Duck and Cover-Up

by BRIAN J. FOLEY

I’m too young to remember when the fear of nuclear war pervaded our schools. But I’ve seen the 1950s films of first-graders hiding beneath their little desks. I once saw a poster in a novelty shop that gave detailed instructions about what to do in an atomic attack. The last lines: "Put your head between your legs. And kiss your ass goodbye."

Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge interrupted today’s regularly scheduled TV broadcast to announce that the threat of a terror attack has increased. We’re now at Threat Level Orange (High), one step below the highest level, Red (Severe). Ridge said this is the first time the government has raised the level since May 20, 2003.

Al Qaeda might use aircraft, Ridge said, much as they did on September 11, 2001.

Aircraft? Shouldn’t those be un-hijack-able by now? There’s heightened security at check-in. Pilots are armed, cockpits are sealed, passengers ready to pounce.

Ridge told us to carry on with our holiday celebrations per usual — but we must be vigilant. Report any suspicious activity or packages.

What does that mean?

If a box arrives from LAND’S END tomorrow, should I call the police? It might not be that sweater I ordered. Is "Land’s End" a message — the end of our land, our country? You can never be too sure when it’s Code Orange.

If I see a car full of Middle Eastern men, should I call the FBI? It could be a "team" headed for the nearest airport, to turn a routine flight into skyscraper-seeking missile. Or to down a jet with a rocket-launcher. What about a car with one Arab? Is she a suicide bomber? If I see a car with a regular-looking Joe in it, should I call the cops? Perhaps Al Qaeda got to him, threatened to kill his family…

If I see a woman board my bus with a nervous demeanor, should I shove her back down the steps, before she can detonate a dynamite vest?

If I see a suitcase unattended, should I have a bomb squad encircle it and blow it up, before it destroys our freedoms?

If I hear someone speak Arabic, should I follow him, to find where his terrorist cell hides?

If I see an Arab on a cell phone, should I knock it out of his hands, in case he’s coordinating an attack?

If I hear any Americans sounding too patriotic, should I rat them out, in case they’re Al Qaeda infiltrators?

I am an American. I want to be vigilant.

But being too vigilant could be too disruptive. I might be mistaken in any given instance, and hurt innocent people. Maybe I will just put my head between my legs, and kiss my ass goodbye.

Or better, I’ll carry on as usual — and disregard this alert as a bunch of bull to help an Administration that maybe feels it didn’t get enough bounce in the polls from capturing Saddam Hussein.

I might look at the other Orange Alert dates and get suspicious:

September 10, 2002: To keep us afraid, and from asking questions, on that first anniversary.

February 7, 2003: To distract us from the fantasies and lies in Secretary of State Colin Powell’s presentation to the UN Security Council two days earlier, about Iraq’s (still AWOL) WMD.

March 17, 2003, the day President Bush declared war on Iraq: To keep us from protesting, to distract us from the fact the rest of the world opposed us, as well as from the fact that the last war, against Afghanistan, apparently hadn’t reduced the threat of terrorism.

May 20, 2003, after Al Qaeda attacked in Saudi Arabia and Morocco: To distract us from the fact that the murders of U.S. troops in Iraq were starting to make President Bush’s May 1 victory lap around the flight deck of the <U.S.S>. Abraham Lincoln look a tad premature.

Happy Holidays. Let’s hope there’s no terror attack. But if there is, and you survive, don’t call our government prescient. Call it incompetent.

BRIAN J. FOLEY is a professor at Touro Law Center in Huntington, N.Y. He can be reached at: BrianF@tourolaw.edu.

Like What You’ve Read? Support CounterPunch
August 31, 2015
Michael Hudson
Whitewashing the IMF’s Destructive Role in Greece
Conn Hallinan
Europe’s New Barbarians
Lawrence Ware
George Bush (Still) Doesn’t Care about Black People
Joseph Natoli
Plutocracy, Gentrification and Racial Violence
Franklin Spinney
One Presidential Debate You Won’t Hear: Why It is Time to Adopt a Sensible Grand Strategy
Louis Proyect
Jacobin and “The War on Syria”
Ralph Nader
Lo, the Poor Enlightened Billionaire!
Peter Koenig
Greece: a New Beginning? A New Hope?
Dave Lindorff
What’s Wrong with Police in America
Vijay Prashad
Why the Iran Deal is Essential
Tom Clifford
The Marco Polo Bridge Incident: a History That Continues to Resonate
Weekend Edition
August 28-30, 2015
Randy Blazak
Donald Trump is the New Face of White Supremacy
Jeffrey St. Clair
Long Time Coming, Long Time Gone
Mike Whitney
Looting Made Easy: the $2 Trillion Buyback Binge
Alan Nasser
The Myth of the Middle Class: Have Most Americans Always Been Poor?
Rob Urie
Wall Street and the Cycle of Crises
Andrew Levine
Viva Trump?
Ismael Hossein-Zadeh
Behind the Congressional Disagreements Over the Iran Nuclear Deal
Lawrence Ware – Marcus T. McCullough
I Won’t Say Amen: Three Black Christian Clichés That Must Go
Evan Jones
Zionism in Britain: a Neglected Chronicle
John Wight
Learning About the Migration Crisis From Ancient Rome
Andre Vltchek
Lebanon – What if it Fell?
Charles Pierson
How the US and the WTO Crushed India’s Subsidies for Solar Energy
Robert Fantina
Hillary Clinton, Palestine and the Long View
Ben Burgis
Gore Vidal Was Right: What Best of Enemies Leaves Out
Suzanne Gordon
How Vets May Suffer From McCain’s Latest Captivity
Robert Sandels - Nelson P. Valdés
The Cuban Adjustment Act: the Other Immigration Mess
Uri Avnery
The Molten Three: Israel’s Aborted Strike on Iran
John Stanton
Israel’s JINSA Earns Return on Investment: 190 Americans Admirals and Generals Oppose Iran Deal
Bill Yousman
The Fire This Time: Ta-Nehisi Coates’s “Between the World and Me”
Scott Parkin
Katrina Plus Ten: Climate Justice in Action
Brian Cloughley
Don’t be Black in America
Michael Welton
The Conversable World: Finding a Compass in Post-9/11 Times
Kent Paterson
In Search of the Great New Mexico Chile Pepper in a Post-NAFTA Era
Binoy Kampmark
Live Death on Air: The Killings at WDBJ
Gui Rochat
The Guise of American Democracy
Emma Scully
Vultures Over Puerto Rico: the Financial Implications of Dependency
Chuck Churchill
Is “White Skin Privilege” the Key to Understanding Racism?
Kathleen Wallace
The Id(iots) Emerge
Andrew Stewart
Zionist Hip-Hop: a Critical Look at Matisyahu
Gregg Shotwell
The Fate of the UAW: Study, Aim, Fire
Halyna Mokrushyna
Decentralization Reform in Ukraine
Norman Pollack
World Capitalism, a Basket Case: A Layman’s View
Sarah Lazare
Listening to Iraq
John Laforge
NSP/Xcel Energy Falsified Welding Test Documents on Rad Waste Casks