The President Who Cried Wolf
The recent revelation that the terrorists who were responsible for the September 11, 2001, attacks are still at work and have made their plans to blow up financial institutions across our country has received a strange response. Ordinarily, such a warning, allegedly backed up by documentary evidence, should be a source of widespread concern on the part of the American people. But that does not seem to be the case.
On the whole, there are many who accept this warning as based on unquestionable truth. There are, it seems, an equal or even greater number of people who question the validity of the declaration. They do so because they question the source — namely, the White House or one of the agencies authorized by the White House.
The White House warned that Saddam Hussein had “weapons of mass destruction.” That warning turned out to be untrue. The White House warned that Saddam was operating in alliance with Al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden. That was untrue. The White House claimed that Saddam was busy working on a thermo-nuclear bomb. Again, untrue. The White House claimed that Saddam could and would deliver his weapons on the United States in a matter of minutes. Untrue.
Periodically, color-coded warnings from one hue to another have been issued to alert Americans to pending disaster — with no specifics about just what will happen and when and where.
All of which has brought on a state of doubt about whether the powers that be can be trusted to speak the truth.
What seems to be happening is a phenomenon recorded by a storyteller called Aesop more than 2,000 years ago. One of his historic fables is entitled “The Shepherd’s Boy and the Wolf.” Here’s how it goes:
A shepherd boy who tended his flock not far from a village used to amuse himself at times by crying out, “Wolf! Wolf!” His trick succeeded two or three times, and the whole village came running to his rescue. However, the villagers were simply rewarded with laughter for their pains.
However, one day a wolf really did come and the boy cried out in earnest. But his neighbors thought he was up to his old tricks and paid no attention to his cries. Consequently, the sheep were left at the mercy of the wolf.
The moral appended to the fable says: “There is no believing a liar, even when he speaks the truth.”
All of which leaves us, one and all, in a dire dilemma: We would be fools to believe the warning and equally foolish not to pay any attention. That’s why we all should pay attention and take a sober look at the alleged evidence. “Eternal vigilance is (still) the price of liberty.”
And while doing so, it might be well to pay attention to the wisdom of a Caribbean spirit called Mummy. The islanders chant: “Mummy say, fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.”