Footnotes of an America United

There were these footnotes to the story of America united in response to terrorism.

A Florida company has reversed its policy against employees displaying the American flag, after that policy resulted in thousands of angry calls and enough e-mails to force a shutdown of the company's Web site.  The Palm Beach Post reported on Saturday that NCCI Holdings of Boca Raton, a company that specializes in workman's compensation data, confiscated about 10 American flags that employees were displaying on their desk. 

CEO Bill Schrempf said the company "forbids divisive statements or actions, political or religious discussions and anything else that could mean different things to different people."  By Monday morning, the company itself was handing out flags and red, white and blue ribbons to employees.

The environmental lobby, which had been among President Bush's harshest critics, has decided to knock it off, at least for now.  A spokesman for the Natural Resources Defense Council called the terrorist  attacks "a heinous attack" and said, "We want to support the administration."  The Sierra Club pulled television and print ads and passed the word to stop the attacks on Mr. Bush. 

One publication, Earth Island Journal, promptly ran an article by its editor headlined "U.S. Responds to Terrorist Attacks with Self-Righteous Arrogance."  It then just as promptly removed all reference to the article from its Web site. 

Political criticism has been muted as well, with Massachusetts Democratic Congressman Marty Meehan of Massachusetts having fallen all but silent after scoffing last week at the idea that Air Force One was a possible target of the terrorist attack.  "I don't buy it," he said, adding, "That's just P.R.  That's just spin."  He has since said the quote was out of context.  He had been, he said, to a briefing.  And after the briefing, he said he "understood Air Force One was not a  target," adding "I could not be more fully supportive of the president."

And no one seems to have heard from a former State Department counterterrorism expert named Larry C. Johnson, who wrote in The New York Times on July 10 that terrorism had been "discovered" by a  national security bureaucracy that needed a new enemy after the end of the Cold War.  But Johnson wrote then, "It is not the biggest challenge confronting the United States.  And it should not be portrayed that way."