September 20, 2002

A List of Things America

A List of Things America is not Prepared For

As if the vast majority of the American public isn't scared to the point of shitting themselves about additional terrorist attacks, we learn from the level-headed reporters at that Agriculture Seen Vulnerable to Attack. Yes, according to the opening paragraph of the article, which must have gone through several drafts to optimize shock value, The United States is vulnerable to bioterrorism aimed at farms that produce the nation's food, the National Research Council concludes in a new report.

Now, before you race home to torch your refridgerator and try planting a quick garden before the encroaching onset of the Minnesota winter, let's ask an expert what he thinks of the situation.

"It's not a matter of 'if.' It's a matter of 'when,"' said R. James Cook, a council member from Washington State University. "While there may be a very low probability now, what about in 20 years?"

Okay, Mr. Cook isn't apparently the soothing voice I should have consulted. The point it this: Of fucking course there will be a higher probability in 20 years. There's also a higher probability that I'll develop cancer, or at the very least a debilitating venereal disease, after the passing of 20 years. There's a higher probability of anything happening anywhere in 20 years. Hell, Lance Bass could actually fly in space in 20 years. Who knows?

I'm in no way trying to downplay the significance of 9/11. It truly was a national tragedy, and it still leaves me teary eyed when I see footage of that horrible day. However, it just seems as if news agencies have embraced 9/11 as an excuse to let their paranoid minds run wild. Granted, anthrax gave us all a nice little scare, but in the end it proved to be a highly ineffectual means of attack, causing five deaths. Compared to the 3,000 that died when the planes struck, that's nothing.

The council report released Thursday said an attack on food production probably wouldn't lead to famine or malnutrition, but it could hurt public confidence in the food supply and disrupt the economy, costing millions if not billions of dollars.

Shit, is that all? Public confidence in the food supply could be hurt? Hell, my confidence in the food supply was hurt when I saw that the cuisine at the Minnesota State Fair included deep fried Twinkies (and, no, I'm not kidding). My advice to, however, is that, if the worst case scenario is shaken confidence, perhaps they could run a complementary photo of someone about to eat a hot dog with a worried expression on his or her face, rather than the disturbing image of a ditch full of bovine being torched (a stock photo from Britain's foot-and-mouth disease woes from a year ago).

Although Veneman's department commissioned the report, it had sought to withhold its release, fearing it could be used as a resource for terrorists planning to attack the nation's food supply.

Oh, yeah, media outlets and government offices have shown remarkable restraint in keeping a lid on potential terrorist targets. In the days following 9/11, we've been treated to a smorgasboard of potential terror strikes, some targets that may not have been even entertained in the minds of terrorists until they saw it on TV.

TERRORIST 1: Man, I really feel like spreading some good ole' fashioned terror today, but I just can't think of what to do.

TERRORIST 2: Hmmm, well, turn on the TV.

ANNOUNCER: A government spokesmen today, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that America's water supply is dangerously at risk to terrorist attack, saying that a five gallon mixture of the following chemicals: cyanide, potassium, Tidy Bowl toilet cleaner and Diet Coke, poured into the New York City water supply, could result in millions of deaths in a 24 hour period.

TERRORISTS 1 and 2 (biffing themselves on the forehead): Why the hell didn't we think of that?!!

I know, I know. I learned early on in my mass communications classess that the journalist's credo is "If it bleeds, it leads," or, alternatively "If it shocks, it rocks." Still, I think the media's infatuation with potential attacks somehow takes focus away from the fact that America has been a pretty quiet and safe place to live in the year following 9/11.

Yesterday, a suicide Palestinian bomber killed six Israelis in Tel Aviv, a reality of daily life no matter where you're at or what you're doing in Israel, whether you're Israeli, Palestinian, American, or other. Now that's living in terror.

Now, in a bid to boost my site traffic, I'm going to repeat the name Hanna Montana a few times. Hanna Montana. Hanna Montana. Hanna Montana. Hanna Montana. Hanna Montana. Hanna Montana. Oh, and Amanda Overmeyer. Amanda Overmeyer. Amanda Overmeyer. Evanna Lynch. Evanna Lynch. Evanna Lynch.

Posted by Ryan at September 20, 2002 03:26 PM
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