Sunday, September 16, 2007

The War Against Metro Terrorism

This sign hangs on the wall of the Glenmont station:

And in case you can't read the literal writing on the wall, it reads: "It's easy to let our guard down. 9/11 happened over four years ago. Nothing's happened since. Except for Madrid. And London. Part of the war on terrorism is a battle against complacency. So live your life, but be aware. And if you see something that seems wrong, let us know."

Ladies & gentlemen, I present to you The Federal Government, not-so-subtly inducing fear & panic on a daily basis. Seriously - tell me this is not the most belligerently absurd piece of propoganda you've seen in our lifetime. This is akin to WWI stuff... only perhaps more obvious, if that's humanly possible.

But the really shameful part? It maybekinda worked on me. Last Tuesday, on September 11, I was waiting for my train at Farragut North & noticed a man standing next to me, looking confusedly between a subway map & both sides of the Metro rail. "Do you need directions?" I asked him, trying to be helpful. He turned to me, stoic, & answered "no," then looked back at his map & started laughing softly, almost maniacally, swiveling his head to watch some of the passersby on the platform.

And then I noticed his pockets - the bulging, overstuffed pockets of this guy's jean jacket (this is a serious story, so please contain your laughter at his fashion sense) were stuffed almost to overflowing with... something. I don't know what. Maybe it was maps & a wallet & his camera & cell phone. But how was I supposed to know?

And when the next train came, he got on it - and I didn't. Why? I'm not sure. But the map, the laugh, the pockets - in my paranoid, post-9/11 mind, they all added up to a black Middle Eastern man who could be plotting to self-destruct on the redline as a commemoration gift. So he got on, & I stayed at Farragut North, waiting, worrying.

Should I feel relieved for not turning in an innocent man on suspicion of terrorism? Relieved that I didn't succumb to racial judgments & government-induced fear?

Complacency is the accomplice.

So more importantly, if he had blown up the redline... would I have been guilty, too?
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