Article Overview:   What impact does it have upon children when we boo and jeer sports competitors because of their politics?   At the French Open jeering Serena Williams was an act of Terror.   Lance Armstrong faces riding over 2,000 miles in France.  Will he be booed and jeered?  And, what about Americans denying French school children access to a summer exchange program?  Is that breeding new babies of Terror?  Find out.


Monday--June 9, 2003—Ground Zero Plus 635
Terrorizing Tennis, Cycling & School Children Breeds New Beasts Of Terror
Cliff McKenzie
   Editor, New York City Combat Correspondent News

  GROUND ZER0, New York, New York--June 9, 2003-- It's hard enough to win a world championship against the best competition on the globe, but then when you add the Terror of fans jeering you by the thousands, it shoots bullets against your competitive flack jacket.
     Serena Williams got a taste of French anti-American bile last week as tennis fans in Paris booed and jeered whenever she hit a bad shot in her bid to win the French Open.   The vitriolic verbal Terror attacks may have cost her a shot at winning her fifth consecutive major title as she lost to her Belgian rival, Justine Henin-Hardenne 6-2,4-6, 7-5, in the semi-finals.

Serena Williams distraught after vicious anti-American  booing

Hennin-Hardenne defeated Serena Williams in the French Open semi-finals

     Usually non-political and following strict court-side etiquette, the French Open fans spewed out their dislike for Serena after she challenged two close calls that went in her favor.
     She lost four consecutive points following the booing.
     Credit where credit is due, Hennin-Hardenne is a fierce competitor.   She beat Serena Williams in Charleston, S.C. on April 13, and has been called by sports writers Williams' chief nemesis.  However, it should also be noted that the Belgian contender rallied from a 4-2 deficit in the final set.  How much the booing and jeering helped her is a matter of conjecture, but for a sport that usually respects the player's skill rather than his or her politics, it was a deviation, a "bomb" of sorts in an otherwise "civilized" contest.
       This brings up the next issue--America's Lance Armstrong.
       On July 5th until July 27th, Armstrong will be pedaling his way toward his fifth consecutive victory in France's great bicycle race, the Tour de France.

This year the Tour de France celebrates its 100th anniversary

      With more than a million fans expected to view the cycle race each day, there's a chance anti-American verbal Terrorism can explode against Armstrong's ears, or visuals attack his eyes.   There is added fuel for the French to want their own to win.   This year the Tour de France celebrates its 100th anniversary.
       Armstrong, 31, hasn't forgotten that when he won the first race five years ago he was accused of using drugs to give him endurance.   He won after being treated for testicular cancer.   He was absolved of all accusations, not unlike Jose Santos who was also falsely accused of stimulating his winning horse in the Kentucky Derby.
       When prodded by reporters about anticipating negative reactions along the route, Armstrong said he hadn't had any negative experiences so far, and was aware of the possibility that along the 3,350 kilometer (2077 miles) course that loops through France one or more assaults might be issued his way.
       But then there is that old saw among competitors that it's the game and not the fans that must be played.    Back in the "old days" when the Brooklyn Dodgers and Yankees met, rowdy fans for each team could easily have been termed "Spectator Terrorists," yelling, shouting, jeering and even throwing things at the opposing players, in hopes of helping their team stumble to victory.
       But, the idea that politics rolls down the slippery slope to the base of human competition is more unsettling than rabid fans rooting for their home teams.   When politics creeps into the veins of sports, it stirs an ugly brew.
       Political agendas fall outside those of sports fans.   Their nature is laced with arsenic, and the mission of the assault has little to do with competition and much to do with the elements of Terror--Fear, Intimidation and Complacency.
       Could a rabid anti-American shove a broom handle into the spokes of Lance Armstrong's bike?   Could a Terrorist take a shot at him with a rifle along the 2,000-mile course?   Could one town decide to pool all their angst against America and boo and jeer him until Complacency overpowered his Competitive nature?
       All that is yet to unfold.   

Armstrong riding down the Champs-Elysees waving the Stars and Stripes after winning the Tour de France in 1999

      If any American competitor is braced for the unexpected, Armstrong, sponsored by the Postal Service, is certainly one of this nation's great Sentinels of Vigilance.   Despite his bout with cancer, he faced Internal Terror and won not only a victory for himself, but millions who feel defeated by the ravages of the disease, which carries with it a suggestion that life's goals and its future are crushed once afflicted.

Armstrong overcame his Internal Terror

       As a colon cancer survivor, I understand a little more than the average person the issue of Internal Terrorism.   I've had to face my mortality as any cancer survivor must, and accept life after cancer.   I became most aware of my mortality not after accepting cancer, but when I faced the Beast of Terror on September 11, 2001 at the World Trade Center.
       I was there when the Terrorist attack occurred and witnessed the horror of people leaping from the burning buildings, and then the madness when the buildings collapsed and all of us thought we were dead as debris shot around us and the pall of death settled down, choking and gagging us to the point we thought for sure we would suffocate.
      But out of the ashes of Terrorism comes Vigilance.
      For victims of Terrorism, there is a renewal of one's mission on earth.  That mission is to not let the Beast of Terror or any of his children or relatives conquer you with the venom of Fear, Intimidation and Complacency, but instead to muster renewed Courage, Conviction and take the Right Actions that benefit the Children's Children's Children.
       To me, it is sad that both people in France and America are whipping one another with the flames of Terror.  
       Recently, a 27-year exchange program of schoolgirls from France to the U.S., was cancelled by the American school, Springside, an all-girls private college prep school located in Philadelphia, PA.  The Americans claimed there was too much resentment against the French to "ensure a truly comfortable or hospitable stay," according to an email sent by Court van Rooten of the Springside School.

 An American all-girls private college prep school is terrorizing French schoolgirls

      If I were a Terrorist, I would be leaping with joy over the dissent between America and France.
       Terrorism's goal is to create Fear, Intimidation and Complacency among those it attacks.  When nations that are former friends and allies start to hurl invectives at one another, boycott products, and spit in each other faces, the Beast of Terror laughs.   He has done his job.
       But what is more frightening is when the attacks infect the children.
       Springside School might be only a microcosm of negativity against France by America, or a reaction by America to France's rejection of support for the Iraqi War, but the victims of the battle are the children--the innocent.
        As a Marine in Vietnam, I will never forget the first village I walked through that was shelled by our artillery.    While it may have contained a small portion of Viet Cong--the enemy--it was virtually leveled as I made my way through the carnage and rubble.  The first thing I saw was a woman screaming and running around, trying to find the head and limbs of her child that had been blown to bits.  The child's torso was propped against what remained of a tree.
        All wars, whether they be verbal or brutal showers of bombs and bullets, have a residual effect upon the children.  When one vomits hate and animosity toward another group of people within the earshot of a child, the child is Terrorized by the words.   He or she is infected by the Terror of the words.   Parents who teach children hate, bigotry, prejudice are irresponsible in their acts, even if they believe they are only expressing "their opinion."
        While I might carry with me certain opinions and attitudes shaped by my experiences, I have no right to pollute a child's mind with my own prejudices, my own narrow views, my own forms of bigotry or angst toward others.

The Springside School  is the shame of America

       One thing I learned after surviving the World Trade Center attack, plus more than 100 combat operations in Vietnam, and many years of living life, is that my I owe everything I have to the future security of the Children's Children's Children.
        That security includes biting my tongue.  It includes standing up against injustices that impact the children.
        Crowds booing Serena Williams taught some children that it's okay to bring your political animosity onto a tennis court, and to wish ill upon another player because of her citizenship with a country.   It also made clear among those tennis officials running the Open that Complacency was a new rule.   The match should have been stopped when it was evident the crowd would continue to boo.
        Officials had the duty to keep the competition "civilized," in keeping with the tradition of such events.  Instead, they didn't stand up.  They didn't take the high road.
         In France, the officials of the Tour de France have a special duty to insure the crowds do not act as Terrorists.  They have the duty of the Sentinel of Vigilance, to guard the future of the children by teaching them that competition is not war, and that a person's skill is measured by his or ability to achieve on merit, not on politics.
         And, there is the shame of America--the horror of the Springside School.
         Parents and school officials should hang their heads in shame.
         They sent a terrible lesson across the sea to France that they are no better than the Terrorists of Nine Eleven, no taller the worst of midgets of human character, for they assaulted the children with prejudice, they whipped them with resentment and retaliation.

The Sentinels of Vigilance shed a tear for all Sports Terrorists

        Terrorists gleefully enjoy killing, maiming and scaring all the innocent.  The more children they can harm, the more glee they feel.   
         While I feel badly for Serena Williams, and wonder about Lance Armstrong, I feel most concerned about the teenagers from Carcassonne, France, who have been denied a trip to the United States.  I also feel the same about the American teenagers who look to their parents, teachers and community for lessons on human evolution, and instead of seeing growth and development, stare at the stunted, malformed nature of the Beast of Terror using children as shields for their own prejudice and bigotry.
           The Sentinels of Vigilance who died at the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and aboard the ill-fated flight enroute to the White House on September 11, shed a tear for all who participated in the Sport of Terrorism.
           When we play this game, the children lose.
           If you want to battle the Sport of Terrorism you can and you can win.
           You can become a Parent or Loved One of Vigilance.
           Take the Pledge of Vigilance today.
           Stand up to the boos and jeers, and let Courage, Conviction and Right Actions for the Children's Children's overpower the Fear, Intimidation and Complacency the fans of Terrorism try to use to win.
          Stand up for Vigilance.  Be its greatest fan.   The Children's Children's Children will be the victors if you do.


June 8--The Usual Suspects Of Terrorism

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