Frog and Toad testing their mettle against the bravery displayed by the protagonists in their book of fairy tales. In the course of their journey up a mountain Frog and Toad flee from a snake, barely escape an avalanche, and narrowly avoid being carried away by a hawk. As each trial unfolds they run and scream “We are not afraid!” At the end of the tale we find our amphibious friends huddled under the covers (Toad) and in a closet (Frog) “being brave together.”
A survey of the political landscape in this country over the last few years reveals a disturbing number of Frogs and Toads amongst us. Faced with numerous dangerous challenges the response is never to stand and fight or face the issue head-on; it is to run while simultaneously declaring victory. Lost in the back-slapping clamor of self-congratulations is the fact that those who would do us harm are not gone, they are merely waiting for their next opportunity.
The “flight” part of the fight-or-flight reflex is legitimate in the lower-rungs of the natural world but it is a poor approach for those at the top of the food chain: “You can run, but you’ll only die tired.” says the sniper-themed t-shirt. In the animal kingdom the frog that attempts to stand up to the snake is viewed as proof of the theory of natural selection; the human that doesn’t go willingly to his death is labeled a warmonger or worse.
Today we find a group of amphibia – in the form of the Office of Special Plans - under fire for attempting to demonstrate that there are indeed snakes and hawks circling and plotting our downfall. The OSP used the same information that the intelligence community did and drew different conclusions about the nature of the threat we currently face. Their non-crime was stretching the comfortable boundaries of the overly cautious community that bullies or marginalizes dissenters: a flawed practice that is only now being remedied to nominal effect. Lost in the melee is the treasure trove of hard and softcopy media taken from Iraq that shows that we were right to worry about Saddam. Of course the response is to dismiss actual intelligence and stick with misguided speculation.
One cannot fault the Frogs and Toads of this world for their lack of bravery, for no one knows for sure how they will react when faced with a mortal challenge, but we have every right to criticize those hop-along-to-get-alongs who have no plan for dealing with those who await the next opportunity to strike us. Rather than offering meaningful alternatives they demonize those with a different view and do nothing to advance a fuller understanding of the problems we face. Lacking neither concrete plan for the future nor ideas for dealing with the threats at hand, their approach to the dangers around us is apparently to wait for an attractive young princess to plant her lips on them in the hopes of achieving a fairy tale ending.