September 11, 2001

Why? and what to do now?

 ... conversations with just plain folks

by Jackie Wattenberg

Like all Americans, a local auto repair manager was stunned and mystified by the attack on the World Trade Center towers.

"It's a shocking disaster. Nobody wants a repeat of this, but what to do? I wouldn't know what to do. We have to find out where they came from, who taught them to be like this, and why? It's up to the FBI and CIA -- they get enough money from our taxes to find out.

"We haven't tightened security enough -- I wouldn't want to work in the Empire State Building! I think these terrorists are jealous of our freedom ... why have we carelessly let so many enter here?

"Now the country is scared to spend money; I'm having trouble getting parts for repairs -- I can't get next-day deliveries any more." With a deep frown of concern, he hurried out to a new horn-tooting customer.

Senior Citizen G. took time out from her Senior Citizen class to express her worry about the disaster. "I was so shocked. The last time I felt like that was when JFK was shot -- the world seemed to stop. This time I was sitting in knitting class when they put on the TV and we saw the first tower smoking. Why did they do this? Well, they say jealousy is the root of all evil, envy of our technology ... but in Europe they hate us too, because we stick our noses in everybody else's business, we have our troops all over the world; Greece, where I visited last year, is so glad to have our soldiers and ships out of their country, finally. They didn't want them there. The Muslims feel we interfere all over too much.

What can we do? "Step up security at airports, the guards lack experience. Maybe stop letting in so many foreigners. In Afghanistan we took their side (bin Laden's armies' side) when Russia tried to defeat them; when the Russians were defeated and left, we left them alone --'See ya,' we said. We abandoned them, didn't help them get the country back together again."

Should we bomb Afghanistan? "On no! Then we'd be as bad as they are!" Ladies sitting on both sides of her were compelled to answer with: "Oh no! No bombing! That would make things worse! No bombing!"

Senior citizen Bridget feels that "This was coming for 10 years, it's like a story. Where were our spies -- the FBI and CIA? Where were they when a plane was late or off course? There should have been ways to detect this." A week before the President announced the change, she said, "The Federal government should take over the inspection of airports -- and also our elections for President, they're both so important. To me, the people in the plane that landed in Pennsylvania are all heroes.

"Why did this happen? Let's go back to the Indians -- we took their land and burial grounds. How can we defend this? Maybe those terrorists got mad at America for going into some of their lands without permission. We always have planes, et cetera, ready for war too soon. Look, people sit down, eat a meal, and then dessert, no hurry, all in order. So now we have to take our time, figure it all out.

"The media shouldn't tell all about new things for planes, keep some of it secret. And pilots must be protected -- the door so tight that not even air can get in; they can look out but nobody can see in. They should have a button to push to release something to put everybody else on the plane to sleep, heavier fumes in the aisles where the troublemakers would be. Security should take a picture of each passenger at entry, and of their baggage, to be able to check backgrounds quickly.

"We're in a real predicament now, we have to closely watch all of our planes and ships. We need protection for our citizens here at home, so it's too bad the President handed back so much money in tax rebates. Should we bomb Afghanistan? No! That's what they want us to do, get bogged down in a place that they know better than we do, and if we kill their leader, another one will just step up into his shoes -- and then get even with us by another attack. So many are struggling today, have lost their jobs. We have to concentrate on our people here at home."

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