Last week, in Fayetteville, Arkansas, a “command center” was set up on the south side of the square. Traffic was barricaded off to the square and College Avenue. An alert interrupted the un-interruptible light-heartedness of KKEG radio – warning the classic rock audience that the unthinkable might be occurring in the very heart of Razorback country. White powder found at the Federal Building!
Had this happened ten years ago, during the “War on Drugs”, everybody would surely have suspected this mysterious appearance to be a couple million dollars worth of cocaine some South American drug lord dumped there to hook all the kids. Development expense for future business. But, we’re in a “War on Terror” now. This stuff has got to be designed to kill.
Well, maybe. If you’re allergic to biscuits.
As it turned out, those way-too-healthy Fayettevillians were having another one of their “hash runs” (another term that would have caused problems in the drug war), and they marked the trail for the runners with flour. That path went right in front of the federal building. Some deputy saw it and our tax dollars went to work.
“In a similar incident in Connecticut in August, two people were charged with felony breach of the peace after a hash run trail forced the evacuation of a furniture store in New Haven.” – The Morning News.
The Fayetteville Police Department advised in this case that no criminal charges were likely because there was no malice or mischief involved. Not THIS time.
But don’t read that to mean that any foolish person can recklessly spill flour on the sidewalk downtown and bypass a waterboard vacation to Gitmo. When are you people going to realize that we’re approaching our 7th year of a crisis situation? We can’t be doing crazy negligent things like this. Our very survival; the power base of the President of the United States; and the campaign of Rudy Giulani are at stake. It ain’t “business as usual”.
Once, years ago, a guy tried to walk onto a plane with a bomb in his shoe, ala Maxwell Smart. Would you believe it? Now, when you take a trip, you better wear the good socks with no holes in the toes. And leave that bottle of water at home. There’ll be plenty to drink on the plane – unless you’re imprisoned on the tarmac for ten hours due to some problem with take-off, eating little bags of salty peanuts and pretzels, and the airline runs out of consumable liquids. If and when that moment presents itself to you, thank your maker that the shoe bomb guy had it where it was and not surgically implanted in some body part you might have needed when you arrived at your destination. Say, it was a leg, and you were on your way to participate in some “hash run”.
A couple of weeks before the Great Fayetteville Shutdown, California caught fire and burned to the ground. Several days into the fire, TV news stations were reporting that those fires must have been deliberately set by people with a high degree of knowledge about such things – which was why firefighters were having such a hard time putting them out. This led to speculation that those terrorists we’re so afraid of could have been the perps. But, it just so happened that the biggest of those fires was actually set by a 10 year old kid playing with matches. Apparently nobody ever told him that would cause him to wet the bed.
The point is, terrorists could set fires like that. But they haven’t, so we don’t outlaw matches. They could easily scatter a 50 pound bag of roofing nails along the L.A. freeway system any day at about 4pm, and probably net almost as many deaths as they did on 9/11. So, why are roofing nails so available? Because they haven’t done that yet. They could sneak into the nation’s zoos and turn loose all the Godless killing machine bears, who could then find their ways to our elementary schools and devour our helpless children. And yet, those zoos are still in operation, because….correct – Stephen Colbert and I are the only ones who have thought of bear liberation as a means of terrorism. In other words, if the terrorists haven’t done it yet, it’s OK. If they have done it, we’re going to freak out about that until the cows come home because we simply have no foresight and no imagination. How then, do you win a “war” on terrorism with soldiers and guns in some part of the world where everybody shoots at everybody else? What should be the preferred weapon for combating an abstract? Imaginary bombs? If you could get them all to play by the rules (and why wouldn’t they?) you might even be able to eventually kill them off. But, how would you know when they were all dead? So, how would you know when to claim victory?
Face it. Going forward, we’re just going to have to get used to being a little scared of everything, because the world just isn’t as safe a place as it used to be, and it can never be again. But it’s not good to be terrified of anything, because if we are then “terrorism”, by its very definition, has won.
© 2007 Rick Baber