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How do we rebuild?
The only true way to fight this is with ideas

By Alborz Bahmani
February 4, 2002
The Iranian

This story was emailed five days after the September 11 terrorist attacks.

It's quiet almost too quiet. Life goes on here but there's a muted stillness in the air. Traffic seems to go slower than usual in the bayou city. Conversations begin and end on shorthand, a few words and glance is all that's needed. Lovers snuggle against one another pausing wondering is this the last?

The sky is empty and clear, I now kinda know what it feels like to be living in the 19th century. Horror, fear, and vengeance are in the feelings of today. People have eyes and ears glued listening and seeing the instant replay footage of destruction play over and over edited with multiple camera angles, and a voice over track. I glad didn't see the MTV news edit version of it. It's unhealthy. Bright side at least no "The View" on ABC.

Christ I can imagine those corporate pop culture spinsters trivialize this, "Yes Meredith, it is a horrible thing I feel bad for the families, and when we return what's Hot in Fall paramilitary fashion". War is the word of the day. Seriously I'm scared and shocked like everyone else. I keep myself sane with humor poking fun at the absurdity of it all, hoping Rod Serling would come out, and do his monologue.

Somehow we all find our own way to cope with it. Flashbacks of Operation Desert Storm enter my head all along the taunts "Sand Nigger", and the ass whupping I received in middle school for it. Seems like being or even having some sort of Middle Eastern heritage is about the same as being black in the 60's, born suspect. If you have even have 1/10th blood in you, that one tenth is all that matters.

Today my mother suggested it would be all right if I legally changed my last name to her maiden Gutierrez. "It's better to do it while your young," she says as I imagine myself "outed" for hiding half of my heritage in some congressional committee on anti American activities. I imagine Americans of Mideastern descent buying lawn mowers, and chevy pickup trucks moving into Hispanic neighborhoods to hide from persecution. Habib is now Jesus (pronounced Hey-Zeus), and Mohamed is now Miguel.

This is not the old school type of war most of grew up remembering, this is guerilla warfare. It's a fight against a network not a country. They are there not because have to, but they are given the idea that they want to. Our darkside is overshadowed in their heads, dehumanizing us as we do to some extent to them.

The only true way to fight this is with ideas, and facts. Just killing and bombing the bastards will create more atrocities, and more bastards to begin with. Most of their population is under and uneducated group of manchilds under-25 years who only know how to do one thing fight.

Also we the United States trained them in the Cold War, and left them after it ended. It's easier to fight than learn how to read, make a better life for yourself in a part of the world with no stable economic infrastructure. It takes less effort to bomb than to build something more permanent than a dirt road. Women in a small town in Pakistan had to band together in an abstinance strike to get their village to get running water as opposed to walking 3 miles to the nearest well.

It's funny how the political pendulum swings a couple days ago we were in the middle, and now it's swung fully to the right. One moment we're introspective examining ourselves seeing what's wrong the picture, the next moment we're clinging to what we believe is left of it. A change from Kerouac's "On the Road" to Heinlien's "Starship Troopers".

In the end after whatever is left standing, how do we rebuild?

I hope I can reach my goal of being a storytelle. I still plan attending NYU. I'm not going to run either, but in the meantime in between time, I'm gonna chill, live life and play the cards life has dealt me the best way I can.


Alborz Shawn Bahmani is a junior Communications Major at University of Houston.

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