What the US papers say
Thursday November 1, 2001
Thursday November 1, 2001
The Boston Globe ponders the latest warning that America may soon be the target for further terrorist attack. The paper is worried about the vagueness of the warning: "Americans have been second-guessing every weekend plan and elevator ride since terrorism hijacked the national peace of mind seven weeks ago.
"They have been twitching at the sound of airplane engines, cancelling vacations, opening the mail with rubber gloves, and feeling the palms sweat when TV stations start scrolling the latest news bulletins along the bottom of the screen. The terrorist warnings from the government feel like live scrolls, interrupting the already scary programming of getting through the day as the nation gets through the war.
Yes, we want to know if something bad is about to happen. But vague references to unnamed dangers heighten terror rather than alertness."
The Chicago Sun Times is also concerned about the new national state of fearfulness: "America is in a state of alert, but it seems as if it will be a permanent state of alert, at least for the time being. Someday, when this trying period is past, we will not want to look back at how frightened we were, how we cast aside pleasures and routines in the face of a nebulous threat. We don't have to.
"We can be vigilant and still live our lives. In Jerusalem, after a grisly bombing at a crowded restaurant killed 15 people and injured 130, the restaurant was quickly reopened and packed once more with patrons. Because the Israelis know that to do otherwise would be to let the terrorists win. And the terrorists cannot be allowed to win."
The Miami Herald has a twist on the theme, with a guest column by Silas House, a rural mail deliverer. He writes movingly about the new fear which permeates his work: "I am paranoid now at work. I handle thousands of letters and packages every day, so it would seem foolish not to be somewhat apprehensive. I am willing to make the effort, though, because I want the mail to keep moving.
"I want people to have that sense of normalcy. I need that normalcy myself. So I will go into work tomorrow and put on my gloves and mask and take a chance. I will drive through the blazing mountains of autumn, a bucolic setting in threatening times. I don't pretend to be a hero, but I will make a small sacrifice for my country. It's my way of spitting in the faces of those who try to terrorise us."
In President Bush's home state of Texas, the Dallas Morning News is in belligerent mood. It says that the war so far has been "antiseptic" - fought at long distance from the air: "That will most assuredly change.
"This week there is speculation that a land base may be established within Afghanistan for allied forces. The day is coming, perhaps soon, when the United States and its allies will attack on land in force. It is a strategy that will carry with it a consequent risk of greater casualties. We Americans must steel ourselves for that eventuality. We must prepare ourselves to sacrifice blood and treasure, as our ancestors did, to preserve our freedom.
"We must be patient and forbearing even while enduring bioterrorism scares down the block. We must be relentless in our determination to win however long it takes."
Columnist Jonathan Foreman, writing in the New York Post, launches a broadside against Islamist intolerance of other faiths, exemplified in the weekend massacre of Christians in Pakistan: "It's all very well to assure others and ourselves that we are not engaged in a war against Islam, and that support for al-Qaida is hardly universal among the world's diverse Muslim populations - but it's also worth remembering that our treasured notions of religious equality and freedom of belief don't command the same respect once you go far enough east or south of Istanbul.
"And while there is intolerance in every society (including ours), religious intolerance has support or at least the acquiescence of the state in many Muslim societies. Indeed, it is all too common for Christians (and Jews and other religious minorities, such as the Bahai in Iran) to face intolerance amounting to persecution."
©Copyright 2001, The Gurdian (UK)