Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

January 12, 2011

Silence is Golden

Filed under: General Homeland Security — by Mark Chubb on January 12, 2011

Anyone who knows me will tell you I am rarely at a loss for words. But as I prepared to write this week’s post, I must admit I had a hard time thinking what to write about much less what to say. It occurred to me that the trouble was not a lack of suitable and timely topics nor opinions about them. Rather, I lack any certainty that I have anything much worth saying about them at the moment that has not already been said or that would make things much better.

That’s when it struck me that perhaps the biggest news to come out of the week’s grisly events — the shooting in Tucson, the floods in Queensland, the nasty weather afflicting many parts parts of the U.S., the lingering suffering in Haiti a year on from the terrible quake there, and myriad other disasters and threats — was the decision by the new Speaker of the House of Representatives to extend the chamber’s recess rather than convening so soon after the attempted assassination of one of the House’s more moderate and indeed temperate members. In light of the Speaker’s proposed legislative agenda, which sought to take up debate on the repeal of health care reform legislation or limits on funding for key provisions as the first order of business, this was no small concession to sanity or reason.

This legislative issue, among others on the House calendar, holds the promise of laying bare the nation’s deepest wounds and exacerbating deep-seated antipathies at a time when we need nothing so much as comity and civility. The extended recess allows the spotlight to shine where it ought to for the time being: On the national outpouring of sympathy and compassion toward the victims in Tucson.

This brief but blessed respite from the heated rhetoric of the past year reminds me of advice almost every parent once gave their young but which is not heard nearly so often these days: “If you have nothing nice to say, then say nothing at all.” I for one am enjoying the relative quiet, and see little need to disturb it any more than I already have with this brief post.

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Comment by John G. Comiskey

January 12, 2011 @ 6:19 am


Comment by William R. Cumming

January 12, 2011 @ 8:20 am

Well Sarah Palin has declared anyone linking her rehtoric to the assassination as having committed a “blood libel” so apparently the calm fails to reach across to Alaska.

The problem with Haiti of course is the fact that that nation-state is not one. It really has no effective government. This is not a new issue for the US or the UN but so far both have failed to address the collapse of governance in any particular nation-state. Haiti of course does not even control its own borders, a hallmark of the nation-state but then neither does the US.

Well the new year is upon US and it could be troublesome.

Comment by Philip J. Palin

January 12, 2011 @ 9:46 am


I appreciate your inclination to restraint. I share the sense that this is a moment for quiet reflection, rather than debate. I also ponder:

THESIS: “In the attitude of silence the soul finds the path in a clearer light, and what is elusive and deceptive resolves itself into crystal clearness.” (Mahatma Gandhi)

ANTITHESIS: Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter. (Martin Luther King, Jr.)

SYNTHESIS: I’m not sure, but I think it has something to do with reaching a shared sense of what matters and why… which perhaps begins with some self-reflective silence and sympathetic listening.

Pingback by Tweets that mention Homeland Security Watch ยป Silence is Golden -- Topsy.com

January 12, 2011 @ 10:24 am

[…] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Bob Connors, chubbm. chubbm said: Posted Silence is Golden: Rhetorical Restraint in Response to Tragedy at HLSwatch http://wp.me/pqsdP-3rm & R4 http://wp.me/px2Vd-qQ […]

Comment by dan oconnor

January 12, 2011 @ 11:57 am


Great thoughts. Silence is consent in so many realms, but thoughtful comment and realizing what does matter remains a challenge to pin down. Paul Krugman and Sarah Palin need not be our voices, but in the absense of ours, theirs will fill the void, albeit unsuccessfully and from different parts of the room.

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