Back in May 2000, we were on our way to a friend’s birthday party. She was my mother’s god-daughter. She and her brother were moving to Florida soon and wanted us to see how she re-decorated the house for sale. They were second-generation friends. Our mother and theirs had known each other since childhood.
It was a rather cool day on Memorial Day weekend. I had just come back from a parade and had to put on a vest to keep warm. Strange weather for the end of May.
We stopped at the gas station at the end of town. My older brother was driving, but it was our mother’s car. Fortuitously (as it turned out), he paid for the gas with his credit card, although my mother promptly handed him the cash.
My younger brother and I were in the back seat. I was nearer the pump island. Looking out, I noticed a man in a car on the other side of the pumps.
What a face he had! Malice and evil were etched into every lineament. This was not a face one was born with; one had to do a lot of hating to create such a face.
My older brother, it turned out, was staring, too. Suddenly, the Turkish gas station owner gave us a sharp reprimand, and my brother paid the bill. The man, meanwhile, was signing his credit card slip.
He said something in Arabic to the owner, to which the soothing response sounded something like, “Don’t worry; everything will be all right.”
As the other car drove away, I exclaimed to my younger brother, “Did you see that guy?! He looked just like a terrorist.”
My younger brother grimaced in agreement. Up front, my mother whipped her head around and cried out, “What? Who’s a terrorist? Where?!”
“Nobody’s a terrorist, Mom,” my older brother replied, sardonically. He started up the car and we drove on to the birthday party.
Yet there he was – after 9/11, I would recognize the man as Mohammed Atta – on the very Main Street I’d ridden up and down on bicycles with my best friend, the street I’d paraded on with my band, the road I’d spent my lifetime driving on.
About 14 months later, I was on a photography assignment – never mind where; the FBI doesn’t like to be reminded of past history. At the corner of the road I had to turn onto – and it forked off in two directions – stood what looked for all the world like construction workers, not terrorists.
They stood on one side of the fork; my destination was the other fork. As I made my turn, they suddenly sprang to life, running around in all directions. I wondered if the road was supposed to be blocked off for construction work.
If it was, there were no barriers, I thought. Meanwhile, this construction worker group was performing some very strange theatrics, running around in circles, waving their hands in the air, like Keystone Kops.
One short fellow ran blindly into a big, burly thug who threw Shortie off in annoyance. He then glared at me with stone-cold contempt.
Well! If that just didn’t top off the ice cream sundae. What on earth was that all about?
I won’t go into the rest of that particular adventure. What’s troublesome is these people are permitted to wander in and out of our country unchecked and unchallenged. Defended, even, by Liberals who accuse us of racism if we object.
Don’t mind those people behind the curtain, we’re told. Don’t even question them. Let the authorities handle it. That was sound advice in this instance, as the further adventure revealed.
They’re supposed to be handling it, at any rate. What are we average people supposed to do when we see Mohammed Atta at a local gas station, filling up? Call the FBI because he looked like a terrorist?
Turns out, that might not be a bad idea. Checking out the FBI website for mug-shots of these goons may just yield fruit. The authorities can’t be everywhere. In the Times Square incident, an alert bystander called the cops when he noticed something suspicious about that SUV.
It’s pretty easy to spot these people. It’s not so easy to spot their supporters here in the United States. We need to do background checks on the officials we elect purportedly to protect us, but who wind up protecting our enemies instead.
We citizens need to do better background checks on the Barack Obamas, the Hilary Clintons, the Barney Franks (he’s a financial terrorist, but when you see his background and associates, you wonder how anyone could have elected him).
We need a task force on terrorist politicians and the terrorist activities they furtively and tacitly succor. Their propaganda machine crows about home-grown terrorism, trying to distinguish between foreigners and naturalized citizens who come here with only one purpose in mind.
If we are to prevent future calamities, we don’t want to wait until the TUV (terrorist utility vehicle) is smoking away on 45th Street or find ourselves looking down a telephoto lens at the world’s most wanted terrorist guy.
We submit to thorough and embarrassing searches of ourselves at the airport, all in the name of political correctness, and still the terrorists slip the net. The Times Square terrorist was already onboard the plane, ready to take off for the Middle East.
The plane had to be brought back to the terminal to drag him off. Belatedly, he was put on the no-fly list and only caught at the last minute. Why wasn’t he being watched when he spent five months in Pakistan, learning to make fertilizer explosives?
We need to swivel our necks a little sooner and ask, “Who’s a terrorist guy?! Where?!”