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The Home Front

Suppose the president of the United States announced that terrorists had targeted and stalked 1 million American victims over the past twelve months, with the intention of isolating and attacking them, not all together in big buildings, but one at a time.

Suppose the Department of Justice, to support the president, released estimates that over 800,000 of these assaults on individuals had been carried out, with upwards of 4,500 confirmed dead — comparable to the number still missing at the World Trade Towers.

Would you find those facts disturbing? Would you mentally calculate your own odds?

Suppose that, even though the federal government had made every effort to get this story out, it had gone virtually unreported.

It is all true. There’s no “catch” to it. And it’s been going on for years. While the national media obsessed over Clinton’s bad behavior and Bush’s bad grammar, thousands of Americans were being stalked and killed. And in most cases, the victims had been warned. They had received what the courts call “terroristic threats.” Many of them went to the authorities for help, but it didn’t save them.

Wait a minute, you say. If there were that many terrorists in the United States, we’d all know about it. Good God, it would be all we talked about!

The overwhelming majority of the targets have been women. The terror aimed at them didn’t emanate from a cave in Afghanistan.

Hold on, you say. I see where this is going. That’s not terrorism, that’s domestic violence. We’d be trivializing both issues if we got them mixed up.

Maybe that depends on one’s perspective. Is it terrorism only when men are equally at risk? Not from the point of view of 4,500 dead women, not judged by the effect on many thousands of children who witnessed these attacks.

While some of us worried about anthrax and foreign fanatics, some Americans had more reason to fear their fellow citizens.

My hope is that in the aftermath of 9/11 we’ll be left with zero tolerance for violent, terroristic assaults on Americans, whether the terrorist cowers in a faraway cave or struts around the house next door.

Maybe we’ll even have less patience with people who “harbor” terrorists and collude with them, who know what’s going on and do nothing to stop it, who support the domestic Taliban when it counsels women to “submit.”

October is — was — National Domestic Violence Awareness Month. The president tried to tell us. The Department of Justice did, too.

Casual sex went up after 9/11. So did relapse among alcoholics and addicts. Maybe you’ve seen those reports. What do you think happened on the “home” front?

David Vest is a writer, poet and piano player for the Cannonballs. A native of Alabama, he now lives in Portland, Oregon. Visit his webpage for samples of the Cannonballs’ brand of take no prisoners rock & roll and other Vest columns: http://www.mindspring.com/~dcqv

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DAVID VEST writes the Rebel Angel column for CounterPunch. He and his band, The Willing Victims, have just released a scorching new CD, Serve Me Right to Shuffle. His essay on Tammy Wynette is featured in CounterPunch’s new collection on art, music and sex, Serpents in the Garden.

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