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Do Something. Do Anything. Do It Now.


It’s hard to say which is worse: evidence that the “intelligence” that’s increased security at the World Bank, the IMF, and Citicorp is just a little teeny bit dated. Or the “me-too” headlines the West Coast press is waving around saying, perhaps, maybe, the Bank of America building in San Francisco was also a target.
What? Californians don’t have enough to worry about. Or Al Qaeda is only targeting spectacularly ugly building that should never have been built in the first place? Please. This is another case of West Cost media wanting in on the story and doing anything to get there.

The aggravating part – for Californians – is that anyone who’s been standing in a building when it starts to shake knows exactly what it’s like to live with a quiet but constant threat. That’s why most of us have water stashed in the back of the cupboards or closets, why there’s always a spare can of tuna around. Earthquakesare no fun and sooner or later we’re going to get one here in San Francisco that shuts us all down – or worse – for more than a day or two. I’m not exactly looking forward to it but, well, it’s part of living here.
If terrorism were seen in the same way — as a constant presence — things might get a bit less, um, dramatic. Which is the point everyone seems to be missing about this current wave of alerts. It’s the drama, the cops in riot gear and bullet-proof vests (what about everyone else? And how — exactly — does a bullet-proof vest and a big old gun protect you from a truck bomb?), the headlines, the debates over what we know, how we know it, and whether or not the administration is juicing headlines for their own benefit that’s so unnerving.
You wanna talk about the threat to a free and open society this – not some lunatic with a bomb out to lay waste to the running dog lackeys of the American-Jewish-Halliburton conspiracy – is the real threat. One of the more unnerving things about visiting the East Coast – particularly Washington, D.C., are the “alerts” broadcast through the city’s subway system. I’m not a big fan of all the “1984”-style sci-fi horror stuff but getting the official warning in an officious voice over a subway intercom was creepy. And it’s not hard to see how broadcast alerts lead to citizen surveillance, is it?
Look, it’s not surprising that three years ago, Al Qaeda troops could wander into a building lobby – the Citgroup tower sits right over a busy subway station – check out the guards, ride the elevators, and wander down to the building inspections department and pull the blueprints. We live in a free and open society. And while not everyone takes advantage of these privileges – particularly the pulling blueprints part – they are available. Even for Syrian musicians flying to L.A. to play a concert.
The real problem is that this administration knows – still – very little about the people who attacked the World Trade Center. So they treat every bit of new information as a revelation; a call to action because they are scared witless and everyone else to panic, too. Because panic is, in a weird and destructive way, a form of action. It’s the wrong action at the wrong time but everyone feels better. After all they’ve done something. It’s the wrong thing — this administration is managing to make us scared not just of foriegner but of one another — but it’s something.

Share  Posted by Chris Nolan at 10:15 AM | Permalink

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