September 12, 2006

Five Years Later:A Reflection

My wife and I spent the first night of our honeymoon in a cheap Waikiki Beach hotel called Banana Bungalows. They gave us a twin room instead of a double, but we were not too worried: we were only supposed to be there for one night. We were flying on to Jamaica the next day. But things don’t always go the way you had planned.

I rang the desk clerk in the morning to ask about checkout times. He said Honolulu airport was closed and all flights were grounded indefinitely.

“Switch on your TV,” he suggested. Then he hung up.

Like millions of people around the world, we were soon staring in mute horror at the burning images of the World Trade Centre. And for the next week, trapped on the island of Oahu (even the inter-island boats were grounded) we watched these huge symbols of American power collapse again and again and again.

Wherever we went, in every shop, hotel, restaurant and bar, people were glued to FOX and CNN, 24 hours a day, staring slack-jawed at the endless replays of planes hitting towers, towers collapsing, people covered in dust, people racing in blind panic, people staggering helplessly through debris-littered streets, fire-fighters struggling to reach the inferno, bodies crashing and thudding to the ground around them.

It was a bizarre start to our honeymoon. Every morning, my wife and I would walk the sunny streets of Waikiki looking for a decent cup of coffee (on the Hawaiian islands, even in 5-star hotels, UHT milk is the norm). Then we would sit down and search the Honolulu papers for news.

I was increasingly puzzled by the US government's response to the attacks. Planes remained grounded across the country day after day, with no word on when flights might resume. All major sporting and entertainment events were cancelled. Even Little League baseball games were cancelled!

And yet, day after day, with an anxious world watching and angry citizens demanding answers, Bush himself did nothing. Sure, there was talk of frenzied meetings in the White House. And the papers were full of speculation. But with millions of people glued to their TV sets, day after day, the "President" himself said barely a word. The public fear and hysteria built.

Maybe that was the point.

I had lived in London for many years, at a time when IRA bombs were exploding at Tube Stations every other month. I spent a year working in Madrid, where Basque separatist ETA terrorists targeted innocent civilians on a regular basis. So I was more than a little perplexed by the Bush administration’s weird lack of action.

I couldn't help comparing Bush’s response with Margaret Thatcher's. When the IRA blew up a toilet she had just used in a Brighton Beach hotel, she immediately called a press conference and went straight into makeup. A few minutes later she calmly appeared on national TV, telling everybody to "Carry on as usual".

In the end, isn’t that the only way to defeat terrorism: by refusing to be terrified?


gandhi said...

You know, the funny thing is that five years ago, I was not much interestested in politics!

thepoetryman said...

iiI suppose not being terrified would be the idea... And rooting out terrorists and a flawed foreign policy from our own government would be a good step, too.

Hope all is well with you and yours.


Anonymous said...

I almost got interested in politics, but the noise coming from both sides just makes my eyes glaze over.
It seems to me that the less the politicians get done, the more job security they have.
Same with religion.
None of them want the return of Christ. It would put them right outta business.
In the mean time churches don't have to pay taxes, but the poor still do.
(Don't get me wrong, there are many righteous people and organizations around the world)
One thing i ponder is, Jesus was a Jew but they were rejected.
Wouldn't Christ reject the Christians too?
(If the second coming will be like the first)
OK i'll stop now. People around me are starting to call me a Christian basher.
I just want to get to the Truth.

Anonymous said...

Oops, that was me, dougman.
Hoping for peace.

gandhi said...

Here's a quick test to see if people really are Christians, or just say/think they are:

"QUESTION: Given that the Bible says Thou Shalt Not Kill, do you believe killing is ever justified?"

It's that simple.

Anonymous said...

I wanted to get back here sooner than this but my situation only allows for a very limited amount of time to be online.

"QUESTION: Given that the Bible says Thou Shalt Not Kill, do you believe killing is ever justified?"

My answer is yes.
I no longer consider myself a christian though.

i would love to expand on this but as usual, "Time is Money" and i don't have much of either.



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