The recent brouhaha emanating from circumstances surrounding North Korea and the hack attack on Sony (which may or may not have changed the platform for the release of Seth Rogan’s “The Interview”) resulted in comments from President Barack Obama. He said, “Americans cannot change their patterns of behavior due to the possibility of a terrorist attack. That is not who we are, that’s not what America is about.”
I’ve given this some thought since the wide reporting of this particular sound bite. And you know what? On this point, the President is wrong—completely wrong.
There’s no doubt that America has its share of problems, though I’ll agree that Americans shouldn’t kowtow to every Looney Toon who threatens the country with annihilation (no offense to Bugs, Daffy, and Elmer.) We cannot continuously be intimidated by terrorists who appear to hate us for no other reason than that we exist. And let’s face it, North Korea keeps popping up on the radar like a Sesame Street game of “One of These Things is not like the Other.”
Since the September 11 attacks in 2001, Americans have changed their patterns of behavior—drastically. I can think of a half-dozen ways right off the top of my head, but there are a few that are obvious.
One that immediately springs to mind:
At various points in my life, I remember seeing off family and friends at the airport, watching as the plane detached itself from the boarding thruway and pulled away from the gate. I remember watching the plane taxi to its takeoff position at the end of a runway out of my view, and waiting with anticipation by the window to see the plane zip by all the while crying my eyes out and furiously waving goodbye as it lifted from the ground tucking its wheels into the belly. Today, not so much.
I have visions of days when entering a courthouse, arena, museum or other public place did not require a search of my bags, my person, or cause me any forethought about the metal or electronic objects with me that day.
Though I’m (as a general rule) not a chickenshit personality, I no longer feel comfortable in large crowds. That’s not to say I avoid them, or miss opportunities to participate in living among the masses when they arise, just that it can be unnerving in a way it was not before the attacks. These days, I own a Go Bag of sorts, something that never crossed my mind even at the height of the duck and cover era.
Maybe it’s just me, but I think the underlying current of the boomer generation and our attachment to our cells and handheld devices has very much to do with our collective fear of a terrorist attack. My theory is that we’re afraid to not know where our loved ones are at all times. It may not be a debilitating fear, but it’s there bubbling under the surface. But no one is admitting to it or talking about it, at least I haven’t heard anyone. Oh, mind you I don’t think it’s the only reason we’re tethered, but a case can be made for it.
Nonetheless, it’s completely bizarre to me that the president made a statement saying that Sony “made a mistake” in failing to release the film to theaters for Christmas. Since when does the president make official statements about the business decisions of any publicly held company? It made me wonder when do media giants consult with the White House before making corporate decisions? Who stands to gain from it and where does the money trail lead?
I’m a reasonably intelligent adult, with a half century of experience at this thing called life, so I’m not so delusional as to believe that there are complex and covert things that happen in the upper echelons of government, business and media giants that may never be made public, but I do think the president should have left out his statement about who “we” are as Americans. Our patterns of behavior have changed due to the possibility of a terrorist attack and to suggest otherwise is in a word, wrong.