New Civilization News: Terrorism and Precaution    
 Terrorism and Precaution12 comments
picture19 Sep 2004 @ 20:34, by Paul Quintanilla

We recently had a beautiful day here in Providence, Rhode Island, and Ellen and I thought it would be nice to take the ferry out to Newport. The sky was blue and clear and as we waited for the ferry to start we saw a large brown military helicopter circling above the nearby rooftops. As it slowly turned its repetitive circles it had that familiar determined aspect of seeking something or someone out below. But everything seemed peaceful and the only disturbance nearby was caused by some seagulls fighting over a fisherman’s scraps on the edge of the dock.

As we curiously watched the helicopter a young man, in his early twenties, standing directly behind me began to speculate on the meaning of its repetitive circling, and there was an edge of alarm in his voice. And he soon began to speculate its presence might indicate a terrorist attack. This was his immediate reaction and it appeared thoroughly reasonable to him. That terrorists could be hitting Providence and the presence of an Army helicopter would most likely indicate that.

Is this what we have come to in this country? Has the national imagination become attuned to believing any unusual occurrence could be indicative of terrorist violence? Do we expect it to occur, even in Providence, Rhode Island?

Our national imagination, that one defining, linking characteristic of our culture, was shaped by Hollywood and Madison Avenue many decades ago. And over time our national icons and mythology have only been reinforced by the mass corporate media, especially on television. And because we have been relatively safe behind our two shores, protected by two enormous oceans, the novelty of a large scale terrorist attack is still fairly new to us. And our overall national response has been colored by Hollywood and the mass media. The lurid and fantastic, if it follows a familiar popular pattern, is easy to believe. And if a large military helicopter circles about in the sky above our heads then something must be up.

There will be another large terrorist attack. And perhaps many more. We all know this is true. The question is: how should this knowledge effect us? Should we live in a state of constant vigilance, reading ominous signs in anything out of the ordinary? Should this vigilance be turned into alarm? Do we become informers on our neighbors? Should we buy duck tape and seal all our windows tight? Should we even go to the extreme of tossing out the Bill of Rights? All in the name of security?

I was once in Madrid, Spain, during a terrorist alert. True, the Guardia Civil, the national police force, was out in force, holding their automatic weapons menacingly up as they stood guard outside the Cortes, Spain’s National Assembly. I recall curiously looking at one of these heavily armed Civil Guards who returned my stare with a great deal of aggressiveness. He didn’t even want to be looked at by a passing stranger on the street. But the people of Madrid calmly walked by the Cortes hardly glancing at the scene. The people of Madrid merely went about their every day business and lives without any sign of panic or even of concern. They weren’t hysterical nor did they over react to the terrorist threat. They lived their lives understanding that, yes, something might happen. Perhaps even to them or to a loved one. But that they wouldn’t allow the terrorists (ETA) to ever dominate them or their lives. Nor would they grant them that importance.

To me this seemed very sane and sensible. It’s also a reaction which allows cool reason, yes, even for a certain “sensitivity,” to more freely determine how a society will deal with terrorist threats. It limits the terrorists’ victories, too, for their satisfaction is undermined by their victim’s refusal to panic or lose his head. To destroy his society from the inside by behaving foolishly.

The effects of terrorism, while horrible, are not overwhelming. Nor should they be allowed to destroy an entire society. What’s more, the chances of being in an automobile accident are still far greater than ever becoming the victim of a terrorist act. But our national imagination appears to have been overwhelmed by the prospect of more violence. Conditioned by decades of Hollywood, which years before 9/11 vividly depicted how terrorists work, we can easily imagine the worst. And, if we lose our heads, we may become the victims of manipulative schemers at home who truly don’t know what to do: who may even exploit the situation for their own ends.

Now terrorism has actually come to our shores. Will blind fear defeat us? Will we allow our imaginations to run away with us? Or will we show a growing maturity, calm, and common sense in responding to the new threat?



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12 comments

21 Sep 2004 @ 16:48 by jstarrs : I think you & Jazz...
..are doing some WONDERFULLY creative writing about the current political scene in the US. Thank you so much...  


26 Sep 2004 @ 21:43 by nemue : The Plan is...
to create fear sadly and as a race we don't often on mass show good judgement..yes I agree excellent article..thank you..  


27 Sep 2004 @ 02:48 by martha : thanks Paul
I agree with both starry and nemue. Good article
Fear is the key and the Republicans are playing it up big time. We all hold fear inside to one degree or another and as a result we lose our freedom when we project it out. Yes much is different since 9/11 and many of humanities fears seem even more apparant now. Could this be part of the unveiling and a possible shift in consciousness for humaity?

On a different note but related...Last year my daughter moved out close to me after being 3,000 miles away. Well now when I hear about a murder or a car crash in the LA area I immediately think of my daughter and hope it isn't her yet when she lived 3,000 miles away in crime ridden Miami, I never had such thoughts...hahaha...And I worry about both of us living in the LA area which I feel is a prime terrorist target....See there is no getting away from it. You can find fear everywhere in one form or another.  



27 Sep 2004 @ 06:14 by shawa : There is such a subtle difference...
...between fear and precaution, indeed. I live in Spain, so I get what you say about Madrid. Trains are scary after March 11. Not to mention planes, and boats - and soon...high way drives, going to the city ? If one uses the circumstances to sharpen one´s senses and awareness about surroundings then it may even be a good thing, but if we learn to cower in dark corners, then...not.  


27 Sep 2004 @ 06:22 by nemue : It Is About Balalnce....
......and perspective. The chances of being killed in a car crash are much greater than the likelihood of being blown up in a terrorist attack. People in Northern Ireland lived with terrorist attacks for years but most still went their merry way this was just a part of their life. Same in the Middle East by the way it doesn’t make it right, just stressing a point. We, on the other hand rarely give a second thought to car crashes (until it happens to us, or someone close to us). We know about it and we accept it. It is just part of life for us.

It is the fear of some new threat that we are grappling with. We need to stress the chance of probability to engender balance and bring this back into perspective. .  



27 Sep 2004 @ 15:21 by jazzolog : Our Homegrown Variety
Many of you know the area of Ohio where I live can be pretty savage. In the past I've told you about proud rednecks and the Klan. Over the past month and a half my family and I have attempted to exhibit our support for the Democratic candidates by placing signs down by the road and stickers on our cars. Our signs have been methodically stolen 3 different times or else torn down and destroyed. A friend had her car "keyed," which means a padlock-type key was run down the length of the vehicle leaving a deep scratch into the metal. On Friday I put up a sign at the road to replace those stolen, challenging the cowards to allow free expression of political opinion in Southeast Ohio. Saturday night someone burned the sign. Had the wind been blowing the other way, the fire could have come up our hill. The sheriff's deputy said there really was nothing he could do. My friend with the damaged car and I wrote letters to the editors of all 3 newspapers here, but the letters have not been published. One only can imagine what this country will be like if the individuals and policies these people support continue in power here. I'm sure these guys think of themselves as patriots but they're terrorists to me.  


27 Sep 2004 @ 15:38 by quinty @68.226.90.181 : They certainly are!

And, frankly, they are far worse and scarier than any fanatic training in Pakistan. Because these rednecsk are right there, your neighbors, and there are plenty of them.

Good luck Dick!  



27 Sep 2004 @ 15:43 by Quinty @68.226.90.181 : And, yes
these characters are reminiscent of the thugs who rampaged on the streets during the rise of fascism. In Germany, Spain, and Italy. The similarities are indeed unsettling.  


4 Apr 2006 @ 17:35 by Gabriella @82.63.203.24 : Yes, Fear is the key of terrorism
I agree with you, I am an italian girl... you know, fortunately Italy hasn't "yet" been attacked, but we are all worried about terrorism... Till our fears keep eating ours minds, terrorism will be the bigger humanity problem... so, chill out and relax a little!!!  


15 Dec 2006 @ 03:49 by americanreply @71.101.124.169 : REAL TERRORISTS
All of the Terrorists' acts are started by the Global Elitists, then have the media distract and confuse the World, while they profit from all their destructive phoney Wars.

What if there was a War and NOBODY came?  



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