Framing of Frenzied Minds
September 27, 2001
Meandering down an aisle of my local supermarket last Sunday
afternoon, I couldn't help but overhear two women voicing
their solutions to end world terrorism. Being the political
junkie that I am, as well as the inquisitive and nosey type,
I pretended to be going through the painfully excruciating
process of deciding between vanilla yogurt and the strawberry-kiwi
variety, when in truth all I wanted was to hear the thoughts
of these two women. In order to gauge the mindset, if you
like, of the typical (or as I later hoped, the atypical)
American grocery shopper.
"We should be bombing Afghanistan for what they did!!" says
one to the other.
"I heard someone on the radio say that we should drop a nuclear
bomb on them. Well that would be too good for them."
"Your not wrong," says the other, "I don't know why
we just don't go in and kill the whole lot of them... and
we should kick all the Arabs out of America too while we're
"Yes, well George Bush does say we are at war, they did round
up all the Japanese in World War 2, you know."
No, this wasn't Anne Coulter doing her weekly grocery shopping
with John Cooksey in drag - but what appeared to be two suburbanites
with no features that would distinguish them as raving lunatics.
Unless big hair has suddenly become the preferred coiffure
of the nations xenophobes.
These are trying times for us all, especially for the families
of those killed in what has become known as "The September
11 Atrocities." I certainly wouldn't blame any one of
the victims' families for wanting the same treatment these
two women endorse meted out, although what we have seen from
many victims families is the exact opposite - pleading for
peace and not retribution.
In the two weeks since September 11, members of America's
Arab communities have been worried about a backlash from the
ignorant and uninformed, and it seems sadly, with some justification.
Lebanese-American, Moukhtar Kocache, was told by a seemingly
respectable Manhattan couple to "go back to your country,
you f---ing Arabs, we should bomb the s--t out of you." Mosques
have been firebombed and vandalized around the country, a
Huntington, NY, senior citizen even attempted to run over
a Pakistani woman as she walked to her car in a mall parking
lot. And on the outskirts of Chicago, young white men bearing
bad attitudes march on a mosque every night to yell abuse
at worshipping Moslems, the vast majority of whom were born
and raised in The United States, some even having served in
this nation's armed forces.
Piercing through all the horror and grief of the tragedies
in New York and Washington is the total ignorance and lack
of knowledge some Americans have towards the Middle East,
and their total lack of understanding of both the reality
of the current situation and of the people who emanate from
that region .
Sadly, for some Americans, one only need to "look" Middle
Eastern or wear a turban to be immediately thought of as being
not only Moslem, but a supporter of terrorism.
With such ridiculousness and ignorance, is it no wonder that
even turban wearing Sikhs and Lebanese Catholics are also
being targetted by these fools?
Lets face it, there are indeed Americans who still believe
that the current President Bush is in fact the same one we
had in the four years following 1988 (and there could be some
truth to that, I'm not denying it) and I doubt they, and even
others more learned than them, could pin the tail within a
thousand miles of Afghanistan if given a map of the world,
let alone fully comprehend the true causes of Middle East
But it's in the reactions of so many Americans like these
that one becomes nervous and worried about where this country
is headed. Reactions and views that have been framed by the
Bush administration, with their dangerous overuse of the word
"war," a word that we have become accustomed to being
applied to the likes of the Great War or WW2, wars where we
had a defined enemy, an enemy we could actually see, an enemy
that was an actual country or countries and not the dark,
hidden enemy we now face. Unlike our current protagonists,
these enemies could be defeated by brute force alone.
Right-wing cable talking heads liken the current situation
to Pearl Harbor. It is no Pearl Harbor - there the perpetrators
emanated from one country. Our current nemesis is spread world-wide,
first hiding and scheming their attacks, then hitting us before
To defeat or even suppress them will require a little more
subtlety and a lot more competence from the intelligence departments
that failed us all so badly this time around.
Our over-the-top cable news channels, with their ever present
banners splashed across the top or bottom of our television
screens, also go a long way in framing the narrow views of
their viewers - like CNN declaring this "America's New War,"
as opposed I guess to "Our Last War" - or MSNBC's latest war
cry, "The New Battlefield" - or even FOX News' dramatic "War
on Terror" caption, where they used the grisliest looking
font they could possibly find to apply to the word "'terror"
in order to achieve maximum dramatization of an already horrid
event (as is their normal practice.)
These right-wing biased networks solely concentrate on what
the military action against Afghanistan may be, bringing in
supposed "military experts" to give their views on how best
to attack Afghanistan. They never give their viewers an in-depth
insight into the country or the region it resides in, instead
they are complicit partners, along with the Bush administration
and the military complex, in declaring war on Afghanistan
and its impoverished people.
Add this to the usual senseless rantings from right-wing
talk radio hosts - like G. Gordon Liddy, who has proposed
attacking no less than five Middle Eastern countries he says
harbor terrorists - or the Seattle, Washington talk jock who
has suggested the U.S use small nuclear weapons to remedy
the situation (God help us) - to right-wing hacks like Anne
Coulter, with her insane proposal to invade the whole Middle
East and then convert the entire population to Christianity.
Is it any wonder that so many Americans are so naive as to
the problems in that part of the world and are whipped up
into such a frenzy that they too want to nuke the Middle East
Anger and retribution for what was done are both natural
and very understandable. I certainly demand it, but it needs
to be against the persons responsible.
Will we really feel any better once we've exacted retribution
by killing yet more innocent people? People who are supressed
by a cruel, draconian government, who are too poor, too weak
from the long lasting drought they have endured and too uninformed
due to the ban on newspapers, television and radio (funnily
enough, in this country the opposite has the same effect on
vast numbers of Americans) to either be capable of mounting
such attacks on US soil, or to even know what had happened
here September 11?
But sadly, there are some Americans who would like to see
them bombed nonetheless, having come to the conclusion that
every Afghan is responsible for what happened, thanks to an
administration hell-bent on "war" and a media that fails or
steadfastly refuses to educate their viewers on some truths
surrounding this affair.
Like the fact that the vast, overwhelming majority of Afghans
have absolutely nothing to do with "terrorism," them
only having the misfortune of residing in a country controlled
by extremists, whom most of the people despise, extremists
who give safe haven to Osama bin Laden and his fellow terrorists.
I'm heartened that the Bush administration has not done anything
foolish as yet - but I fear that it is only a matter of time.
An all-out, massive U.S attack on Afghanistan will result
in a humanitarian crisis the world has never before seen,
with millions upon millions of Afghan refugees fleeing to
all the other 'stans surrounding them, and thousands more
being killed. This of course will then result in more innocent
Americans being killed in the ensuing wave of retribution
attacks from the terrorists.
The big wheel of death will keep going round and round and
So, are we going to act civilized in hunting down the evil
behind the September 11 atrocities and bringing them to justice,
or are we also going to be a "rogue nation," bombing
and killing the innocent in the name of retribution?
Oh, for the record, I chose vanilla yogurt in the end. I
thought I could stomach that more easily than the views of
my two fellow shoppers.