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A Comment On Complacency

Let this be a reminder that the memories of September 11, 2001 have not faded, at least not in the minds of many residents of New York City. Until I realized this evening that the results of the $300,000+ flyover photo-op were going to be suppressed for some reason, I was going to allow the passage of time to let the incident fade.

By now, others have commented on this incident. It was a promotional flight over lower Manhattan on April 27th by the back-up 747 known as Air Force One accompanied by F-16 fighters. Leaving politics on the table, examine the way in which NY'ers responded to the fly-over. There was true fear and panic.

In an instant, New Yorkers, whose memories are indelibly etched with the visions of the two jet planes that became missiles crumbling the World Trade Center to the ground were revived and shaken. Yet, it appears that many others have grown to forget in the complacency of no attacks since September 11th. Not unlike the explosion of the steam pipe in midtown Manhattan a few years ago, the response and reaction of New Yorkers to the site of a plane flying low over the skyline reinforces the belief that many have not forgotten. I spoke with close friends and relatives that evening and know that their fear over what was the unknown a few minutes after the 1924 steam pipe exploded was real. Time has passed and with the "uneventful passage" of that time, the question of whether complacency has once again taken over must be asked.

The global conflict against al Qaeda, its clones and spin-offs, along with other extremist terrorist organizations around the globe has been redefined. So instead of the "War on Terrorism" we have the "overseas contingency operation." Have we forgotten?

In an October 22, 2002 editorial at the time of the Beltway Sniper incident, Frank Rich wrote an editorial, What Al Qaeda Learned in D.C., and then realize that to many people may have fallen into what Gary Hart, one of the authors of the Hart-Rudman reports referred to the "it won't happen here" syndrome.

"The attitude is that it's not going to happen here." I had asked him if he agreed with my perception that terrorism seems a much less pressing threat when you talk to Americans outside the D.C.-N.Y. axis. "It's an East Coast problem, maybe a West Coast problem," he said, giving his take on the local mood. "And that's tragically mistaken. The next targets could be Denver, Cleveland, Dallas. The way you demonstrate a country's vulnerability is to attack it everywhere."

Along with the change in Administrations has complacency about September 11th set in? This is not a statement of Republican versus Democrat or liberal versus conservative, but a generalized observation. While that alone does not bode well for this country, or for the World, the fact that most people do not feel threatened is a concern. Calling "terrorism" by another name does not change the fact that it exists.

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