Flavin’s Corner

Knocked Up

The recent anthrax attacks, like the events of Sept. 11, 2001, have indelibly changed America.  I’d offer that “seeds of doubt” have been sown, but there haven’t been farmers in my family in over three generations and far be it from me to try and get away with using an agricultural metaphor.  Besides, the feelings of many Americans concerning anthrax spores, especially among postal workers, are well past mere doubt and are rapidly approaching panic.  America is pregnant with fear.  Lady Liberty has been knocked up and we’re not sure who the father is.

In a similar gut-wrench response as immediately after the bombing of the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, on April 19, 1995, when most blamed Islamic fundamentalists, too many are pointing and wagging at Bin Laden, Saddam Hussein, or accomplices of one or both, for the anthrax attacks.  An honorably discharged U.S. Army soldier, decorated during the Gulf War, Timothy McVeigh was put to death some months back for the bombing.  Some are now suggesting that the anthrax attacks may have been launched by Americans.  Domestic violence has, perhaps, once more become domestic terrorism. [Note: To read McVeigh’s “reason” for his cowardly crime, click here.]

Many families have problems, with some worse than others.  It’s the same with countries.  Allowing the possible exception of Iceland, all countries experience varying degrees of internal dissent, of which too many examples are violent.  The relatively modern practice of culturally acceptable political pusillanimity without subsequent death or imprisonment seems robust and decadent in many democratic countries, but assassination, revolutionary incitement, and military coup d’etat are common enough in the global community.  Issues of race, religion, and economics are often competing and confused with tyrannical greed, factional greed, and nationalistic greed.  So many dissenters.  When I consider the anger that’s out there I almost want to hug an environmentalist or someone concerned with whales.

America has endured traitors from Benedict Arnold and Aaron Burr (though acquitted) to Alger Hiss and Aldrich Ames.  Yet, such internal dissent as from Mormons who want “Zion” (a “new” Jerusalem) built in America, segregationists who apparently learned nothing from the outcome of our Civil War, and paranoid anti-government conspiracy fruitcakes who refuse to pay taxes and only trust money with their own pictures printed on it, all combine to define our dysfunctional American family.  Hippies and jocks?  Democrats and Republicans?  Such simple categorizations are pushed to the back rows as today’s malcontents rush the stage and are better equipped to spread their hate.  Freedom has many enemies and some of them may be found right down the street at a local women’s clinic.

For the last three years the anti-abortionist extremists, the Army of God, have been mailing threatening letters to women’s clinics across the country in violation of federal law.  Most of the letters mention anthrax and many contain a white or brown powder.  Since Oct. 15, 2001, more than 250 letters have been received, a figure higher than the sum total of all threatening letters involving anthrax since the clinic attacks started in 1998, and the number continues to grow everyday.  The emotional toll is beyond measure, but the costs for police, fire, and haz-mat responses, as well as lab tests on the powders, could and probably will be calculated.  This is not about a Catholic fingering a rosary outside of a women’s clinic and attempting to champion a pro-life position from some bygone era.  This is an extension of bombings, arsons, assassinations, and the psychological intimidation of women that too often is ignored or only casually mentioned.  This is domestic terrorism. 

Letters threatening anthrax from the "Army of God."

Letter containing anthrax sent to NBC.

Are these terrible hoaxes connected with the four recent letters known to have contained anthrax?  No one can say for sure at this time.  The letter sent to Florida’s American Media (headquarters of the National Enquirer) and alleged to have mentioned the slut-diva, Jennifer Lopez, hasn’t been presented to the public.  The other letters, to Brokaw at NBC in NYC, to Sen. Daschle in Washington, D.C., and to the editor of the New York Post, have been investigated and published.  As more infections and deaths occur, some are attributing some amazing and scary (to say nothing of amazingly scary) consequences of these infected letters.  Not since the Kennedy assassination and the infamous “single bullet” theory has such meager evidence been stretched and made to account for so much. 

A diagram of the I love you--check's in the mail--no, I
won't orgasm in your mouth--"Single Bullet" theory.

Current estimates (read: guesses) are that the Daschle letter could have contained up to two grams of finely milled anthrax spores.  Some suggest the letter contaminated every damn thing it came into contact with.  Others are looking for more infected letters.  Begin pep-talk –  I believe in my government.  It may not be able to balance the budget and raise taxes at the same time, but I’ve every confidence it can investigate more than a single scenario to explain a series of crimes. – End pep-talk.  As the likelihood the anthrax attacks are domestic in origin increases, that the full effects have not yet been gauged, and awareness of just how vulnerable America truly is becomes apparent, we acknowledge the fear.  Do we carry to term this possibly incestuous monster or do we end its existence?  Some choose to live with fear, while others do not.  It’s a matter of choice.

As I entered my teens Abbie Hoffman’s Steal This Book (New York: Grove Press/Pirate, 1971) was all the rage among the wannabe revolutionary crowd I hung out with.  As we progressed into the info-age, soon rumors of plans on how to build a nuclear bomb spread, along with simple recipes to produce nifty designer chemicals in one’s kitchen.  It’s well known that anti-government Americans have been diligently spreading their hate for decades now.  How to kill, bomb, and infect, or suggestions how to develop a vaccine, store food, and survive the “coming” war have been published in newsletters, books, and online.  Damn, even FEMA has a webpage with suggestions to ensure your pet survives a disaster!

I believe in a woman’s right to choose what happens to her own body, I believe in an individual’s right to do what ever they choose as long as it doesn’t violate anyone else’s rights, and I believe Lady Liberty needs an abortion.  This pregnancy of fear is wrong for America and we do have a choice.  Forget bringing the anxiety to term.  We need to end it now.  And we need to track down the sons-of-bitches who did this.  It’s about family.

Buying more stamps for the hell of it,

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