Postcard from the US

Oct 25th, 2001, 08:03 AM
  #1  
Sleepless in America
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Postcard from the US

Hello, friends,

As I read all the posts here and on the US board, I wonder if Europeans really know what it's like here in the US right now. There are almost two different countries: one is focused on and based on the NYC-Washington scene, and that includes most of the national media; the other is the "rest of the country." Most Americans live in both countries at once, which is making us all a little crazy.

I live at some distance from NY-DC in a medium-sized town, but I have beloved relatives and friends in those and other "target" cities. I am also an academic interested in American culture and media. So I watch everything more or less with a "third eye."

When we tune in to the broadcast news in the morning or the evening, we hear about the bombing of Afghanistan, which seems so far away and so tricky: will it stop anyone from attacking us again? Is there a chance in hell of finding bin Laden? If we did, would it make any difference? Are we making many, many more enemies? Does dropping the food make any difference at all? But it's so far away -- as far away as Viet Nam was.

Then we hear about fresh cases of anthrax and increasingly sharp warnings from government officials: it is close to home -- might be in our own mailboxes; it is more dangerous than they thought; we will probably have more attacks. It might be from Iraq, they say -- would this mean an expanded war? or a greater threat than bin Laden's bands? How would it happen? Where?

Every so often, a government official takes it on himself to re-iterate -- in ever-stronger terms -- that we will be attacked again, that we will lose many more Americans at home or at work or on the road. "Prepare for more sacrifices for our country." But what do we do about that? Do we fight back? How? And what, pray tell, is this supposed to be about? Is it the desperate have-nots attacking the complacent haves? Is it Islam attacking Judeo-Christianity? Is it a hysterical mob of murderous animals bent on destroying orderly human society?

Well, around here -- far from DC or NY -- everyone is sure they know what this is all about. In the spectacular autimn weather, they put flags on lapels and bumpers and go back to watching "reality" TV. Liberals claim to be born-again patriots and stay mum on increased government intervention; conservatives claim to have known all along that liberals were traitorous fools, while quietly fighting to keep travel security in private hands.

But mainly out here in the hustings, we are "proudly keeping terrorism from winning" by not being afraid to drive our SUVs, or argue about the best Hawaiian island, or blindly believe that airport security is now adequate.

It's clear to me that outside of Washington and New York, people have no idea of the acute anxiety and sorrow in those places; but out here, many of us are reduced to confusion and waiting. Just waiting. What will happen next? Maybe it won't, I think some mornings. Certainly it will, I think on other mornings. Then I get up and go to work.

So come on over -- stay outside a major city and get to know the "real" America. Where some of us are right back to business-as-usual, and some of us are waiting. Just helplessly waiting.
 
Oct 25th, 2001, 09:28 AM
  #2  
Backtonormal
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Isn't it time to get back to normal? 30,000 people die EVERY YEAR in car accidents in the US. The chance that you die tomorrow while driving to work is much bigger than dying from a terrorist attack.
 
Oct 25th, 2001, 10:31 AM
  #3  
Please
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If I hear that analogy one more time I may scream. How many traffic accidents kill 5000 people at a time?
 
Oct 25th, 2001, 12:07 PM
  #4  
Ohyeah
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Oh I see. It's not the number of deaths that count, but whether or not they are on the same day or not?
Thousands and thousands of unrelated deaths aren't so bad, because they don't happen at once.

I don't think it hurts any less to lose your son, daughter, mother, father, lover, friend in a one off senseless road accident than in a terrorist attack. Does it?
 
Oct 25th, 2001, 12:45 PM
  #5  
minbrooklyn
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Sorry, You've Got It, but the 9/11 attack is much different, imo, to the statistics you're citing. This was a tremendous act of violence, of war, done to a civilian population, and it hasn't really stopped. And it's not over yet, we are at war right now.
 
Oct 25th, 2001, 12:50 PM
  #6  
Ohyeah
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I didn't cite any statistics, that was someone else. I commented afterwards.
Of course it's different.
And it's very scarey and unsettling for Americans to have to deal with terrorism on home terrority.
But as far as I am concerned, if I lose a loved one when a drunk driver hits them in a lorry head on or in a terrorist bombing, I am going to be equally devasted each way.
And since there is more chance of that happening, I am still going to worry about that more.
 
Oct 25th, 2001, 01:02 PM
  #7  
Michelle
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Uh... BIG difference. Just because people die in car accidents (either through drunk driving or other means) doesn't make me afraid to get into a car, either as a driver or passenger. and I have been in a MAJOR car accident. I don't get scared when I see a car. I don't wonder if the cars in the street are going to crash into my building and kill us all. When I hear a car drive by, I don't pause to hear if a huge BOOM will follow.

Maybe it's because I live here in NYC and was directly impacted by the events of 9/11 but PLEASE don't compare this to people dying in car accidents.
 
Oct 25th, 2001, 01:23 PM
  #8  
Elizabeth
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Actually--I do not believe that the emotions of people who lose someone they love in a terrorist mass murder of civilians are the same as the emotions of people who lose someone they love in a car accident. Some of the emotions are the same, and others are unique to the situation. It is a different thing, to try (it is impossible) to come to grips with the fact that your husband, say, was murdered by someone wanting to destroy the World Trade Towers, than it is to deal with his sudden loss in an accident where no one killed him intentionally.
 
Oct 25th, 2001, 01:27 PM
  #9  
Michelle
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Very nicely said, Elizabeth.
 
Oct 25th, 2001, 05:31 PM
  #10  
Mark
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And I suppose there was really no difference between those Brits killed in the London blitz or in WW2 in general compared to those killed in train, lorry, boating, hunting, or car accidents?

Ralph Nader notwithstanding, the auto manufacturers are not at war with American drivers; and with a few exceptions (as Elizabeth points out), most auto accidents do not entail continuing murderous intent.

There is an enormous difference between losing someone to an accident and losing the population of a small town to an act of war.

It seems to me, "Backto," and "Oh yeah," that you have zero perception of what has just happened, and it won't be until you have anthrax in your own mail or a couple of city blocks destroyed in your own town that you "get it." At least one of you is British ("lorry"), and I would think you might have a little more comprehension based either on WW2 memories or even IRA activities.

And I am not shaking my finger in any kind of superior warning or threat -- just stating the obvious -- when I point out that Tony Blair's support of the US in Afghanistan, while gratifying to Americans, puts your island on the list with all the American targets.

If you prefer, you can go out and see how many cars you can dodge and thereby claim that statistics are with you.

What do you figure the actuaries had to say on Sept. 10th about the odds of someone dying in one of two collapsing 110-story buildings?
 
Oct 25th, 2001, 05:55 PM
  #11  
sad
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My friend is an actuary and he was on the 31st floor of Tower #1 and he got out of the building alive...I will try to ask him if he is worried about driving in a car now-Although thousands of people in India and Asia die in monsoons, and floods-that isn't any consolation either for sending your husband/son/father to work in the morning, then watching the news and seeing an airplane crash into the building and kill them...I do not understand the trivializing of this by comparing it to car accidents.
People have been dying in car accidents since cars got out on the roads, how often have 5,000 people been killed going about a normal days business?
 
Oct 25th, 2001, 06:02 PM
  #12  
Shana
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The point isn't to trivialize the losses nor the anguish nor the worry. I think Sleepless gives an interesting picture, and the car-accident statistics are tangential at best to trying to explain where we're at. And I agree, the motives of those citing them seems odd -- as if saying if you worry about terrorism you're an idiot. Ostrich thinking, at the very least, with a touch of arrogance.

However, if you want an even more vivid idea of the various ways people are reacting and what they are actually coping with, you should read the "How are DC Fodorites coping?" thread on the US forum, esp. Ilisa's contribution.
 
Oct 25th, 2001, 09:57 PM
  #13  
Backtonormal
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Seems that the terrorists have won. Don't be scared. Go on with your life. The chance that you die in a car accident today is MUCH bigger than the chance that you die in a terrorist attack.
Think about the people in Afghanistan: they are bombed every night. They have reason to be scared. They are also true victims.
 
Oct 26th, 2001, 05:28 AM
  #14  
S.J.
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Honestly, "Back to," you just don't get it! Is it your habit to ignore everyone else's comments and repeat yourself? Quit talking about those infernal fatal car crashes -- it's a completely specious comparison that is just plain insulting to our intelligence and certainly to all those lost in the Pentagon and the WTC.
 
Oct 26th, 2001, 10:34 AM
  #15  
Michelle
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Backto... my jaw drops when I read your post. They are the true victims?!?!? Please, PLEASE tell us where you live. Your post indicates that you must live in a CAVE somewhere!!! You know what?!?!? I and many others here and in WDC are the TRUE victims!! I lost more people than I care to think about. I have attended more funerals and memorials in the past 4 weeks than I ever thought I would IN MY ENTIRE LIFE!!! I have yet to sleep without being woken up by a nightmare of planes exploding and people jumping out of windows!!

So don't talk about your car crashes and "true" victims.... please.
 
Oct 26th, 2001, 10:58 AM
  #16  
ttt
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up
 
Oct 26th, 2001, 10:59 AM
  #17  
anon
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Backtonormal - don't you need to go buy another pair of kahkis at the GAP or get your nails and hair done....go back to your insulated life....sorry reality is getting in the way of you not caring about anything but yourself.....
 
Oct 26th, 2001, 01:47 PM
  #18  
Topper
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ttt
 
Oct 27th, 2001, 01:10 AM
  #19  
Backtonormal
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You people don't get it. Of course, when you lost a loved one on 9/11 you have every right to be sad and devastated. But the 30,000 who died in traffic accidents last year also leave loved ones behind and these people are also sad and devastated.
But to all of you who didn't loose a loved one on 9/11: DON'T LET THE TERRORISTS WIN. It is time to lead our lives. Get back to normal. If you continue to be scared the economy will collapse. You need to eat, drink, party, travel, buy stuff. On average, you are going to live 79 years. Don't waste any more days being scared.
 
Oct 27th, 2001, 04:54 AM
  #20  
mj
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To: Backto,
I had written quite a bit in an attempt to help you understand why I believe your perceptions are incorrect, but deleted it.

Instead, I refer you to your local library, specifically the history section, where I think you will gain some insite by reading about British politician Neville Chamberland.

If, after reading same, you can not make the comparison of your position to his (before WWII) then, I suggest deep immersion courses in logic, the nature of mans inhumanity to man (aka war), and, perhaps, a checkup, from the neck up by a mental health professional.

mj - 32 miles from the WTC.
 

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