PREPAREDNESS FOR WHAT? What better time to educate the country about terrorist threats than September, right after the kids go back to school? After all, if you can get people thinking about gas masks or how fast they can drive out of the city if a dirty bomb goes off, they might have less time to contemplate other matters ... like, I don't know, the presidential election or something.
So you've got to wonder - or maybe not - about the Department of Homeland Security's plans to kick off National Preparedness Month on September 9. The timing alone sets off WMD sirens: the Republican National Convention will have just concluded, and the third anniversary of the terrorist attacks will follow two days later.
Not that any of this could possibly have anything to do with politics. After all, as Homeland Security secretary Tom Ridge recently explained, "We don't do politics." Never mind that his earlier terror warning, right after the Democratic National Convention, amounted to little more than a free ad for Bush-Cheney 2004, with Ridge hailing "the president's leadership in the war against terror."
NPR's On the Media has a splendid segment on this fiasco, which you can listen to in RealAudio here. Brooke Gladstone interviews Bob Harris, the author of a withering post at This Modern World.
I do not necessarily subscribe to the theory that Dick Cheney's got Osama bin Laden's head in a freezer somewhere, ready for George W. Bush to pull out from beneath the podium about midway through the third debate. But there's no question that these people are willing to go a long way to keep power.
Look at the terrorist arrest sprung just before John Kerry's acceptance speech, a matter that the New Republic has reported on in great detail.
Here's a thought for National Preparedness Month: what are your family's plans for dealing with dubious political propaganda in the weeks leading up to the presidential election?
Leaving aside the question of whether the campaign itself is a good idea, as well as whether the timing is non-political, it is quite clear to me that many and perhaps most Americans are in a 9/10 stage (threat level honey dew). Just one small example is the widespread use of flip flops. One can barely imagine footwear less useful in an emergency situation and yet Americans of all ages and colors wear flip flops as if the only thing bothering them is the fashion police (which seems to be on strike, but that's another issue).
So I guess the government's anti-terrorism efforts have succeeded in making Americans feel extraordinarily safe. Taken one step further, this means the USA Patriot Act can also be blamed for the prevalence of flip-flops, or Satan's soles, as they should be known.
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