Who’s Hysterical Now?

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John McGinnis writes in a letter to the editor (February) that “the word ‘hysteria’ derives from the ancient Greek word for womb, and that the ancients believed that hysteria was a distinctly feminine trait.”

In a world in which the Taliban consists of all males, and male Afghans are shooting females in soccer stadiums for uncovering their heads, and in which Mohammed AHa and all of the enraged suicide bombers who dive-bombed planes into the World Trade Center towers were male, John McGinnis chooses to label as hysterical the angry emotional reaction of one female writer to all of this as female hysteria. A curious reaction indeed.

McGinnis may have forgotten that U.S. cold war policy for many years revolved around a plan referred to as M.A.D. – mutually assured destruction – and that Richard Nixon referred to the superiority of what he called”the madman theory.” Certainly the architects of these planners were overwhelmingly male. The idea was to scare the hell out of one’s opponents with rhetoric backed up by bombs as a deterrent to war. It worked because we were dealing with reasonable people, a condition that is absent from the culture of radical Islam.

I found it frightening that only a few hours after Sept. 11, an American general thought that his first message to Americans should be that”we don’t want to be like them” – essentially the same politically correct and masochistic policy that had been enacted by the Clinton administration for the previous eight years, and the passive response that probably empowered and emboldened bin Laden.

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