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This world has no need for weapons, Which soon turn on themselves.


As this is being written, bleary-eyed revelers are still making their way out of Times Square. High on the rooftops above, the police snipers - likely bored, cold, and tired - are getting ready to pack it in for another day. The people manning the metal-detector checkpoints are counting down the minutes of overtime left, counting down the minutes until they too can pull the plug and head home to their families. And the drunken partygoers are doing all the things drunken partygoers do on New Year's morning on Times Square: Drink some more, make out with one another, fight, shout, sing songs, vomit on the sidewalk. Another new day in the US of A, another new year to be lived in the shadow of a dimly-understood terror.

Terror's new to America; we haven't quite figured out how to hang with it yet. While elsewhere on the globe, people more familiar with the ever-present threat of bus bombs, hails of bullets, police cordons, and bomb-sniffing dogs enter their new year utilizing coping skills learned through years of living beneath the shadow - people in Chechnya, Israel, Northern Ireland, East Timor, the Occupied Territories - we sleepwalk into it. We do our best to pretend that it's perfectly normal to party down while cop choppers equipped with radioactivity-detection equipment circle overhead, party beneath the watchful eye of snipers. We drink and nod and wave and weave and sing. Mostly, we just deny.

It's all ok, isn't it? Well, isn't it? You can still get Bud Light down at the 7-11. Dick Clark's still "rocking," in the loosest possible terms, on the TV set. There are still jobs to go to and DVDs to watch and cars to buy and frozen pizzas to eat. There are still houses to live in, hospitals to go to if you're sick, schools and colleges to attend, taxes to pay. The streets aren't littered with bodies yet, and we aren't under martial law or police curfew. Our lives haven't changed that much. Sure, there was 9-11, but that was over a year ago and our officially recognized season of collective mourning has come and gone. Our architects and city planners are already planning bigger, better, more expensive, more structurally-sound towers to fill that empty space downtown, so it's all alright. Isn't it?

And our leaders are watching out for us, after all. Aren't they? Following careful analysis, due consideration, and earnest prayers to Almighty God, they've struck back at the very heart of terror, sending Al Queda skittering hither and yon, bombing towns and caves and arid deserts, shipping captives off to secure processing centers in airtight containers in the name of our safety and security. And it's worked. Hasn't it?

And now we have seen the enemy again, and his name is Hussein. Our president has declared him an enemy of the American people, and has worked diligently to persuade a world community that just won't understand that peace, freedom, and justice depend upon our unfettered ability to blow his already-decimated country into tinier pieces. But never fear: Our president has told us that we have the ability to go it alone, and go it alone we shall, if need be. We can beat him. Our manifest destiny decrees that we have the right and the responsibility to cleanse the earth of all people, weaponry, ideologies, and leaders which we think might threaten our sanctified and God-blessed way of life. Doesn't it?

So any day now, we'll be able to tune in to Nightline to the familiar and comforting sight of bombs over Baghdad. A leather-jacket-clad SCUD stud cloned from the Arthur Kent stable of selected-for-authoritative-and-reassuring-presence faux journalists will solemnly and calmly tell us how our Patriot missiles are hitting the mark every time, that collateral damage has been kept to a minimum, that the terrorist curs are on the run, and that that wasn't really a baby formula factory we just blew out of existence.

And we'll put flags on our car antennas and tie yellow ribbons 'round our old oak trees. We'll send valentines and chocolate easter bunnies to our men and women in uniform. We'll proudly take stock of how we've "come together as a nation" and how "there is a new spirit of pride in America," and we'll pat ourselves on the back for a job well done. When the program's over, we'll sidle over to the Frigidaire for leftovers and the last beer of the evening. And then we'll fall asleep snug in our beds, content in the knowledge that Dubya is watching over us, and yes, he and Jesus love us, every one.

Meanwhile, in bombed-out office buildings and the rubble of ruined apartments, in cellars and cafes and mosques and vegetable markets, in Islamabad and Cairo and Karachi, a new nation will be born - first only in the form of unquenchable anger, an anger born of exploitation, deprivation, and desperation. It will grow in the form of a hatred as virulent and communicable as any biological agent born in the bowels of the Pentagon. It will spread from mother to daughter, brother to brother, father to son, to be carried from one generation to the next. It will be a nation without a leader, borders, or an anthem, but a nation nonetheless. A superpower forged in the hot coals of rage.The world over, tens of millions will look at America, and pray for revenge.

And when the next airliner plows into a packed stadium in Seattle or a nuclear plant in New Jersey, America will cry, wail, fume, and collectively wonder why They Hate Us So Much.

Welcome to 2003. Welcome to ground zero.

-- David Livingstone

[note: this was published in January 2003 as, having rebuilt our store of cruise missiles depleted while bombing Afghanistan 'back to the stone age', we moved towards war in Iraq. The website ( has long since disappeared, but the words of David Livingstone are well worth preserving and remembering, to my mind
- Ed Iglehart]

It was re-circulated via a Muslim Student news service with interesting comments from the editor

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