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  • How Things Have Changed

      Bill O'Reilly
      Dec. 01, 2001
    Bill O'Reilly is host of Fox News Channel's "The O'Reilly Factor"

    You don't have to be Nostradamus to know that life in America has changed drastically since Sept. 11. No one can escape the shift in attitude and that is a good news, bad news situation.

    The best news is that even the dimmest children now know they live in an actual country. For the first time in 50 years, kids have been exposed to emotional patriotism and have been confronted with the fact that there are other things of importance besides the mall, the latest rap CD and "Buffy the Vampire Slayer." Will American history actually make a comeback in school? Could happen.

    The not so good news is the fact that children have learned that their country cannot protect them. Anthrax letters, suicide terrorists and fanatical foreign governments pose a threat that can never be entirely snuffed out. Some adults have learned this lesson too but apparently those adults do not inhabit Congress. Our leaders in Washington are still dragging their feet on reforming the FBI, CIA and other intelligence agencies that have been compromised by incompetent leadership and public apathy. We need intelligence pros in charge of our security not political appointees who look more frightened than the captured Taliban.

    Flying has certainly changed. For the past decade, it was annoying with delays and poor service. Now it is downright chaotic at times with jumpy security personnel and overwhelmed airline employees. Does anybody look forward to going to the airport? Anybody?

    Charity giving has changed forever in America and that is mixed news. The big guns like the Red Cross and the United Way have not performed well under pressure and most Americans will remember. We the people gave billions to help the 9-11 families but most of our money is still sitting in the bank, the victim of mismanagement and chaos on the part of the charities. This is a deplorable situation but one the public needs to know about. There is little oversight in the non-profit world. Be generous, but beware.

    Entertainment has changed. Those dopey reality shows were always foolish, but now most of us know it. Wasting time watching someone eat a rodent is somehow offensive after the attack. News watching is up. That's good.

    And traditional programming is back. Carol Burnett put up some serious numbers with a TV special looking back at her gentle brand of humor. Racially charged humor is out, gross slapstick is looked upon as not worth anyone's time and even Saturday Night Live has lightened up on the political mockery.

    If you had to put one word on all the change, it would be "comfort." Americans want comfort food, clothing, entertainment and hobbies. Personal angst is out. We have enough to worry about with al-Qaida running around. We don't need Gary Shandling dropping his neurosis on us. Jerry Springer is dying a gory syndicated TV death. Nobody wants to see morons exploited by a sleazy ringmaster. Rikki Lake is through. Sally is over. Say goodbye to tease and sleaze.

    The war on terror has changed the cultural landscape in America and it has also changed some thought patterns. Political correctness is on the run. A lady in Rocklin, Calif., threatened to sue a public school after the principal erected a sign that said "God Bless America." The community has ostracized the woman and her little daughter had to leave school.

    Comedian Bill Maher was almost sacked by ABC after he said on his program "Politically Incorrect" that American politicians were cowardly for lobbing cruise missiles at terrorists. Three months ago that remark would have garnered little notice today it could end a career. That's because many of us are far less tolerant of foolish ideological agendas, we are much more judgmental in our thinking.

    Finally, perhaps the biggest change in America is the realization that evil actually exists. The moral relativism that danced happily through the Clinton years is gone. Right and wrong is back. Spin is out logic is in.

    And that is a terrific thing. Evil does exist in this world. In the United States, it has hidden behind the First Amendment, and been sheltered by the numbing narrowness of politically correct thought. As we approach the year 2002, the eyes and minds of many Americans have been opened and the evils of this world are now in plain sight. And that's the first step toward crushing them.