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About The North Coast times-eagle. (Wheeler, Oregon) 1971-2007 | View Entire Issue (Jan. 1, 2007)
NORTH COAST TIMES EAGLE, JABRUARY & MARPRIL 2007
tin cans on a string perhaps? Or smoke signals? Maybe not even
that. With all the bombing and fires, smoke signals might be hard
to notice among all the other smoke and dust. The only thing you
actually can rely on in the way of news is what you see with your
own two eyes.
No Internet certainly. No video games. I-pods? Maybe.
At least as long as they use alkaline batteries until they run
down. A game of catch then for the kids as long as you're stuck
at home? Okay, but are there landmines in the field? Don't forget
It is no longer “Home Sweet Home" anymore is it? Come
to think of it, do you still have a home? Your cute little ranch or
Victorian might end up demolished to clear for a “field of fire" or
just be unlucky enough to be in a “free fire zone?” Perhaps your
home ends up used for mortar practice. Now that sales ad about
a great price for a “fixer upper” is actually accurate.
Of course, it is not always bad guys with bad intentions
who wipe out your homeowner tax deduction. Did the person
doing the targeting of something else twitch at the wrong
moment? Did he do his math right in calculating the ballistics
and fire a “short round?" Nothing is more unfriendly than so-
called “friendly fire" accidents. Maybe your house is mistaken
for harboring a suspected terrorist. Maybe the house next door is
suspected of harboring a terrorist. The blast radius of bombs is
pretty substantial. Either way, do you end up living in a tent in the
winter as a refugee to escape the bombing? Once you thought
all you had to fear was being bitten by a mosquito with the West
Nile Virus. What a fond memory.
No matter where you live, you need money to live. But it
is downright dangerous to go to work. That crate marked ‘Coors’
laying at the side of the road? Is it empty cardboard or conceal
ing lEDs? The used tire dumped by the stop sign? Empty or not?
That freshly turned dirt in the pothole in the pavement? Make
There is little to fill the car tank anyway. And if you drive,
you can get shot even by the soldiers in sandbagged bunkers
placed at intersections to “protect" you. Perhaps you don’t notice
the nervous troopers signaling you to stop or don’t do it fast
enough. A steel-jacketed slug through the windshield works
pretty well at accomplishing that. Oops. Maybe they don’t know
you’re a patriot.
You’re not safe even if you do make it to downtown
Tigard or Baker or Cannon Beach (another nicely ironic name,
by the way). If you are a judge or a lawyer or a policeman or a
fireman, your very occupation could target you for elimination,
let alone if you are a politician or even an ordinary supporter of
a particular party or religion someone doesn’t like.
Being a business owner doesn’t make you immune.
Perhaps you help or hurt someone by your mere existence.
What a handy way to eliminate competition or someone not
liked. Does anyone carry a grudge against you?
Even if you are not singled out, there is always the
possibility of a spreading fire from a deliberate bombing or a
“short round” artillery shell nearby which wipes you out.
Accidents happen even in war zones. It probably is a moot
point anyway. Do you have any workers left or any inventory
or anyone with any money to spend on it if you happen to finish
production of something?
Being a lowly laborer instead of a rich boss does not
make you immune from danger going to work. Do you have the
right skin coloration? The right clothing? Wearing jeans or shorts
walking down Commercial in Astoria or Broadway in Seaside
might get you murdered by someone who doesn’t think his or
her particular God wants you to wear them.
Even if you dressed innocuously, do you have the right
Bible? The right ID in your pocket? Maybe you better carry more
than one version and hope you remember the right pocket when
you are asked to produce it.
You could still end up seized at random, thrown on a
bus, have your hands tied behind your back and get a bullet in
the head or tortured first. Worse, you could end up on camera for
your family to watch in horror as you are slaughtered like a cow.
Staying home 24/7 doesn’t necessarily protect you.
A knock on the door could be a signal you are about to be
executed. The fact that those outside the door are wearing
police uniforms is no assurance. Anyone can buy or steal them.
It doesn’t have to be a terrorist hit squad. The uniforms
might be government issued to employees on the government
payroll. It could be the government itself doing the seizing, the
torturing, the jailing, the execution, all on mere suspicion or
an injudicious comment against the Prez or the mere falsely
reported slander of the Prez by a jealous neighbor.
You might be able to barricade or ami yourself to defend
against individual attackers for a while at least. But once the
bombs or rockets start falling, you might as well be at a crap
table shooting dice. These instruments of massive destruction
being used these days aren’t very smart for the most part. And
even if they were, the guys steering them might not be smart
enough to know where they should be steered. Besides, a little
terror among the populace might be deemed a “good" thing by
those in charge of directing the high explosives.
You think things were bad in New Orleans because of
Hurricane Katrina? Imagine if there was not even “heck-of-a-job
Brownie" at FEMA. Imagine aid workers, rescuers and firemen
fearful to enter. Helicopters to rescue you? Targets!
In other words, you might not be able to get to a hospital
if you are hurt by a bomb or a rocket. You might not make it even
if you are merely sick on an ordinary day without actual bombing.
Highway 101 or a key bridge is likely to have been bombed long
before even if the hospital itself wasn't. As recent news reports
reveal, there is reason to fear the ambulance marked with the
huge red cross on top delivering you may be strafed as many
have in Lebanon. Think not? Ask the Israelis about their public
warnings they would do exactly that. Ask the second Sunni or
Shiite suicide bomber who is waiting after the first one exploded
for the medical help to arrive on the scene.
Once you make it to Providence Memorial or whatever
is closest, you may find there are no medical supplies or not
enough beds because of the large volume of killing and maiming.
Kidney dialysis or organ transplant or MRI or other fancy stuff?
Good luck in getting an aspirin.
Imagine tanks and uniformed troops everywhere.
Imagine, too, lots of “civilians," or at least men not in uniform
but still brandishing automatic weapons. Imagine them being
pretty careless about firing off those weapons. And any bullet
that goes up has to come down somewhere. Hope you are not
standing in the air space where they do.
Imagine some bad guys over whom you have no control
deciding they want to use your neighborhood for a missile launch
site. Imagine what happens when they do the missile trail points
back to your neighborhood and guys on the other side with even
bigger missiles might hold you responsible.
Imagine curfews. When was the last time you were
subject to a curfew? Imagine martial law being imposed. Imagine
curfew violations being enforced with steel-jacketed slugs.
Imagine those same tanks and troops, but now imagine
they are not your friends and neighbors Imagine they are, say
DRAWINGS BY ROGER HAYES
a Chinese army occupying the state and our own troops are
disbanded or in hiding. Imagine that those foreign troops can
break down your door with impunity and point their rifle barrels
at you and your children while they search your house. Be care
ful of what you do and when you do it, since locks no longer
Maybe you were glad when they first arrived. Probably
not unless you also wanted the current rulers removed from
office and brought to trial. But either way, imagine they have
been there for months or years. Still want them around? What
would you do in such circumstances? How can you possibly
make conclusions without going through the thought process?
Why bring up such unpleasant thoughts? It “can’t”
happen here after all. Right? After all, we have those super
spooks at the CIA and the NSA and their expensive high-tech
toys to ferret out all the bad guys before they ever get here.
Right? After all, we have the ever vigilant and no doubt super-
competent Homeland Security to find all the bombs hidden in
shoes. After all, we are building a 42-foot wall along several
hundred miles of our many thousand miles borders, and the
Border Patrol or the Minute Men won’t let any bad guys in.
Right? Surely the wily skills of our wise wizards and ambas
sadors will make friends rather than enemies abroad Right?
And it’s not as if we would ever have lunatic fringe
groups already here to start revolutions or insurgencies for
their own purposes. Black Panthers? White Supremacists?
Squeaky Fromme? Right to Life abortion clinic bombers?
Americans would never kill fellow Americans or indulge in
ethnic cleansing like those other, uncivilized countries, would
they? The Civil War, lynching, and the near eradication of
Native Americans were surely just anomalies, weren't they?
And just because NeoCons have called dissenters “traitors"
and wished them executed merely for disagreeing with the
Republican administration, does not mean they would really
kill or jail dissenters if the opportunity presented itself and they
thought they could get away with it. Right? Right!
Okay. Unlikely for the immediate future at least, but
still worth contemplating. While our Far West is not the Middle
East, we cannot be sanguine that our good fortune will continue
forever. Do we need to be reminded by history that every single
smug civilization that ever existed imagined it was incapable of
being destroyed? Ask the members of the Third Reich that was
TIMES EAGLE WORD SEARCH
supposed to last 1000 years. Ask even the Romans? They too
thought their particular gods or military might would protect them
in perpetuity. The verdict of history is that it can happen here. It
will happen here if we do not consider all the possibilities and act
More importantly and of current day relevance, we
should remember the excuses of all those in charge of our
country at the time of 9/11 who repeatedly alleged that driving
airplanes into buildings was utterly impossible to foresee and
could not have been contemplated. Perhaps if they had period
ically indulged in a similar thought process to that set forth
above, they might have seen some possibilities and taken steps
to prevent them. Is that lack of foresight happening again in our
present policies concerning the Middle East?
In any event, you cannot know a problem unless you
give it some serious thought and put yourself in the shoes of
others. How can you possibly understand how others will react
if you cannot understand what they are going through? We might
read in the paper about how we are supposedly “at war," but we
are certainly not acting like it today. Since we are not experien
cing it first hand, we need to devote at least some time to imagin
ing what could happen in some detail
We need to do so before accepting at face value any
facile solutions offered by any slackjawed politicians or pundits
which can be summed up in a ten second “soundbite." We need
to do so early on because we ultimately are responsible for what
our elected leaders and allies they choose are doing or create,
even if unintended or unwanted. There are consequences.
Evidence suggests 9/11 may have been a consequence of some
of our policies. Perhaps we would not change the policies, but
why aren’t we recognizing and discussing what could happen?
Whether 9/11 was a consequence or not, and whether
you see yourself as God fearing or Jesus loving, we must go
through such thought puzzles because we need to do some
cost/benefit analysis of possible consequences to others, if
not to ourselves.
Some of you after doing so might conclude our part in
the Middle East is wrong Others might go through the same
analysis and conclude we need to fight them over there so we
won’t have to fight them here That's fair. Disagreement and
competing points of view are what democracy is all about The
point, though, is that informed decisions should not — cannot —
be properly made without careful consideration, especially about
something that is alien to our present personal experience as
what is going on in Afghanistan, Iraq, Lebanon, Palestine, Israel
and Somalia. The future activities of someone who is forced to
live where 9/11 if 24/7 cannot be predicted or even intelligently
debated unless we try to understand the atmosphere that such
daily fear, frustration and derivation breeds
Start thinking. Then express your opinion to those who
have power and put new ones in charge if they do not seem to
listen or show they have not done similar thought processes
Charles Hillestad is an attorney living in Cannon Beach.
He is a Vietnam veteran.
Roger Hayes is an artist and member of Astoria Visual
Arts. He lives in Astoria
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