Terrorism By Any Other Name
By Barbara Santee, Ph.D
She had worked in the building for years,
knowing the entire time that it could be a target for terrorists. It had happened
before in the form of a bomb that came very close to bringing the building down.
But, thankfully, it hadn't, and they had built back, determined not to be let
terrorism rule their lives. The staff still came to work every day, ignoring the
threat and doing their jobs, as she did. Still each day as she got to the office,
the thought in the back of her mind gnawed at her, "Will it happen today? Will
this be the day I die?"
She knew there had been hundreds of threatening
phone calls and illiterate, hand-scrawled notes filled with religious babbling.
The only way to survive with her sanity was to presume they were bogus, but still,
precautions were taken. The staff discussed what to do in case of violence. But
it was so hard to plan a defense when you didn't know what you were defending
against, when you didn't know when or from where the violence might come. They
had contingency plans, but would the plans work? Would it be another bomb that
could shatter, maim or kill everyone in the building? Would it be a biological
attack anthrax or ebola that would cause an agonizing death, not only for
everyone in the building for perhaps thousands of others? Would it be an attack
that would come so swiftly she would not know what hit her, like a bullet in the
back of the head?
The threats came from religious extremists zealots
who ignore the basic precepts of democracy or even civilization. In their minds,
they are not subject to the mere laws of man. They answer to their sole constituency
God. Or their version of God. The perversion of their religious beliefs gives
them the excuse to commit atrocities in the name of God. None of the normal rules
apply to religious extremists. They will do anything to impose their will on others
anything. They think nothing of slaughtering people who disagree with them
people they call heretics, infidels, non-believers, the spawn of Satan. Names
they coldly use to dehumanize their opponents to make it easier to hate them and
to convince others to hate them. Their version of religion is not based on love
of humanity. It is firmly rooted in hate, a hate so strong it propels them to
do unspeakable acts, like bombing the marine barracks in Beirut or unleashing
nerve gas in a crowded subway in Tokoyo. Hate feeds their fanaticism, and nothing
can penetrate the wall that protects their beliefs from the intrusion of the real
world -- the world the rest of us live in.
She arrived at the building,
looking cautiously around her. The bullet-proof vest cut into her shoulders, but
it was one of the precautions her husband agreed was needed. The escort rushed
to open the car door. "Good morning, Dr. Callahan." She smiled at the friendly
face. "Good morning," she responded, and then hurried up the sidewalk to the entrance
of the Women's Reproductive Health Clinic. One last glance behind her at the gaggle
of hate-filled faces spewing vile garbage at her, then she entered the clinic.
She had patients to take care of.
Dr. Barbara Santee is the executive
director or Oklahoma NARAL. Written in 2002.
Does it seem like terrorism to you?
Feminist Women's Health Center