Terror du Jour

Thursday, 9-12-2019. I usually try to mark momentous historical moments with a personal (and to some degree, formally informed) commentary of the then and now that reflects upon what history offers. Thus, where the hell was I yesterday, on the 18th anniversary of the 9-11-2001 terrorist attacks that quickly became noted as a variation on the Pearl Harbor attack that ushered the U.S. into WWII? Well, I was reflecting on 9-11 as I noted the day, but couldn’t come up with a line of reasoning to evoke what remains in my memory of that day, and what has transpired since.

What, generally, has transpired? There have been no other foreign borne attacks on our soil. That’s great, of course. Not that there hasn’t been other terror attacks, however. What?, you wonder am I alluding to? What terror attacks? You must be confused with another country. Oh, come on. You damn well ought to know what I am referring to. Hint: it has to do with the use of bullets. Bullets ripping through human flesh, borne by anything from handguns to rapid-fire, military style assault weapons. You should know by now how virtually weekly, at times recently even daily, come accounts of the now common use term “active shooter” nightmare scenario. At this point, educational institutions from K thru college have put in place the so-called “active shooter drills”. You know, just in case, well, the next shooter decides to act on some sense of disapproval or disappointment wherever one might happen to be in a classroom. And now we have those bullet proof backpacks as part of a response policy to these TERROR attacks.

However, these vicious and senseless attacks are not part of any Taliban or any Muslim-backed hate group. Not at all. Our mass shooters–the terrorists–are apparently always home grown, white males. I doubt that the crazed gunmen have killed more than the 2,900+ that died when the 9-11 attacks occurred, but consider this: As of right now, today, there have been more mass shootings than there have been DAYS in the year 2019. There have been 256 days (today is 9-12) in 2019, and a total of 283 mass shootings. The dead are in the hundreds. The wounded more than a thousand.

After 9-11, our response was to create the Homeland Security agency, and generally, incrementally, surveil we the people as part of sniffing out any possible sequels to 9-11-2001. I guess it must be working, since as noted no other foreign attacks have occurred. Hooray! In the meantime, our privacy has been compromised. A sense of anyone is suspicious is in effect, with tightened security, and “profiling” used to zoom in on those who might appear or act well, “suspicious” a la 9-11 terrorists. The most glaring reminder of how tight security has become is when one has to pass muster at any U.S.airport. Off with the belt. Off with the shoes. Stand in the scanning apparatus, receive a thorough pat-down, have your hands swabbed for what?–traces of explosive chemicals?–and maybe a rummaging through one’s luggage. Even children and the very elderly are not exempt from the process. No more O.J racing through an airport to get to that gate a the last moment. Those days are gone forever, over a long time ago (18 years, that is).

But what about detecting the next potential active shooter? We clearly do not have any effective screening for that type of terrorist. When El Paso and Dayton each had their crazed gunman terror attack within a day of one another, a sort of nadir had seemingly been reached. Could it get any worse? 31 total dead, dozens more wounded and the stories were so close together one might be forgiven for thinking the second was actually still referencing the first attack, with further updates. No, it was El Paso, Texas. Dayton, Ohio. And now the public just had to expect it was time for some real goddam legislative action to address this insanity. But in spite of such an outcry, exactly NOTHING has been done by our congress. After 9-11, the wheels almost instantly went into motion to do anything–even some unconstitutional action–to prevent another such attack.

As for mass shootings, which pre-date 9-11 as in the University of Texas clock tower gunman picking off 17 campus strolling folks in 1966, and Columbine High School and 13 shot dead there in 1999, there appears to be no will on the part of our government to protect the public from what–as already noted–has become a horrific, common occurrence. Shameful, I’d say. Disgraceful. Despicable. But there’s that gun lobby. And there are those bought-and-paid-for congress critters who abide by the NRA and are clearly not ashamed of all that innocent blood they must know is on their hands. Virtually, if not literally, all the blood shed at the hands of domestic terrorists. White. Male. Terrorists.

Do you feel safer anymore now than on September 11, 2001? If you are more than a handful of years old, with mass shootings occurring as an inconceivable quotidian reality. where is this safe place anymore? Not a school. Or a theater. Nor a shopping mall. Not a place of worship. Not an outdoor concert. It’s now devolved into not a matter of if another attack will occur, but when it will occur. Where it will occur might be just about anywhere. As I now sit operating the computer keyboard at a public library, it most certainly could happen here. Or has a library been shot up too? I have lost track of the places that once upon a time suggested one could go into and have every expectation of leaving on one’s own accord. Not in a body bag or by ambulance, with blood oozing from one body part or another.

Thank goodness we have prevented any further coordinated, diabolically plotted 9-11s from turning our world upside down. That was a nightmare of a day, writ large enough to garner the sympathy of most of the rest of the civilized world. As for the active shooter scenario, it may occur seemingly every single day, on average, but it evidently isn’t much of a blip on the radar of our elected officials. Of course they KNOW it’s a major problem, but hey, apparently it still, if it’s even possible, required to become an even BIGGER, more mind-shattering nightmare that demands action. Now! Like yesterday, or like back in 2012, when Sandy Hook had its crazed, white male shooter take out 20 six and seven-year olds. Little children. Ripped apart by bullets. I figured that had to be the nadir. A bottoming out point that would force a change in our lax and loony gun policy on easy access to absurdly dangerous weapons, change that demanded immediate action.

Silly me! Is there a lower level than what “nadir” asserts?: the lowest point in the fortunes of a person or an organization.

Where’s that thesaurus?

About jharrin4

mass communication/speech instructor at College of DuPage and Triton College in suburban Chicago. Army veteran of the Viet Nam era.
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2 Responses to Terror du Jour

  1. The lack of response to Sandy Hook redefined the US, and we have yet to recover our moral compass. How low can we go? Nadir TBD.


  2. This country is SICK. Mass shootings regularly occur. It is considered a stupid to now give meaningless ‘thoughts and prayers’. NSA peeks into our everyday lives. I personally think Snowden is a hero for exposing this dark side of technology.
    My rotten Senator Todd Young [R-IN] was paid $2,896,732 by the NRA. He certainly isn’t in favor of any gun restrictions. I pass by gun shows in the Crown Point, IN fairgrounds and want to barf. There is a gun shop about 10 minutes from my place.
    I was in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, woke up and put on CNN International. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing and called a girlfriend who told me what had happened.
    So, our personal freedoms are now being tracked. With Trump in power, Big Brother could start deciding who is thinking incorrectly. I’m certainly on that list. So are you.


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