Thursday, October 12, 2006

Have the terrorists won?

by Adnan Gill

When the CNN interrupted its regular programming to break the news that an aircraft had crashed into a Manhattan, NY, apartment building; disturbing 9/11 memories overwhelmed my mind as I found myself feverishly praying, God please don’t let the pilot of the unfortunate airplane be a Muslim. I am ashamed to admit, that I was more concerned about the religious affiliation and the skin-color of the pilot of the crashed airplane than the safety and well-being of the pilot and the possible victims of the tragedy.

Almost immediately, the primitive instinct of self-preservation kicked in. Fearing reprisals, I was franticly calling and sending instant messages to family and friends advising them to stay indoors and avoid crowds as most of them happened to be Muslims and/or dark skinned.

An even more disturbing fact is that instead of feeling grief for the untimely death of the New York Yankees pitcher Cory Lidle, I was relieved to have learnt the pilot’s identity.

Initial reports of the crash had all the hallmarks of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. The crash rattled America’s nerves so bad that within 10 minutes of the crash, NORAD scrambled fighter jets over several major American cities. US Coast Guard positioned several patrol boats and a Coast Guard cuter in the East River. While, literally, hundreds of first responders harmoniously took to their rehearsed duties. The drama and anxieties about a possible terrorist strike were mounting by each minute. As soon as the drama climaxed, to everyone’s relief, it fizzled away with news about the identity of the pilot.

Apparently, I wasn’t the only one elated to have learnt about the pilot’s identity; even the whole American media seemed to have sighed a breath of relief. In what appears to be a maddening rush, joining the media chorus, even the New York mayor Michael Bloomberg in a news conference declared the plane crash to be an accident, as he appropriately patted the first responders on the back for a job well-done.

As if we wanted to be in denial, we desperately glued to our TV sets in a hope that any moment our leaders would declare the crash to be an accident. And the leaders didn’t disappoint us. Our hopes were so strong that we didn’t spare even a moment to contemplate other possibilities, like if the accident could have been an attempted suicide or a possible murder? Barely six hours later, a day that had started with revisiting the traumatic 9/11 memory lanes, it concluded with a comforting ease, that we survived another day without experiencing another terrorist attack.

Is this the state-of-mind of a nation that is winning the war on terror? Or have the terrorists already won the war of nerves? We have become a nation of paranoia, where dark skinned citizens are forced to disembark airplanes for merely passing a cell phone to each other, and the possibility of terrorism is immediately and unanimously ruled out upon learning the identity of the Caucasian pilot of a crashed plane.

President Bush, close to 3,000 brave American soldiers, and thousands upon thousands of Iraqi civilians have been sacrificed to the Gods of your so-called war on terror, but that hasn’t even given us a rudimentary sense of security. How about we look for political solutions to snuff out the ambers of terrorism?

More articles by Adnan Gill

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