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     Volume 9 Issue 3 | January 15, 2010|

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Writng the Wrong

A Weapon of Mass Hysteria, A Pair of Underpants, and Cheeseburgers

Sharbari Ahmed

Umarfaroukhabdulmutallab. Say that five times fast. You know the President did. Followed by, “who the HELL is that?”

“He is an Al Quaeda operative Mr President, who had a bomb in his pants on Christmas Day that he attempted to detonate on a Northwest Airlines flight bound for sunny Detroit, home of automobile assembly lines and Eminem.”

Okay, let me regroup (me, not the President, who, according to Fox's Sean Hannity--my future boyfriend--re-grouped too slowly). A couple of columns ago I quipped that these Islamic terrorists were nothing if not helpful, blogging their intentions well before the actual events, leaving holy books willy nilly all over terror sites, and somehow, repeatedly, US intelligence as President Obama stated in relation to the Christmas Day attack, fails to connect the dots. I think it is time for the CIA to stop recruiting at crack dens and remedial reading classes.

I meditate everyday and I try very hard not to think and sometimes I succeed and when I do something pretty amazing happens, I understand things. Profound truths, some of which are very disconcerting, such as the fact that the cheeseburgers I ate in 1989 will show up and build illegal settlements on my butt in 2010. Like Netenyahu, they flout all international laws. I also know that the most pervasive way to control people is through fear. This is what I call an universal truism, therefore, it is not ‘rocket surgery’ as an annoying yoga instructor of mine would always say. But this truism is so common that it is invisible to the naked eye for the most part. I have been a victim of it myself. It is a quotidian reality. Wives running their hapless hubbies around by the nose because they have convinced them they are nothing without them; abusive men who beat their partners; parents who exact so much guilt from their children they cannot think for themselves; employers who punish and offer no incentives. Bullies in a schoolyard, one and all.

Another profound truth: very little of what I say is remotely original. Neither is the question I am about to pose. Andrew Sullivan of The Atlantic asked the same a few days ago. How did Al Quaeda's latest flunky manage to get bomb making materials--the same ones used by Richard Reid, the shoe bomber of 2001--past security? And why in the name of all that is Holy did he just not detonate the damn thing in the john? Why did he put on a show in the main cabin where someone would see him and then inevitably stop him? The media calls this a failed attempt. I say no. Like Sullivan and others, I feel that Mr Abdulmuttallab, an exceptional student at University College in London, succeeded in his mission. I do not believe killing was his motivation. Terror was. And in that he has succeded spectacularly. Terror and chaos lead to irrational thinking. We become a nation of Homer Simpsons running around, screaming, with our heads on fire. It will also feed the nation's intrinsic bigotry. I heard a terrible rumour that now Jolie doesn't like Obama but Pitt does and this is causing tremendous strain in their union. The apocalypse is not far behind.

A debate is raging following this successful attack about the use of full body scanners at the airport. The ACLU says its an attack on our civil rights, and everyone else is saying we need this. Newark airport was paralysed for hours last week because someone walked through a metal detector the wrong way. I am already dreading travelling. I can just hear the person operating the scanner now: “Uh, nothing Jones...wait, I see something...no, it's just a cheeseburger, looks about circa '89, attached to subject's right butt cheek. It is amassing size, however. But Homeland Security has no protocol for this. Send her through. It is, after all, an American cheeseburger.”

I have read the various accounts of the Christmas Day attack, and something is stinky in a small Scandinavian nation. My Facebook friend Joseph Lieberman ( I send him hugs and mojitos all the time) was among the first eager beavers to weigh in, stating that Iraq was yesterday's war, Afghanistan is the war raging at the moment and Yemen was tomorrow's front! This was a higly calculated poltical maneuver. It was setting the stage for the next excuse to wage a war on terror, to waterboard, sorry, interrogate, and to show how ineffectual the current administration is. Yemen is our new enemy and there is a chance that Obama cannot protect us from it. Lieberman's statement plants that seed of doubt. On top of it, as expected, the Christmas Day attacker had an obliging cleric guiding him all the way. The same one who mentored the Ft Hood shooter. And he is, of course, Yemeni.

I hate taking off my shoes at the airport and if Richard Reid was ever in front of me, I would give him the broad side of my tongue. The same goes for Mr. Abdulmuttallab. I would lecture him to death for his sheer stupidity. He was manipulated. I did some research on him--alright I read his biography on Wikipedia and other sites that included examples of his journal entries (way too much time spent on the seductive powers of women's hair)-- and if these are really his messages and thoughts, then he was a sitting duck for those fiends in Al Qaeda. Based on what I read, he is intelligent, deeply thoughtful, insecure and hormonal. A relatively normal young man, who has not found himself yet. His teachers claim his family is wonderful. They are certainly wealthy. There is no way of knowing what really happened to him as a child, but it does not seem as if he was exposed to Islamic fundamentalism relentlessly. Someone clearly played on his feelings of inadequacy and now all of us are paying for it. This does not absolve him. He is not a baby. But his immaturity certainly makes my life harder. Just when I thought we were turning a corner. Just when I thought that the damage wrought by the Bush administration on the nation's soul was starting to be dismantled bit by bit, this happens.

Thank you Al Quaeda, you thugs, and thank you USA for playing into their hands...AGAIN! I think I should go meditate now. I am breathing in, I am breathing out, I am here, in the present. I am in need of a cheeseburger. Some things really never change.


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