Russian school children will have to wear metal tags so their bodies are identifiable in case of another school massacre.

Moscow schoolchildren will soon have to wear military-style dog tags and carry special “passports” as part of a security drive in the wake of Beslan.

The Russian capital is also beefing up protection of its schools against intruders to prevent any terror attacks like the Beslan mass hostage-taking.

Dozens of children killed in the Beslan massacre were burned beyond recognition.

Terrorism isn’t a “nuisance” crime, says Betsy.

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  1. I wonder how long before we hear calls for this – or for microchipping, like in dogs and cats – in American schools.

    When I hear stories like this, it makes me think that my decision not to have children was the right one – who wants to bring a child into a world like this?

  2. nicksmama says:

    My mom, who grew up in the 50’s, recalls having 2 sets of dogtags assigned to her in elementry school. They had her name and blood type on them. She said as a kid she thought they were “neat”. She is one of the “duck and cover” generation.

    Alas, this is not a new idea.

  3. Please save me from the security moms. I am sorry, Betsy, I worry about my kids as much any other neurotic mom, but I try hard to put the risks into perspective and not try to drive policy toward an imaginary risk.

    I ask you–what is the real risk, that our kids will undergo a torment like Beslan, or our kids will not be able to read and write? –no link here, many readers know that the kids born between 1978 and now have had a substandard education, in public and private schools.

    What is the real risk–a terrorist attack on a school in the United States, or kids dying of alcohol overdose? –because no one taught them what to do with a buddy who is passed out from the beer bong antics?

    What is the real risk–Beslan or no school for months, as will happen in some parts of Florida because the infrastructure is so hammered?

    When did Americans get so hysterical about imaginary risks, and so sanguine about real ones?

  4. Elizabeth,

    Terrorism isn’t a figment of imagination. It’s quite real. How real is a question that only terrorist atrocities can answer, but most would agree that it is in the realm of the possible.

    But the “nuisance” quote has been stupidly misread by the right. Kerry wants to MAKE terrorism something that’s only a nuisance, not just sit back and THINK it is only a nuisance. He, just like President Bush, concedes–unless Bush has flip-flopped on this issue–that terrorism can’t ever be completely stopped. I’ve read all sorts of pathetic and desperate attempts to misread what Kerry said, but I can’t come to their same deluded conclusions.

  5. jon wrote:

    But the “nuisance” quote has been stupidly misread by the right.

    Well sure. Isn’t that the only way “the right” could misread it, stupidly?

    Fortunately, there’s a whole segment of the political spectrum peopled by intellectual giants, fully capable of brilliantly misreading what Senator Kerry said. That would be “the left”.

    Kerry wants to MAKE terrorism something that’s only a nuisance, not just sit back and THINK it is only a nuisance.

    You’d think that an intellectual of Senator Kerry’s towering stature wouldn’t need someone to painstakingly explain his meaning. But maybe he’s just too deep for mere mortals to understand.

    I’ve read all sorts of pathetic and desperate attempts to misread what Kerry said, but I can’t come to their same deluded conclusions.

    Bully for you.

    The deluded conclusion I find it very easy to come to is that for Senator Kerry terrorism is a nuisance. It’s difficult to finesse, resists convenient reinterpretation and can’t be ignored.

    Senator Kerry has to deal with the issue and the only way he can deal with the issue and have a prayer of getting elected is to say he’d do what George Bush has already done: kill lots of terrorists.

    Why elect John Kerry then? We’ve already got a guy in the White House with a couple of years of experience at recycling terrorists. What do we need with a guy who’d have to learn the job from scratch?

  6. Richard Brandshaft says:

    I’m old enough to vaguely remember some program to give school kids dog tags to identify bodies after a nuclear attack.

    The kids swapped tags with boy/girl friends.

  7. “Recycling” terrorists is part of Bush’s problem in dealing with the issue. I’d prefer he put them in the regular trash so they don’t come back.

  8. I think Elizabeth’s point should be considered a little more seriously. I’m not reading it as terrorism doesn’t exist, only that the risk is taken way out of proportion. It’s something we do a lot as human beings. The problem with it is that we tend to miss other things which are far more likely to happen. Being aware that something could happen is good. Ignoring what IS happening for what COULD happen is not good. And that’s what’s happening here.

  9. Clarification: By here, I mean here in America. The Russians have pretty good reason to beef up security in their schools considering what happened, though I think the tag thing is a bit much. Sorry about that. (I think I need to get some sleep.)

  10. jon wrote:

    “Recycling” terrorists is part of Bush’s problem in dealing with the issue.

    I guess you save the parsing for Senator Kerry’s utterances. Retroactively, I’ll add “into the ecosystem” after the word “recycling”.

    Adrain wrote:

    Ignoring what IS happening for what COULD happen is not good.

    Sure it is. It just depends on what the IS is and what COULD is.

    Do you ignore the rabid dog because you just noticed a skin lesion that might be a melanoma? Do you take the time to replace that overheating wall socket even though you’re short of breath and have crushing chest pains?

    Prioritizing threats is an emminently sensible thing to do and the credibility of terrorist threats is beyond any reasonable discussion.

    They don’t just want to kill us, they’ve already killed thousands of us and would have killed millions of us if they could have. Against that, illiteracy is a minor, manageable, fixable threat. After all, once you’re dead your future is pretty limited.

  11. Elizabeth:
    At what point does terrorism become a “nuisance”? When only one thousand people die? One hundred?
    Ten? At what point can we tell the wives, children or parents of the victims “Ah, your loved one died in a terrorist attack? What a nuisance!”

    It was an incredibly poor choice of words on Kerry’s part, and the second part of the quote in which he equated lower levels of terrorism to illegal gambling or prostitution was even worse.

  12. I wasn’t arguing terrorism is a “nuisance” in the world. It is a real and present real risk FACTOR, but the actual risk to each of us–especially those of us who live outside of major urban centers–is quite low.

    I would invite you to have a historian’s view, and consider the idea that “terrorism” –that is to say, citizens being threatened or harmed by organized non-governmental forces in order to inforce an idea–on United States soil is not new. Consider lynching in the South, for an example extending into the 20th century.

    I was arguing that the risk of a Beslan-style terror attack on a school in the United States is quite small–almost imaginary– COMPARED to the real risks our kids face. What I was pointing out was the stupidity of diverting resources to attend to a near-imaginary risk, when real risks are left unaddressed.

    (And I was whinging about the modern tendency to demand near-risk-free environments–or make somebody else pay for the consequences of our own behavior.)

  13. I just realized, while writing something else, that this hand-wringing over the terrorists! Our babies! is part of the security theater:

    Schnier’s Wired OpEd on Security Theater: Every day, some 82,000 foreign visitors set foot in the US with a visa, and since early this year, most of them have been fingerprinted and photographed in the name of security. But despite the money spent, the inconveniences suffered, and the international ill will caused, these new measures, like most instituted in the wake of September 11, are mostly ineffectual.

    The problem for me is the Potemkin Village of Practically Everything. No Child Left Behind: Education Theater. New SATs: Education Theater. The presidential campaign: Electoral Theater.

    The most trivial details are presented with a flourish, and we are expected to concede that indeed, They Matter.

    In the meantime, kids are not learning, the economy is going to hell in a handbasket (not to mention the environment)–


  14. Elizabeth,
    You have legitimate concerns. I have a daughter in middle school and I share many of those concerns. However, solving those problems and dealing with the potential for terrorism are not mutually exclusive. It is not necessary to ignore one goal to accomplish the other.

    While politicians may well use the threat of terrorism as a diversion from other issues, that does not mean that the threat of terrorism is not real and should not be addressed. To classify it as a “nuisance” is offensive. While you are correct that, taken in a context of history, an average suicide bomber attack is meaningless, that doesn’t make it meaningless in the present, to the victims or the people the victims leave behind. Kerry’s comments left me very ill at ease. At the minimum it was an extremely poor choice of words.

    And I hope you are right about a Beslan-style attack being unthinkable in this country. 9/11 was unthinkable not that long ago.